In 1986 entrepreneur Joseph Segel launched the revolutionary retail service QVC, Inc. The West Chester, Pennsylvania based company--which stands for quality, value and convenience--has since become one of the largest retailers in the world. This particular home shopping network broadcasts 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, is seen in 195 million homes worldwide and is a $8.5 billion-a-year business.
For entrepreneurs, small business owners and inventors, QVC presents an incredible opportunity to gain worldwide exposure--and make a hefty profit. I've had it my personal goal to get on QVC, though I've helped several entrepreneurs get on there. The thing is, the odds of actually making it front of a camera are against you. Every week QVC showcases over 1,150 products, 288 of which are new to customers. So
That's not saying that you can't make your way to QVC. It means that you have to have the right product, the right personality and the following tips to accomplish this goal in the coming 2015 year:
Do Your Research
You probably already have a product that's all ready to make it's way into people's homes. If you haven't gotten that far yet, you may have to wait a bit longer--which I'll get to shortly. However, if you haven't done your research, then you need to get to work on understanding your market--who your customers are, and what your customers are looking for, etc.
Even when you have this information, as with any business, you must do a bit more homework--spend time actually watching QVC. Ask friends and family who watch QVC what they watch for. By doing these two actions, you can get a better idea about which products seem appealing on QVC and how your competition is presenting these products on television.
Become aware of which products are not allowed on QVC, which includes products like firearms, fuel additives, genuine fur, or anything related to gambling and tobacco.
Make Sure You Can Handle Production
According to the QVC Vending Portal, "the item you submit for a product evaluation should be a manufactured item or, at the very least, a working prototype." This means that prior to submitting an application, you need to arrange for manufacturing. QVC wants to make sure that you are able to manufacture your item in mass quantities for order fulfillment. You do not have to have these quantities produced before the application process. Also, keep in mind that QVC will not pay for the manufacturing process, even if your product has been accepted.
If you need a little more assistance in this area, then check out what well known author, (The 4 Hour Workweek), entrepreneur and investor Tim Ferriss suggests. For example, Ferriss recommends finding your manufacturer at trade shows or on sites like Alibaba, and ThomasNet (Thomas' Register of Manufacturers.) As for prototypes, he also suggests that you use 3D printers and only create small batches.
Once you have the manufacturing company committed, you need to calculate the whole cost of goods. This includes manufacturing and the shipping and packing costs involved. (What does the box cost? Packing peanuts? Are you adding a personal note with the shipping? Who will take care of this leg of the shipping journey? Are you drop shipping?)
Follow QVC's Submission Criteria
- Solve a real problem
- Be highly demonstrable
- Appeal to the masses
- Ideally have a finished sample
- Have images or video
It's also suggested that your product should be unique--meaning it's not available in too many other locations--made from quality materials and have a "wow factor." Finally, as Teddy Marcus, owner of the company Arcs & Angles, informed Crain's New York, "You have to be a talented salesperson, first to sell to QVC and then to impress its viewers." In other words, just because you want your face on T.V. doesn't meant you should be the one doing the ad. You may not be the best "face" for your product.
Connect with a Brand Strategist/Broker
Sometimes it takes more than a great product to get you onto the network. Why? Because there's a lot of competition out there, as previously mentioned. That's why it's important to use as many resources as possible. For example, inventor Lisa Ascolese was introduced to a company executive who had a relationship with QVC through a friend--which was able to get her into a meeting with QVC executives.
We may not be as fortunate as Ascolese, but there other ways to make vital QVC connections. Trae Bodage from "Three Custom Color Specialists," worked with a brand strategist who had previous dealings with QVC. You maybe should consider hiring a broker who deals with shopping networks frequently, such as 6 Ideas or Spectrum Red Group. While the application process is relatively easy to complete, teaming up with people "who know the ropes" could help secure your spot on QVC.
Deliver the Perfect Pitch
As previously mentioned, you're going to be facing some stiff competition, which is why you need to deliver the perfect pitch to get on air. Remember, you only have a couple of minutes to win the network over, so make sure that you keep your pitch short and sweet and focus on the following:
- Show how QVC will make a profit.
- Demonstrate the product.
- Highlight how customers can't live without it.
- Explain how it's different from the competition.
- Illustrate the mass appeal of your product.
If you're a great salesperson with a great product and a perfect pitch, you really can be on your way into finding a very successful arrangement with QVC.