Mark Sneider's new products were definitely quirky--a Warm-up Scarf with a heating element and a bandanna with a cold packattached called a "Cooldana." They weren't exactly flying off retailers' shelves, and Sneider's start-up company, PersonalComfort Corp., in Orlando, had no resources for print or television ad campaigns. If only, he figured, he could get onto one ofthe home-shopping networks, which live and breathe quirk. QVC, for example, has more than 50 million viewers who watchand buy products as they're being demonstrated on the air.
Sneider's first step was to hook up with an agent who knows his way around the QVC network. "You need a repwho is respected by QVC buyers and who isn't more than a few minutes from its headquarters," says Sneider. For acommission on sales, an agent can present your product to a buyer, usher it through quality control, track it into the warehouse,train the host, script the presentation, and decorate the set.
QVC was interested but required Personal Comfort to stock the network's warehouse with 5,000 units before airtime. Thenetwork also made Sneider agree to take back all unsold inventory. But by the end of the first 15-minute show, 2,500 units hadfound new homes. Sneider went on to appear nearly 100 times as a guest host, selling more than 250,000 scarves andbandannas through the channel.