Louis Theroux and his Weird Weekends. Over a decade ago he poked his nose in the world of tv shopping channels, centring on an American station in Tampa.
Our first exposure was to a room full of presenters, fully pumped and ready to rock. One guy was pitching magnets for health and sleep purposes. When Louis raised his vocal eyebrow with a knowing chuckle, the snap back was instant; they’d once sold $1m in one day. Whoa!
The next guy was about to promote a cleaning product. “What’s Oxy Clean?” Louis quizzed, bringing the again instant response, “it’s a cleaner that works so you don’t have to!”
Even in this fleeting moment of docu-telly, I couldn’t help wondering just how many salespeople could really rattle off such apt retorts when put on the spot like that about their own wares.
Much of the show was a lesson in how to do a presentation as Louis grew increasingly nervous over his own product pitch live on air (eventually for a paper shredder) for the film’s denouement.
Here’s a flavour of the (terrific) tips from the experts:
- Flash is cash, make it look colourful
- People buy belief in the person
- Bring it to life, make it exciting and fun
- Preparation of materials/props and verbal out-loud practice were rigorous
- Referring to products’ full model names/numbers makes you look like an expert
- Describe your product, say what it looks like, then what it does and how it helps quick quick, then bang into the demo
- Get quickly into the demo, cut down all chat to almost zero before pressing any buttons
And don’t think that this is just typical American over-the-top zany dross. One mentor was an English guy who’d been there six years, with even the usually cynical Louis moved to acclaim his skill.