Mark Williams Entertainment
Mark Williams Entertainment

Electronic Retailing

Infomercial Marketers Must Address the Future
by Mark Williams

As the technological revolution continues, infomercial marketers must remain knowledgeable, flexible and one step ahead of the trends.  It is crucial that we unite to tackle industry-wide problems, which range from how we are perceived as an industry to rising media costs, and critical that we identify new growth opportunities provided by technology.

With the influx of new technologies, including cyberspace malls and shopping on demand via interactive television, infomercials adapted to these new technologies are the wave of the future for selling products and service.  Marketers need to prepare for new opportunities.

Established long before deregulation, the infomercial industry launches as a medium uniquely able to intrigue consumers through innovative presentations of new products.  As the industry matured, infomercials earned respect as a valuable tool for marketers.  Consumers, however, reacted negatively to poor production values and over-hyped, inferior products, which created the stigma now attached to the word "infomercial."

Still, both marketers and consumers recognize the inherent value of infomercials for their ability to educate and entertain.  Infomercials allow markers to explain how a product can benefit a results-oriented society and they enable marketers to capture an entire market of "accidental" shoppers.

We must collectively work to remove the stigma associated with infomercials and promote them as a legitimate marketing tool designed to help people buy products that will simplify and improve their lives.

The infomercial industry must regulate itself and refuse to be singled out for negative criticism applicable to the entire advertising industry.  Government regulations require infomercials to carry elaborate disclaimers, while automobile television advertisements make grandiose claims, accompanied only by four seconds of legalese that no human could possibly read.  We must lobby for an equal playing field.

In addition to providing a service, we are entertaining and, therefore deserve the same media coverage that other entertainment programs receive.  If we urge television program guides to distinguish our programs with detailed listings, we can turn the already lucrative market of accidental shoppers into a mega-market of informed, intentional shoppers.

If our industry is to enjoy continued growth, we must encourage competition from entrepreneurs.  Right now, entrepreneurs are forced out by inefficient and overzealous media buyers who virtually control the industry by encouraging exorbitant media prices.  Media prices have increased tenfold in recent years and will continue to rise unless we take control of media buying.  The best insurance a company can have is to buy its own media.  I advise larger companies to create their own in-house media buying services and encourage young entrepreneurs to take the time to learn the media buying business.

We are a young and dynamic industry that is being threatened by issues we can control.  In order to survive in today's marketplace, we must band together to ensure higher-quality productions designed to maintain view interests, encourage innovative products to spark sales and study the new technology available to find out how infomercial markets can best put it to use.


Veteran infomercial producer Mark Williams is president of the Mark Williams Entertainment Organization based in Las Vegas, Nevada.  In addition to having five infomercials currently on the air including Eagle Eyes, National Home Business, Fast Cash with Phone Cards and Career Counselors of America, Williams is responsible for the nine-year success of the Dave Del Dotto shows and is credited for having created the first celebrity-hosted infomercial, Success in America with E. G. Marshall, in 1983.

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