Or Your Money Back
By Alvin Eicoff
*A Book Review*
by Michael C. Gray
© 2019 by Michael C. Gray
Alvin Eicoff was a trailblazer in the early days of direct response advertising broadcast on radio and television.
Or Your Money Back is Eicoff's autobiographical story of what he did.
The book was published in 1982, before the Reagan Administration deregulated the airwaves, allowing long-form infomercials to return to television. At the time the book was published, television advertising was limited to two minutes.
Many of the concepts in the book can be applied to internet marketing videos and podcasts. The fact that infomercials are still being used on television tells us they can still be used to effectively sell merchandise.
Eicoff's early successes were radio commercials produced for Lee Ratner, selling a bug killer called Flypel and d-Con rat bait. The commercials had a compelling emotional appeal.
In the very early days of television (the 1950s), long-form commercials were allowed and were very popular. These were the predecessors of today's infomercials. The commercials were recorded presentations by pitchmen who would otherwise have sold their wares at county fairs.
The first product that Eicoff promoted with a 30-minute commercial was a knife sharpener/glass cutter. The company sold almost 800,000 units at $2.98.
Another long-form commercial that was very successful was Lehigh Acres, Florida retirement home sites, for Lee Ratner. Instead of showing the properties, the commercial focused on the benefits of Florida for $10 down and $10 per month. The promotion was so successful that less honest promoters copied it but didn't deliver on their promises, as Ratner did. The state of Florida enacted complex laws and regulations resulting in big increases in real estate prices.
One of the lessons that Eicoff learned was that television viewers hated it when their favorite program was interrupted by commercials. He found that his commercials were much more effective on weekends, late at night and early in the morning. The sales resistance of the audience was lower and the rates charged for advertising in these off hours was also much lower.
Eicoff also found that products that were initially successfully when sold with direct response commercials could be converted to Key Outlet Marketing - selling them at Walgreens, Woolworth's, Eckert's and other chains. For example, the Handi-Screen, a round screen with a handle used to keep grease from splattering from a frying pan sold more than 6 million units at $3.00 each. The products were displayed in the front of the store where they were easy to find.
The book includes a checklist to analyze the likelihood of success of a product.
For a lifetime of lessons in broadcast direct marketing, get and study a copy of Or Your Money Back.
Buy it on Amazon: Or Your Money Back.
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