TV, Or Not TV: That Is The Question (For Inventors)

Our Guest Blogger, Marty M. Fahncke, is President of FawnKey & Associates , a product development, marketing, and business advisory firm. By utilizing Direct Response Television, E-commerce, and many other forms of marketing, Mr. Fahncke has personally developed hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for his clients. He had some great advice on avenues of distribution for inventors and other entrepreneurs. Here's his article:

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Direct Response Television, also called "DRTV" is an avenue of distribution many inventors consider for their inventions, but most don't really know much about. This article will shed some light on the mysterious world of DRTV, and help you decide if pursuing this marketing strategy is right for your invention.

Over $150 BILLION worth of products are sold on TV every year, with some of the more successful individual products bringing in $100-$300 million or more.

Since you are selling directly to the consumer, DRTV can be a great "short cut" to bring a new invention to market, without the time, hassle and barriers of the traditional retail channel.

Many well-known products and brands of today started out as an invention on TV just a few short years ago, including; Orange Glo, Showtime Rotisserie, George Foreman Grill, FoodSaver, Slick50, Tae Bo, and many, many more.

DRTV consists of several different formats, so we will address each format individually.

Infomercial (Long form):


This is the 30 minute commercial you see on television, mostly on weekends and late at night.

Consider this if:

  • You have an invention that would benefit from a thorough explanation. Your invention would sell for over $100
  • You have an invention in the fitness, weight loss, beauty, and housewares categories, as these are the biggest selling categories. (Other good categories include automotive, golf, and fishing)
  • You have a large budget, or access to a financial partner with a large budget. A good quality infomercial can START at $250,000 and go up to the millions from there. Often, infomercial producers themselves can be your financial partner.
  • You like risk. Depending on the statistics you choose to believe, the odds of success can range from 1 in 5 to 1 in 25. Whatever the real number, one thing is for sure, the odds are against you, but the rewards can make it all worth it.


Short form:


Short form DRTV commercials are the 1 or 2 minutes commercials you will see at any time of day, advertising a product for sale via toll-free number and/or website.

Consider this if:

  • You have an invention priced between $20-$100
  • You can clearly demonstrate the benefits of your invention in 1-2 minutes
  • Are budget conscious. Short form DRTV commercials can be as low as one-tenth the cost of a long form commercial.
  • Your product has good potential for add-on sales, or continuity (recurring each month) sales.

Home shopping:

The two key players here are QVC and HSN, although smaller home shopping channels do exist in the U.S. and abroad.

Consider this if:

  • You have no budget to spend on your own infomercial or short form commercial.
  • Your invention has strong appeal to women
  • You, the inventor are comfortable being in front of a camera telling millions of people about your invention

These are just a few highlights of marketing your invention on TV, but I hope they have been helpful!

If you are interested in more information about marketing your invention on TV, please consider attending my workshop "Electronic Retailing: From Inventor to Consumer at warp speed". More information about this event can be obtained by clicking here:

Marty M. Fahncke
FawnKey & Associates
Guest Blogger