Local informercial relates better to viewers

Guthy-Renker’s Proactiv solution (the skin care solution for acne treatment) has been running on Australian television networks as an infomercial for several years … and I’d hazard to guess it’s doing very well (given its continuous airing) … even with the whole infomercial basically being an American production.

But tonight I noticed there’s now a new “local” Australian version of the infomercial … all of the testimonials are by Australians … local voices, local addresses … with an Australian television celebrity used predominantly throughout the presentation.

The stories and testimonials, they way they’re told and even the words used, relate exactly to an Australian audience.

And they also use an Australian accented voice over and even mention the product is made in Australia — there’s also wording like “here in Australia” to help ensure it’s obvious the infomercial is Australian.

Even with a few small US sections in the presentation, it’s easy to tell It’s a “fair dinkum” infomercial, still with Proactiv’s professional production values (more about that in a moment).

Whilst I have no evidence or research, my gut feeling says this approach will take sales to another level. Viewers will relate better hearing Australians giving live testimonials — because they’re “local” authentic people, not just one of those “US infomercials” that seem like they’re just lobbed into our market.

To many Australians (or at least the ones I’ve personally polled), the US-produced infomercials can seem overly pushy and scripted/controlled … and there can be a feeling at times that the company who make the product don’t care enough to bother to make a local version of their commercial.

So Proactiv beats this perception.

On the other hand, some of the Australian-produced infomercials simply look amateurish compared to US presentations. While some of the US infomercials look very scripted, and the audience appears overly fake, the Aussie productions look like they were put together on an old PC sitting in someone’s spare bedroom (I won’t name it, but one professional handyman tool comes to mind, as well as a new ad starring the same two blokes).

There’s nothing professional looking about these Australian productions — they’re almost corny … and that’s possibly a strategy (sometimes looking “cheap and cheerful” can be used to promote a “budget” or low cost/high quality value approach — it shows you’re not wasting money on over-the-top marketing). Actually, for the products they promote, I’m sure they work very well. They’re just at a different production level than most US infomercials.

But in Proactiv’s case, the Australian version of their ad is equally well produced as the US one. So that can give the perception that the company cares enough to use local people and still not compromise on the quality of the presentation.

Using testimonials that relate more to your target audience is definitely a proven strategy — for example, if you’re marketing to real estate agents, getting testimonials from other real estate agents is a great way to help persuade your audience.

That’s why I’m sure using Australians in Proactiv’s infomercials will help their sales.

Indexing At The Speed Of Google

It’s now 10:15am.

While I was sleeping last night — around 2:50am this morning — my website scored a visitor from Latvia (fresh stats are thanks to the WP-SlimStat-Ex plugin I use with WordPress, although I also run the awesome Google Analytics package).

Anyway, in the stats I can see the search term the visitor used to reach my site, and I often then put that back into Google (in this case, www.google.lv). And I can see that in the natural search results, I was ranked on the page in positions 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 — and that’s even with my last name spelled as “Kenedy” instead of “Kennedy”!

But — I can see how quickly Google updates its indexes at times — only one HOUR ago (9:13am), I had made a post in the Warrior Forum, and this post was already in the Latvia Google rank at position number ONE!

It wouldn’t have been there at 2:50am … which shows just how quickly — less than one hour — a public forum post ended up in Google, and in the Number 1 natural rank position.

Is it just me, or is anyone else also blown away this lightning-fast “Google-speed” … how incredibly quickly Google keeps up with the online world?!

144 Year Old Example of Risk Reversal

I love shows like The Luxury Channel (via CNBC Australia on Foxtel) with stories about luxury goods, places and experiences from around the world.

Recently there was a story about the exclusive St. Moritz in Switzerland — especially its very famous winter season — the people, activities and stories.

In the report was the history of the luxurious and palatial Kulm Hotel, and how the winter season got started: with a ‘risk-reversal’ advertising guarantee! They didn’t describe it that way (it was called “a bet by the owner”) — but it was a very clever ‘risk-reversal’ guarantee.

Risk-reversal is where the perception of “risk” to the buyer is reduced because of the use of a particularly strong guarantee by the seller — helping increase response, as the buyer feels the seller is putting the onus on themself with an offer that is more favourable than usual to the buyer.

Confused? What that really means is this: the seller makes the offer more tempting by being willing to provide a strong guarantee: the buyer feels less at risk of losing out in some way by accepting the offer.

In the case of St Moritz’s winter season, as reported on The Luxury Channel, way back in 1864, Johannes Badrutt, the owner of the Kulm, offered this guarantee to British tourists to tempt them to come and visit St Moritz during winter:

That if it’s not true what I’m telling you — that it’s wonderful here during the winter time — then I will pay for your trip and for your stay.

That’s a confident guarantee — he’s so sure the buyer will love the place, that if they don’t, then they don’t risk any money because he’ll meet the cost of the trip and the stay.

Would you, as a tourist, now be more willing to give St Moritz a go, knowing that there was no money risk to do so?

A winter view of St Moritz's more than 5 star Kulm Hotel

It certainly worked — no such guarantee would be needed nowadays to get people to such a famous destination (as pictured looking at the Kulm Hotel in winter, above).

And it was certainly more “gutsy” back then to offer the guarantee, given there was not yet any winter activities at St Moritz — and visitors often stayed for quite a long period.

Nowadays we often see risk-reversal used to sell events such as big seminars — you’re guaranteed that if you get to a certain point during the event, decide it’s not worth it, the seminar host will meet the cost of both the event ticket and $500 in bona-fide travel expenses (or some variation of that kind).

Doing that implies you are confident of your product — which is another good way to improve your response. Of course, you better have a good product to ensure your guarantee doesn’t backfire.

What can you do in your business to create a risk-reversal guarantee to help improve your response?

PS: The Kulm Hotel people seem to have always had good marketing sense … the going rate for the Presidential Suite for one night is currently US$5,300, and the hotel was Switzerland’s first ever building to have electricity.

Check Your Messages Make Sense

Online selling platforms like eBay include some great automation tools, as eBay magician Matt Clarkson pointed out on the weekend at the eBay workshop he and wife Amanda presented on the Gold Coast.

For example, Selling Manager Pro includes a handy feature to help automate the messages sellers can send out during the buying process once an item has been sold.

I got one of these emails today from a seller, for an item I purchased for my wife Mel on the weekend.

It started like this:

Subject: Thank you for your payment. eBay item #____________ “name of the item

Dear (eBay user),

We hope you enjoy your purchase. Your payment has been received for the following item:

(A table showing the Item title, Web Address, Item number, Buyer User ID, Seller User ID and total price.)

Thank you very much. Your business is much appreciated.

Please send payment for eBay purchase.

I accept the following payment method: PayPal, Money Transfer, Money Order/Cashiers Cheque

Please go to the URL below to complete payment: (linked eBay payment address)

Did you notice the error?

First of all, it starts off by saying thanks for my payment. That’s a good automated email to send as a courtesy, which establishes a little rapport (even without a personalised message).

And then it describes the payment received and the related item.

That’s great too — confirmation I did pay for the correct item as a buyer.

But then, it falls apart.

The message tells me to send payment, the acceptable payment methods and a link to paying via eBay.

I’ve already paid! So asking me here to pay again doesn’t make any sense. (For some inexperienced users, that may cause confusion and affect the buyer-seller relationship).

In fact, it would have been better from a marketing perspective to have a link back to the seller’s other items (or their store if they had one — in this case they do have an eBay store) … to encourage further purchases.

If you’re going to use automated templates (or any other manual or sequenced series of messages), make sure you check and verify yourself that the messages make sense from the buyer’s point of view.