Have you ever watched television and came across As Seen on TV programs and felt it was shady or that people are trying to pull the wool over your eyes? Then you might want to hear from Carrie Jeske. Carrie is an As Seen On TV guru and has been in the industry for over twenty years. Carrie’s connections in other distribution channels is vast so she knows what she’s talking about. Her passion is in helping inventors find low cost, high return inventing strategies.
Along with her inventor husband of 30 years, Carrie formed a nonprofit company that brings inventors and product developers together online to brainstorm specific inventions that are licensed. The group provides funding to a variety of start-up endeavors. Learn more about the industry and behind the scenes as Carrie shares insider secrets to get ideas on the As Seen on TV shelf space at Walmart and everywhere Direct Response industry products are sold.
We have a terrific guest. Her name is Carrie Jeske. She is an As Seen On TV Guru. She’s written a book. She’s been in the industry for over twenty years. She knows what she’s talking about. The reason that this is important, the reason that this is key is because up until this interview, I have not been a big believer in As Seen On TV. I always felt it was shady. I always felt that people were trying to pull the wool over my client’s eyes. Carrie doesn’t say no to any question. She doesn’t say, “I can’t answer that or let me get around that.” She is a straight shooter and every question I threw at her, she answered no problem. I feel so much better about the industry and how it works. Is it possibly right for you guys or some of my clients? I don’t know but I feel I have a new lease on As Seen On TV. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Carrie, welcome to On The Shelf.
Thanks, Tim. I love being here. I appreciate it.
I’m excited to have you on. You’re quite the traveler and I’m glad that we’re finally able to sync up.
Thank you. I am too. It takes a while to find a great product. You do have to search the Earth for them.
You sent me an email saying that you were in Brazil talking to inventors.
I’m looking for the next new big winning product everywhere and you never know who it’s going to be or who knows who. That’s one thing I’m conscious of is nobody knows what’s going to be the next big winner until you test the product. I’m always looking for ways to see as many products as I can and test as many products as I can. Ultimately, that’s where the rubber meets the road is when you test a product and you serve it up to consumers and ask them to pay real money. That’s what dictates if something’s a winner or not. Everybody that’s been in products for any length of time knows that if one person could predict it, then they’d have a secret sauce to millions and wouldn’t want to tell anybody what it was. That’s one thing we know for sure. Nobody knows what’s going to be the winner or not until it’s tested. You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs, so to speak.
I always tell my clients, “Your family is not the testing ground.” Your friends and family because they like your product doesn’t mean that it’s a winner. It’s only when people pay real money for it. I’m sure that everybody is intrigued. You’re in Brazil, you’re talking to inventors. Why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about you? What you do? Why you were in Brazil looking for the next big thing and how that all works?
I was president of a technology company and my husband’s the inventor. He invented our first product about twenty years ago and we basically cashed in everything and launched our own inventing company. We raised up about $200,000 and took on equity investors and did the whole thing back before crowdfunding and all of that. I haven’t been able to sustain a business and even start a nonprofit from the business for the last twenty years. I’ve seen a lot.
Probably the biggest thing I’ve done is I feel I’ve probably made every mistake in the book. I wish I could say it’s been this great, easy journey. It’s been a lot. I work hard, I work a lot of hours, I spend a lot of time and I’ve done a lot of things wrong and learned a lot of hard lessons. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some good successes too. That’s what I’m about. I like to talk directly and candidly and real. I’m not selling anything. I’m trying to be a matchmaker where I either connect inventors and entrepreneurs up with manufacturer distributors and then I take a little piece of that royalty, that’s one way I operate.
In the case of As Seen On TV products, I’d be the direct licensee and we would offer a licensing agreement to the inventor and pay the royalties to them. That’s pretty much what I’ve been trying to do. I don’t charge inventors money. There are times when inventors can pay for different things but I try to teach low-cost, high-return inventing and I don’t want people blowing their 401(k)s and their kid’s college for an idea, unless they know exactly the risk that they’re taking and they’re prepared to take that, because it’s not easy.
If I’m understanding you correctly on the As Seen On TV part of thing. You’re out in Brazil, you’re looking for the next big thing. Let’s say you find it, you make a deal with the inventor, you’re like a shark out there almost. You make a deal with the inventor saying, “I will license your product and take it to As Seen On TV or something like that and I’ll pay you a royalty.” Am I understanding that right?
Yes. Those deals would be straight licensing deals. There are partnership opportunities with As Seen On TV and you hear of different people paying some money to do a TV test and some inventors don’t want to license their product. They think that they can take it all the way into the stores themselves and sometimes they can, but they still need to have testing done through As Seen On TV. For the average everyday inventor that has a lot of ideas but not a lot of capital, they would definitely want a fully funded 100% licensing deal where they pay no cash and then they get anywhere from a 1% to 5%, usually a 1%, 2%,3% on wholesale royalty. For As Seen On TV, that’s a huge amount of money. That’s the thing people don’t understand about royalty rates.
Inventors will often think, “I want a big royalty rate.” If you read a book, it’s 1% to 12%, but royalty is a percent of volume. On As Seen On TV, we’re talking huge numbers very quickly. 1%to 2% is going to make a lot of money. The average inventor will clear anywhere from $2 million to $4 million on royalties on an As Seen On TV product launch. Whereas in any other distribution channel, those volumes might be significantly lower. If you can tell them a million pieces of anything, that’s a lot of product. You could get a 5% to 7% royalty, even a 10% royalty on a lower volume and your cash is going to be significantly less. I tell people, “Don’t get too caught up on royalty rate. Mostly focus on how much product is going to be sold and how much cash you can put in your pocket.”
I’ve had my own run ins with As Seen On TV pitch people and honestly, it’s never been that good of an experience for me or my clients. I’m anxious to dive into that a little bit and find out how you guys make that a success and what I’ve been doing wrong or if I’ve been looking at it wrong or talking to the wrong people. What will happen is I’ll have a client and I don’t know how people get ahold of, but every single client of mine has always been called by somebody that’s doing an As Seen On TV.
They get them all excited and they send me a quick email and the folks from As Seen On TV are interested in my product and it’s wonderful. We’re going to have a conference call and they want me to sit in and at the end they’re going to ask you for $30,000 or they’re going to ask you to sign over your product to them for a percentage if that’s what you want to do. We get on the call and it goes long.
At the end, is when the news comes about how expensive it is. We ask, “Let’s say we want to pay $30,000. Let’s say that we’re okay with that. If the revenue’s there, can you give us your thoughts on what we’ll do?” There’s a lot of hem hawing at this point. “We can’t give you that and we don’t know.” “Can you give us an example? Is there anybody we can talk to you that you’ve worked with?” “No,” and then at that point it starts to seem a little bit shady and then that’s it. We never go back down that road again. What are we doing wrong? How do you do it differently than what I’m used to?
Thank you for that. I love that candor. I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong and I don’t know if you’re dealing with the right people or the wrong people. I want to clarify that the term As Seen On TV is often misunderstood. People will often think of it as a company because you could go on AsSeenOnTV.com and that’s technically an online selling company. There is a company that has bought those words and so they try to position themselves as everything As Seen On TV. The truth about As Seen On TV is it’s really a category. Think of it as a section of shelves at Walmart. It’s no different than hardware or office supplies or sporting goods. There are lots of vendors that sell products into those other sections of the store, the same as with As Seen On TV.
There are many vendors that sell product into that section of stores. There tend to be two or three giant elephants and then a lot of little rabbits. I divide companies in rabbits, deer and elephant. There are three or four elephants that are really strong with getting the product on the shelf space because that’s no small endeavor. Just the operations alone of trying to put product in every Walmart, every CVS, every Walgreens and also running a simultaneous nationwide media campaign so that the people are not only having an opportunity to buy in TV but also buying up the store level, that’s huge. It takes a lot of money and a lot of operational infrastructure. Those elephant companies are strong at that and that’s to say that everyone in As Seen On TV is we work together, but we also compete with one another. Every deal is different but hardly any product would make it to that store shelf without having an elephant involved at some point along the way.
We have a lot of different companies looking for product because it’s a grand slam homerun in As Seen On TV. That section of shelves, because the cost is high to get to market with all the media expense, it’s way higher to get to As Seen On TV product on the shelves than it is to get any other place in the store because of all the media, then that’s expensive. You have to have a homerun. It has to be a grand slam homerun to get on those shelves. It goes through a lot of tests and that’s where the confusion is. There are many players involved in every part of that. Where will it launch very strong is on those early tests, the very early tests.
Anything on the public domain, there’s an As Seen On TV company or a company in our industry scouring the public domain. I had people scouring the public domain looking for products and those products, if they’re on the public domain, are being tested. They’re being tested with a survey, maybe with a web test. These are small, isolated tests so we do surveys and then we do web tests and then we do two-minute TV tests. The goal of all of that is to find the magic math formula that guarantees the financial return. For every one that sells ten are going to sell at the store level. We’re doing these tests trying to find what is the magic math formula.
There are three ways inventors can work with any company and As Seen On TV. One is the fully funded licensing agreement where we’re going to incur all those test costs, the survey, the web test, the two-minute TV test. A two-minute TV test costs about $50,000 to do. It’s expensive, but if it fails then you’ve lost that money. The As Seen On TV company, whoever did that, is going to drop that product because it didn’t pan out and that can be a risk to an inventor that doesn’t realize that. I see these companies blow $50,000 to $150,000 on product that they drop all the time and not just on As Seen On TV in every category. I see companies doing that and dropping product even on licensing agreements signed, but they can weather that storm because they’re a company, but an individual inventor usually cannot weather that storm. If you don’t have a lot of cash, you want the fully funded licensing agreement where you don’t have that cost.
Some inventors, they’re entrepreneurs, they’ve already put money in patents, they’ve already made some prototypes, they may behave a garage full from China. They don’t want to just license it and get a royalty. They’ve already put financial risk in and they want to be a part. They want a partnership deal. Those deals usually are anywhere from $15,000 to $17,000 to $30,000. That’s what’s going on there. Those are partnership deals where the As Seen On TV company is going to run that test and if that test is successful, they’ll get the right players involved and everybody can be happy.
The other deal would be a full consulting deal and that’s where the inventor would incur the entire $30,000 to $50,000 and they would pay for the two-minute TV test. The company like mine would only make the media. We might make 5% on the media buy but we wouldn’t be responsible for the trip end to the store shelves and this is where you see My Pillow, he did that. My Pillow funded the whole thing himself. The Pillow Pets way back when the Flex Seal, those are all guys that they paid all the money and they did it themselves. They have partnered with some of the elephants because that’s the only way to make it, but they incurred the money and they succeeded.
There are three kinds of deals, fully funded license agreement, partnership where you pay some money and consulting where you pay some money. There are unique differences of why you would do one or another. The reason your people are being sold the $30,000 to $50,000 is because those are just production companies that sell production services. That’s why they’re not being offered the other deals.
In the fully funded licensing situation, is that where maybe you have a prototype but you actually haven’t produced the product yet? You guys will go produce the product as well or does the product already have to be produced at that point?
Yes, we would produce it. At any point, we can do these tests on a well-made prototype. The product does not have to be produced. That’s why companies want to do consulting agreements. It’s basically a consulting agreement where they pay us the $50,000 to do the two-minute TV commercial. It’s a fast fail test is what it is because they can do that. We can shoot a commercial and make it look a finished good, but they haven’t incurred the expense to make the product, which is $300,000 to $500,000 a lot of times. Even on a low-cost, small run, it’s $30,000 to $40,000 to $50,000. What those companies that want consulting, they’re doing the fast fail test knowing that if it fails then they’re just going to drop it and move on to something else or they’re going to know it’s not a big grand slam, but it might be a single double triple which changes your launch sequence.
I was trying to figure out what’s on the fully funded licensing deal? Did the product already have to be produced and sitting somewhere or could that deal be made with just a prototype as long as you are liking the item?
All the deals can be made with just a prototype, but it needs to be a well-made prototype that with video magic we can make it look a finished good.
In your wheelhouse and what you do and what you’re good at, what is your favorite type of deal? Of the three that you described, what do you most look for?
I look for the product more than the type of deal. The type of deal doesn’t matter to me personally. I’m paid when the product sells at retail level and everything I do up until that product selling at retail level is an expense of money and time. For me it’s about finding the right product. That’s what rules and for me the right product is something that solves a problem that people are willing to pay to solve. That’s the caveat. Lots of products solve problems, people just aren’t willing to pay to solve them. You have to find the right product. I like physically small products because you can do more with them. They can fit on shelf space better. You can ship them. You have a lot more options.
Something that’s visually demonstrable is important. If you can come up with some unique wow factor, a lot of the products sold on TV or products that are selling in those other sections of the store, but they’re not marketed very well. If you make it the magic material or the special new whistle and bell, whatever, you add that marketing flair to it. I call it the wow factor. That’s what I look for. I look for those kinds of things more than the type of deal. The type of deal, in my mind, it’s related to how much money does the inventor have and how much are they willing to risk because I don’t want people to risk their 401(k)s.
A follow up question to that and I’m sticking on the licensing deal. I shouldn’t use this example, but I’m going to anyway. When you were watching Shark Tank and you see one of the sharks say, “I’ll just buy your company and I’ll give you $250,000 and 5% for life,” and the inventor says, “No.” I’m always blown away, I’m like, “Take the $250,000 and the 5% and run.” I guess that’s why I’m stuck here on the licensing thing. Question number two on that is I licensed my product to you for As Seen On TV and away you go and life is grand. Have I given up the rights to my product entirely and I can’t go sell it on Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond and wherever? Have I basically given up the entire rights to my product?
In almost all licensing agreements, whether As Seen On TV or any other category, you are renting, if you will, the rights to manufacture and sell your product and you cannot compete with that. If somebody is going to pay you money to make and sell your proprietary idea, then you don’t want to compete with them. It would be counterproductive to go sell it on Amazon, so the answer is yes, you are. There are licensing agreements where you can do separate things. For example, we tell people knock off yourself.
If you have a higher quality item, knock off yourself and let us run with a lower quality version for the As Seen On TV segment. In that case you can because it’s different. Anytime you’re in a licensing agreement, if you’re going to allow someone who’s much more financially positioned and experientially positioned to make money on your product, you don’t want to hinder them by competing with them, by selling on Amazon. That’s part of a licensing agreement. You’re not involved anymore and you’re allowing someone else to do it, but in return you’re not risking any cash and you’re not risking any time.
Inventors generally have other things that they’re working on. This allows them to say goodbye to their baby and then start working on baby number two. When people get too emotional about their baby and they don’t want it to leave the nest, that’s when these people are in Shark Tank are like, “No, I’m not going to take that deal. This is my baby and I want to cuddle it,” and I’m just, “Let it go.”
Let me jump in and tell a quick story about that. I love inventors. My husband’s an inventor. I’ve been around inventors twenty years but sometimes they’re very annoying and they’re very unrealistic. One example is I talked to a guy, we wanted to license his product. He had already blown $150,000 on his product and it hadn’t succeeded. It was failing. He wasn’t able to make a profit on it. We wanted to give him a full licensing deal and he said, “No, I don’t want a full licensing deal because I don’t want a 2% or 3% royalty. I want a 5% or 6% royalty and I want to be involved until you guys had to do it.”
I said to him, “You’re asking a company that launches products for a living, that makes money on products,” you’re saying, “I failed launching this product on my own. I have no more money left but I want you to pay me extra money and I’m going to tell you how to spend all of your money launching it,” even though you spent your own money launching it wrong, and I’m like, “You can’t do that. You can’t have it both ways. You cannot expect somebody else to pay all the bills and then you tell them how they’re going to do it, when that’s not even your level of experience. If they’re paying all the bills, they’re going to say how it’s done. If you’re going to pay all the bills, then you get to say how it’s done,” and that’s where ultimately the rubber meets the road.
If somebody wants to pay money, $30,000 or $50,000, then they get to be involved in the process. They get to be involved in the script, they get to be involved in the distribution and the testing. They get to see all the results and they’re buying in for a seat at the table and that’s fine. If they’re understanding the risks and they want that, then they should definitely do it. If they want to sit back and have cash, they don’t get to be involved in the process because they don’t have the experience to be. It eats up way more time trying to educate them. It’s easier to do it without them. That’s why on Shark Tank sometimes they’ll say, “I love your product. I don’t love you.”
If you knew how to do it, then you would have done it already. Let the experts take it. I’m loving this conversation because you’re being so honest with me and I feel like I just have this blank check to ask you any question and you’re going to tell me the answer, which is not my typical. When we get to the hard questions on the conference call, it’s when we get the hemming and hawing and they don’t want to say those things. Here’s my next question for you which is of the products that any company takes to the As Seen On TV funnel, whether it’s the big guy or the small guy, whoever is doing it, whether it’s you or whoever, what’s percent that really hit?
Not very many. I’m looking at probably 30 to 50 products per day, definitely per week, but sometimes per day. Of those, I can only help with maybe 10%. Only 10% would even fit the narrow criteria of As Seen On TV. I’ve got other places for the other 90% because I don’t want to let them go, they’re singles, doubles, triples. That’s the stat on initial review of the products that we’re testing. I would say industry wide of the surveys, web tests and two-minute tests, it might be 50/50, that might be being overly kind. It could be even worse than that of the ones that fail.
Of 100 products, ten make it to testing and of the ten that make it to testing, maybe five will meet the criteria.
Will succeed in the testing, but then that’s the beginning. There are other tests. There’s a series of tests that they have to jump through. You’re basically trying to get the math formula right. That’s when it’s not subjective anymore. It’s not about me as a person liking your product. It’s about quantifiable market data liking your product. This is either going to be a winner or it’s not, it’s going to be worth the time or it’s not. As Seen On TV is a grand slam play, like in baseball, not everybody that comes to the plate hits the grand slam. In fact, most of the people that come to the plate don’t hit a grand slam, but the singles, doubles and triples are great in other categories. That’s what I spend time doing too.
As far As Seen On TV, a grand slam can win the game. The big elephants, they’ve got enough cash to survive a long time. Most of the people like me and all the other rabbits and deer in the industry, we’re living on whatever the last royalty payer that we had was, and that’s the way it is for every company that launches products in any industry. You get revenue, you have a win, you have, “It’s wonderful, it’s payday,” but then you have to go a period of time and you don’t have a win again. If more time happens and you don’t have a win, then you’re out of business and/or you’re really hurting. You see, that’s the way it is to be in business. You have to keep getting the wins in order to keep the paycheck flowing.
What do you think and probably from what you’re telling me, you see more products certainly than I do and I see a lot of product and I know buyers see a lot of product, all the buyers I know at Costco. What do you think, if you were to quantify it down and shrink it down to the top three things a product absolutely has to have, to make it in now’s retail environment? Whether it’s As Seen On TV, on TV or whether it’s on the shelf, what do you think are the top three things that they absolutely have to have?
It depends on the distribution channel. That’s a tough question because I think it’s different based on the distribution. With TV, I told you what the grand slam requirements were about the problem solving. Problem solving is probably a key in any category. People don’t spend crazy money on silly things. It has to be something of value. There has to be a perceived value, a problem that they’re solving. I think it’s important. People also impulse buy things. The niche things, it might be a little bit different than the grand slam things, but either way it’s got to be a product that solves a problem and it has to be unique. You have to be pitching it in a unique way. The pitch is just as important as the problem solution.
I agree with you. I have many people that bring products to me and I’ve said this on the podcast before that they’re literally trying to create the problem for their product to solve it. They got into it, they want it so bad. It reminds me of a product that I saw and I think I actually saw it on Shark Tank where it was a little clip that went over the camera on your laptop, just clipped over the top of your screen. I can’t remember what shark said, he’s like, “I just put a little sticky note. Why can’t we just put a little piece of tape over that?” and the guy was just speechless. He couldn’t come up with a viable reason. That’s to your point where it has to solve a problem that people can’t generally solve on their own with a piece of tape over the camera so that they’re going to spend $6 or $5 on a little clip that clips over.
I agree with you with a problem solving. That’s a key part of how we pitch our products to buyers at retail now. The second thing you said, which was pitchability and that falls into unique. Your product solves a problem, but it may not be the only one out there that solves that particular problem or it may solve it differently. What are the uniques that make it special, that make it wow, that make it pitchable, whether you’re pitching it on a box, on TV or via the internet on Amazon? I agree with those two things. What do you think is easier? Is it best to finally get on the shelves? Where’s the money made in what you do? Is it on the shelves or on TV?
It’s on the shelves. It used to be that we would make more money on the TV side, but media is expensive and people aren’t always buying on the TV side. The TV is more of a testing ground. The money is absolutely made at the store level. What the TV does for us though is it tells us how much money we’re going to make. For example, we can do AB testing on TV. Once a product has jumped through the proper hoops and it’s queued up and we think, “We might have a winner here,” there’s a whole series of other tests that are done on particular features. For example, our product, the Windshield Wonder, it’s basically a reaching shammy that cleans under the window in your automobile under the dash. It reaches in there and cleans that. It cleans any window.
We tested that and it cleaned your bathroom and your sliding glass door and all the other places in your house where you want to clean windows. People wouldn’t buy it on that. They didn’t buy it at the numbers needed, but whenever we did that under the dash of the automobile, suddenly the numbers spiked on the test. We did two separate TV tests, one with just the auto feature and one with all the other uses, and all the other uses did not perform nearly as well as the one with the auto. The commercial is then changed to focus only on that one pitch and that makes sales higher at the store level where the money is.
Another test parameter is price point. My Get Up and Go Cane, that was one of our products where there was a product scout on that one and we tested that at $19.95 and $39.95. It did better at $39.95 than $19.95, but keep in mind all the costs are the same. You’re running the same commercial with a different price and one’s at $19.95, one’s $39.95. The $39.95 one works out better, you just doubled your profit and you didn’t increase your operating costs at all. That’s a huge thing to know early on, that and the different features so that’s the point of the TV. We’re not making money on the TV side as much as we’re gathering important data that is critical to make money at the retail store level.
Where’s the big As Seen On TV showing? Is it Walmart? Is it Walgreens? Where’s the pot at the end of the rainbow as far as getting on the As Seen On TV shelving?
If it makes it through the testing parameter, we’re going to get one of the elephant rollout partners involved that we’re on the phone with all the time. Walmart is by far the biggest seller of As Seen On TV products, they’re huge. After them it’s Walgreens, CVS and then everybody else is a distant fourth. Anywhere that As Seen On TV products are sold, whether it’s Bed Bath & Beyond or I saw on Nebraska Furniture Mart, it has a shelf. There are a few grocery stores I see having shelves now. Then there’s the Home Shopping Network and the QBC angles. They have a little As Seen On TV segments of their broadcast because they’re not As Seen On TV. They’re a whole different distribution channel but they have a segment just like a retailer would have shelf space. Anywhere that the products are sold, we’ve got the rollout partners have all of the salespeople and the distribution to handle all that. Predominantly Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and that’s where inventors should be looking. If you’re in New York, you can go to Rite Aid, they have a ton of tested products there on Rite Aid.
Have you ever had a product that you thought was hands down a winner? You saw it and the bells went off and it had everything that you could possibly imagine, it ticked every box and then it was a dud?
It happens all the time. It’s the most frustrating thing. All of my colleagues in the As Seen On TV industry all face this. What we all realize is that none of us really know and that’s why everything is tested. There are products all the time that you think this is going to be a winner, there’s no way this isn’t going to be a winner. You do the test and it comes back a dud. It’s so disheartening and discouraging when that happens. There are other products and it comes by and you think, “It’s okay,” and then all of a sudden the sales are spiking, it’s going great and you’re like, “I didn’t see that coming at all.” That’s what we all realize is all I really know is I know what’s been tested and what’s failed, which is a huge bit of information to have in my arsenal, in my tool box. I don’t want to spend time retesting things that other people have already tested and they failed.
I’ve got my eye on the whole industry and I see everything. Once people test a product on TV, it’s public information. We’ve got all kinds of databases and this is why you get calls whenever people put their invention on the public domain because As Seen On TV market is scouring the public domain, me and my people. It happens all the time and what we know is we never know until it tests and that’s why it doesn’t matter to me if we’re going to spend the risk to test it or if the investor wants to chip in some money and test it, it doesn’t matter to me whether they want to or not. It matters to me if they don’t have the money that matters because I’d want to tell them not to do it. As long as they have understanding of the risk and their entrepreneurial, we might want them involved. If they want to test it, that’s great. Let’s test it. Nobody really knows until it’s tested.
Is once an As Seen On TV product always an As Seen On TV product?
Generally, an As Seen On TV product is going to have a one to five-year life cycle. At the end of that life cycle, when the bell curve product is showing that royalties are going down, sales are going down, at that point the inventor would then receive those rights back to that product and As Seen On TV category would drop that because we thrive on new products. We’re always looking for the next new product. They could take that product and sell it in other sections of the store. We do find that going on more and more where sometimes you might find that product after the As Seen On TV life cycle is over, you might find it in the kitchen section or the inventor would take it to the automotive aftermarket like they did with our Windshield Wonder product.
Automotive aftermarket doesn’t have As Seen On TV shelves, so the inventor took it and sold some there. Those sales in my experience, often significantly less moneymakers because they’re back to the singles, doubles, triples analogy. Those other shelf spaces don’t sell as many products as the As Seen On TV shelf space that’s up at the front of the store with all the media behind it. They’re not going to make as much money, but I always say, “I’ll take some money rather than no money any day of the week,” so they should do it.
They could always freshen it up, repackage it, give it a facelift and then retake it to market. Quick question on the whole licensing thing. If somebody licenses it to you and then you test it and it fails, it never even makes it out of testing. What happens to that product then?
It goes back to them. We don’t keep it. We’re not trying to hold anybody up. The rights would revert back to them. Their agreements basically canceled at that point and they get it back. They’re free to go on, try to license it wherever else they can.
Perfect. I say perfect like I tried to license something to you and I’m all excited now that if it doesn’t work, I get it back.
That’s the thing I hate about my job is I feel I’m raining on people’s parade all the time and I don’t like that because I’m positive, I want to be encouraging and I want to encourage people to move forward with their product ideas. It’s just the reality of the situation is a lot of products, whether you’re an inventor or a company, a lot of them don’t make any money. I’ve got to be candid with people and tell them about the risks and if they do get a deal that has the potential to make money, please take the deal and say, “Thank you,” and don’t make it harder on everybody.
Did you hear that, Big Boxers? If you get a deal that’s going to make money, take it.
Yes, and say, “Thank you,” please.
Thank you for being so candid and pulling back the curtains a little bit so that myself and my audience can understand that situation. It makes me feel like there’s no reason not to have that conversation or at least broach that conversation and see what it’s all about.
Thank you. I try to be candid because I want people to give me the first look. That’s my ulterior motive. If I can see things first, I will give candid feedback and I’ll say if it’s already been tested and failed, or I don’t recommend you putting any money in it or I’ll say, “We’re going to test this. Please give me an opportunity to confidentially test this.” If I can see things before they’re on the public domain, that’s great because in this fast-paced society, when something gets on the public domain, you’re opening yourself up to competition now from offshore and Amazon, like never before. If we can get an early look, that’s better. Even if an item’s on the public domain, if I can get a look at it, if it can get on my radar screen, I appreciate that.
Carrie, you wrote a book also. I don’t want to finish up without talking to the fact that you put pen to paper and wrote a book.
It’s called Sell Crowdfunding Products On TV. It basically is very comprehensive. It’s all the questions that I get asked all the time and it’s a great read for anybody that has inventive ideas. There’s a whole middle section where I go through inventing techniques and I give examples of As Seen On TV products that use that. I want people’s creative juices to get sparked and I want them to start looking around their environment, seeing problems and then coming up with a solution that could be the next As Seen On TV product. I spent a lot of time focused on that and I tell some horror stories too and some little landmines to watch out for.
What’s been in your recollection since you’ve been in the industry? The biggest, not that you did it, but overall biggest As Seen On TV product ever?
The Snuggies pretty undeniable is one of the biggest As Seen On TV products ever. My personal belief on that one is the timing was right. The economy had gone south and people wanted a little blankie, snuggle up in their home. Our company, Will It Launch, has been involved with the Magic Mesh. That was one that we launched and founded and that’s broken a lot of records. It’s on your six or seven now, which usually five is about as far as they go, and that thing is still selling pretty strong even though there are knockoffs out there. It’s still going pretty strong and it’s a great product. It’s been one for the record books for sure.
I knew that Snuggie had made it when I saw it on the shelf at Staples and I’m like, “Staples is trying to capitalize it and make a little extra margin here.” It’s Snuggie on the shelf at Staples. I remember that. Everybody needed to snuggle up. I used to be in the vacuum industry. I worked Oreck Vacuums as a Director of Storage for them. It’s interesting when the economy goes down, vacuum sales go up.
Why do you think that is?
People, one of the first things that they cut is housekeeping. When you get laid off or if you’re going to cut something out of your monthly expenses, housekeeping gets cut. They go and they grab their vacuum because they’re going to do it themselves and their vacuum is just a disaster. They go out and get themselves a new vacuum. If I’m going to have to do this myself, then I need something better. Even back before Oreck, I sold vacuums door-to-door, which is probably the most humbling experience that anyone could ever go through. Although the techniques that we used to use in door-to-door sales were very harsh and very in your face. What I ended up doing once I got to Oreck is I softened those up and it was one of the things that made me successful there is I brought a whole new level of selling to them. It was what I had learned doing door–to-door but just softened up.
We used to do this thing with couples where I would look at the husband, I would say, let’s say his name was Jim, “Jim, let me ask you this. Let’s say your wife just decided that she’s never going to vacuum again, that she’s done with vacuuming and vacuuming is not something that she’s ever going to engage in again. That’s your job now. You are going to be the vacuumer of your house. Would you rather vacuum with your current vacuum or with the vacuum that I’ve been showing you?” At that point he’s done either way, no matter what he says, he’s wrong. If he says that he’d rather vacuum with his piece of junk vacuum, we know he’s lying. If he says that he’d buy my vacuum, then he knows that he’s in trouble with his wife because she’s going to be saying, “If you’re vacuuming it’s okay to get the good vacuum. If I’m vacuuming, I can stay with the piece of junk.” It was this back in corner situation where no matter what he said, I knew that I had won at that point.
That’s great experience with the consumer buying habits too. If we could get a bunch of consumer buying habit experience together and then figure out what we can invent from there, that would be great. That’s wonderful knowledge.
I could talk for an hour about door-to-door vacuum sales and maybe I’ll do that as a fun factoid podcast. I don’t want to take up anymore of your time. I appreciate everything that you’ve shared with myself and the Big Boxers. It’s been hugely valuable. I have one other question for you. It has nothing to do with As Seen On TV or anything, but it sounds like you’re juggling a lot like we all do every day. I ask all my guests on the show specifically, how do you keep everything straight? Productivity-wise and to-do-list-wise and managing your schedule. What do you use? What’s your little personal hack that you use to keep everything together?
I do a thing I call time blocking where I have my entire week broken down into blocks of time and they’re for different kinds of activities. Like every Thursday morning that’s the weekly review. I know that when people are asking me, “Can you talk to me then? Can you meet with me now?” I already have these predefined blocks of time where that can happen. If it’s out of that block of time, I just can’t do it unless it’s such a priority, but almost never it is. Almost everything fits in the nice blocks. I also block out me time. I don’t tell people, “Sorry, I’m going to play pickle ball or do whatever I want to do during this period of time,” because I’m a pretty active person, but I have this section of time that’s me time. I’m turning off my phone, I’m turning off my computer. I’m going to be with the people that I’m at for real. I’m going to be fully present with the people that I’m with.
Scheduling-wise, the blocks of time I get, there’s a twenty-minute blocks of time. There’s a whole system around that.
I do half day here, half day there.
I need bigger blocks.
What about all the little to-do-list on your thing? How do those not fall through the cracks?
They probably do. I try to use email as much as I can. I do use different reminder list, but I don’t get stuff done with the reminder list. It’s too easy for me to click dismiss, snooze or whatever. What I do is I keep the reminder list so I don’t forget stuff, but I have to be led by my passion. I’m not a person that can work, if I don’t like. My husband can do it. He can make himself do anything but I cannot. Sometimes I’ll write two things on my list that I’ve time blocked and I know that this block is for this group of activities, then I’ll put what are the two priorities I have to get done. Within that half day segment, I’m going to do the two things that I have to get done but then I’m also going to let my mind flow with the million other things that I could be doing, and I’m going to do what feels right at the time. Most of the time, I’m churning through email and looking at product videos, that’s what I’m doing a lot of the time.
What I’ve learned recently, for me it’s three priorities and then I have some other to-do’s that are like minute to-do’s, call this person back. Just three main priorities and three doesn’t sound like a lot. If you accomplish all three of those things every single day, by the end of the week, I’m always astounded at how much I got done. When I started on that process, I didn’t think it would work because I’m like, “I need to do way more than three things a day.” That’s just not going to move the needle, but it comes down to, for me, the three things, what are they?
Sometimes I get them done pretty quick and I can knock out the rest of my little things and I can even knock off early maybe. I have found over the last six or so months that if I do the three things, and sometimes I’m up late finishing the last third thing, but if I stick to that, I accomplished a lot during the week. That’s just fifteen things, fifteen major things. Thanks for that insight. Organization was not born to me. I’ve never been super good at that, so I have to work hard at it and so I always like to ask all my guests what they do so that I can learn from them.
You’ve got some great questions, Tim. I really like your podcast. I’m glad that we were connected. Thanks a lot for giving me this time.
It’s been truly my pleasure. Hopefully, as some other questions build up, maybe we’ll do it again. Carrie, thanks again so much and we will talk to you soon.
Bye, Big Boxers.
Complete truth be told, Carrie killed it. She gave it all up. She’s not holding anything back and that is a telling sign of how she’s going to treat you, how she’s going to treat me, how she’s going to treat anyone who wants to do business in that industry. If she’s willing to tell you the truth about how many gets through, with the percentages, how it works, what’s good, what’s bad, how it might affect you? If she’s going to be a straight shooter, then she’s going to give you the straight shot if you’re interested in taking your product down that path. That’s like I said before at the beginning of the podcast, that’s refreshing to me because my experience before was not like that. Carrie, thanks so much for coming on the show. Thanks so much for your candid answers and you’re a fantastic personality. It was a pleasure speaking with you. I know that all the big boxers out there got a tremendous amount of information. Looking forward to the next time that we speak and I can’t wait for us to get some comments on this podcast so that we can get even more questions and do a follow-up.
We have a podcast website that’s up and running. It’s called OnTheShelfNow.com. That’s where you can go and browse around. That’s a podcast website. It’s still in progress, so there are still things that are being done and getting up to speed. We have our first six or last six podcasts that have blog posts, which means that they have a complete transcription of the entire podcast written out. If you want to read through, there are things that you wanted to remember, things that might’ve been said that you want to go back and read, you can do those on OnTheShelfNow.com. Sign up for our newsletter. Let us know that you were there. Looking forward to that being a great tool for all of you. If you want to submit a question, if you want to get a hold of us, you can still do those the usual way. You can reach out to us on our Twitter account @TLBConsult. You can reach out to us on Facebook TLB Consulting and you can reach out to us on our Facebook closed group, On The Shelf Now on Facebook. All you have to do is go to On The Shelf “Now” on Facebook and hit join and you’re in to the extended conversation. I had a great time, I hope you guys did too. I can’t wait to do it again but until next time, I look forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.
Carrie Jeske shares insider secrets to get ideas on the As Seen on TV shelf space at Walmart and everywhere Direct Response industry products are sold.
Carrie Jeske is a direct licensee in the “As Seen On TV” category, paying full inventor royalties, through Will It Launch. No patent is required. You just need a well-made prototype to explain the unique benefits and problem solved by your invention. Market ready products launch at lightning speed. Products in stores now are Get Up And Go Cane, RotoClipper, My Fun Fish and the newest 60 Second Salad – that’s gone viral.
Carrie’s connections in other distribution channels is vast. Through Inventive Ideas, Carrie Jeske manages a team of product scouts and licensing agents around the world, that work to secure distribution agreements and license filed patents. Successful products include SportsShade Canopy Awning, The Perfect Party Chair and Attach-A-Vac.
Helping inventors find low cost, high return inventing strategies is her passion. Carrie, along with her inventor husband of 30 years formed a nonprofit company, Inventing Workshop, that brings inventors and product developers together online to brainstorm specific inventions that are licensed; with royalties split among active members. The group provides funding to a variety of start-up endeavors.
Meetup with Carrie Jeske at a location near you. Prepare in advance by reading her new book, “Sell Crowdfunding Products On TV – Fast Track To Retail” on Amazon. Online reviews appreciated.
Carrie Jeske posts travel calendar on Facebook and is active on these social networks: FACEBOOK LINKEDIN YOUTUBE TWITTER