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How I Got My Brand on QVC

Contact Author Alisa Marie Beyer, LemonTree Partners
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  • In 2014, I created a luxury brand of body care products called Coastal Salt & Soul, which ultimately landed on-air at QVC in 2016.
  • Although I loved every minute of being on-air, it was clear that my passion and talent lay in behind-the-camera storytelling, and not the on-air telling of it.
  • For Coastal Salt & Soul, I was lucky; I already had well-established relationships with Matt Allison, owner of The Barrett Group, which prepares brands for the global home shopping marketplace. Therefore, the process of finding a broker willing to work with me was relatively seamless.
  • Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you about my cheesy sentimental nature, that I cry at the drop of a hat and adore all things beauty-related. They’ll also tell you, “Alisa loves QVC.”
  • As a Pennsylvania girl, I grew up a stone’s throw from QVC’s corporate headquarters and have always been dazzled by its allure, glamor and the excitement of what it represents.

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Alisa Marie Beyer will present “Entrepr­eneur’s Corner: Get the Real and Raw Story” at Cosmoprof North America’s 2018 exhibition. Tickets are now on sale.

In 2014, I created a luxury brand of body care products called Coastal Salt & Soul, which ultimately landed on-air at QVC in 2016. This was a dream come true. The whole experience was intoxicating—the excitement, the glamour, the green room, the stage and, of course, watching the calls flood in.

But before I came anywhere near all that on-air glamour I had to crack the QVC code that would enable me to get my brand accepted by its buying team. This process was one of the most exciting and intense things I have experienced in my career, and I hope my story helps you to achieve your own goals and dreams of on-air selling.

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Further reading: Qurate: The Third Way to Shop

My Journey to "Yes"

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you about my cheesy sentimental nature, that I cry at the drop of a hat and adore all things beauty-related. They’ll also tell you, “Alisa loves QVC.”

As a Pennsylvania girl, I grew up a stone’s throw from QVC’s corporate headquarters and have always been dazzled by its allure, glamour and the excitement of what it represents.

After graduating from college, I paid $75 for an “all-access” tour of QVC headquarters, which is unexpectedly tucked into an obscure office park on Philadelphia’s outskirts. This anonymous and vast facility spans a lot the size of 15 football fields. 

Even after presenting 10 ideas, I still had yet to enjoy a single “yes” from the buying team.

The first time I visited, I was immediately hooked. And when QVC debuted Diane von Furstenberg's wrap dress in 1992, my minor addiction became a total obsession. (Yes, I do still own quite a few of those dresses.) I also knew who Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano was, long before the movie Joy was released in theaters. I had followed her—although “stalked” is probably more apt—career, scanning the halls for my inspiration whenever I had a meeting at QVC’s offices. Sadly, I have yet to meet either Joy or Diane von Furstenberg.

But the real reason I fell in love with QVC was because it provided a woman like Joy with the opportunity to tell her story and the story of her product to all those women watching from home, who heard that story and related to the product’s place in their own lives. For Joy to produce the produce she wanted and then sell all her inventory in a matter of minutes was certainly a dream come true. I wanted that dream for myself.

It goes without saying that, aside from your products and your spokesperson, the most important person onstage during your show is the QVC host.

After spending a decade helping many other brands enter QVC’s front doors and watching so many on-air dreams come true, I knew that I wanted to create my own brand. And so, finally, I did just that.

But before I achieved success, I had quite a few colossal failures: from sexy swimsuits for women to fun beach towels for kids to “butt-tastic” yoga pants—you get the idea. Even after presenting 10 ideas, I still had yet to enjoy a single “yes” from the buying team.

How did I finally do it?

I had to achieve three main elements (see T-1).

1. Get the Facts

The customer I spent hours poring over every bit of QVC research I could access, specifically in my category. I learned about QVC’s typical consumer and what she likes and doesn’t like.

I discovered what she will tune in to watch and what she will skip in favor of going to start dinner. I determined how much time she spent watching QVC and which categories she regarded as “faves.”

I figured out what it was that made her either finally pick up the phone to call in an order or pick up her remote to switch channels and watch re-runs of The Real Housewives.

The competition

In addition to my in-depth study of the QVC customer, I dove into learning about my competition. I reviewed hours of on-air videos of my competitors, asking myself important questions and getting a firm grasp of how this was all supposed to work: How did they pitch? Who did they select as a spokesperson?

As a consumer, what captured my attention and what turned me off? I learned the formula that made some products bestsellers and clarified what kept others from meeting the mark. I made sure to read every review I could find of my competitors’ products—they were a goldmine.

The hosts

Finally, I devoted considerable time to watching, reading, and learning about QVC hosts. It goes without saying that, aside from your products and your spokesperson, the most important person onstage during your show is the QVC host.

Be as prepared as the people you pitch to Getting a solid grasp of such important market and competitive research before you walk into your meeting goes a long way toward ensuring that you and your brand make the right impression.

Your brand deck can make all the difference in determining whether you have a brand that makes it onto QVC or stalls out in a buyer’s email inbox.

Concealed within all the data I had studied were powerful and dynamic clues that showed how to present my own brand most persuasively, and the pitfalls I would have to avoid.

The members of QVC’s buying team are extremely smart: they know QVC; they are familiar with the QVC consumer; they are experts on the current brand portfolio. Trust me, you don’t want to find yourself pitching these guys a product that they already have.

2. Create the Sell

Your brand deck can make all the difference in determining whether you have a brand that makes it onto QVC or stalls out in a buyer’s email inbox.

Usually presented in a PowerPoint presentation, your brand deck typically represents the very first impression your brand will make on QVC’s corporate audience. This means that the deck must immediately tell the buyers who you are, why your brand is special, why they should care about it and, most importantly, why it deserves to be on-air. 

You must identify a human resource that understands exactly how this home shopping process operates. That means you must find a broker.

Not just any presentation deck will suffice. After working with hundreds of brand owners to create brand decks—and going through the exercise as a brand owner myself—I learned that brands fail to make it onto QVC because they fail to provide clear explanations of what they actually do and why anyone should buy what they have to offer.

To get QVC, or any home shopping network, for that matter, to say “yes” to your brand, you must to craft a brand story framework that is simple, effective and persuasive.

3. Secure Your Spot

Find a broker

Most people won’t attempt to buy a house or lease office space without the expert help of a realtor or real estate broker; this same principle applies to successfully making it onto any home shopping channel.

Before, during and even after you’ve had a show, you will need help selling and managing your brand. You must identify a human resource that understands exactly how this home shopping process operates. That means you must find a broker.

Nothing could possibly compare to the feeling of driving onto the QVC campus, walking down the hallway of stars, seeing the photos of all the famous hosts, guests and presenters who had walked this path before me, and, finally, stepping onto the stage to sell my product.

For Coastal Salt & Soul, I was lucky; I already had well-established relationships with Matt Allison, owner of The Barrett Group, which prepares brands for the global home shopping marketplace. Therefore, the process of finding a broker willing to work with me was relatively seamless.

I cannot overstate the importance of this relationship to the success of any brand owner. Once you have managed to secure a broker and he or she has audited your brand to determine what it requires to attain success on QVC, then, ideally, your brand is ready to glide along the yellow-brick road to the most magical part of the process—the buyer meeting.

The buyer meeting

The buyer meeting, as I have already noted, is the most critical piece of the entire process of getting on air. You are going to have to impress buyers who see thousands of pitches a year—talk about intense competition! You must assume that they have seen and heard it all, because they have. Therefore, your brand elements must be fully optimized and presentation-ready.

Success, with a Caveat

When I pitched Coastal Salt & Soul to QVC, we got the meeting, the buyers said yes and, “soon”—after months and months of work—I was scheduled to go on the air. (The “we” was a real village of my amazing team and partners—and my family.)

As a brand owner who had always dreamed of getting her own products onto QVC, I discovered that the reality had the fantasy beat. Nothing could possibly compare to the feeling of driving onto the QVC campus, walking down the hallway of stars, seeing the photos of all the famous hosts, guests and presenters who had walked this path before me, and, finally, stepping onto the stage to sell my product.

Although I loved every minute of being on-air, it was clear that my passion and talent lay in behind-the-camera storytelling, and not the on-air telling of it.

At QVC, I was afforded the opportunity to tell my story to approximately 70-80 million people simultaneously. The experience was transformative. It changed how I think about branding and brands altogether.

However, this is the time to come clean with the most ironic part of my story. As I have just shared, it had long been my goal to create a brand and “go on” QVC. We succeeded. QVC named Coastal Salt & Soul one of the “Top 3 Beauty Brands for 2017” and identified our brand as the consumer’s “Next New Obsession.” Our Heavenly Hand Cream was also a 2017 Customer Choice nominee.

Ultimately, the most important step for brands considering the home shopping model is the early attainment of knowledge about the challenges they face.

But here’s the kicker: it turns out that I was not so great on air! Although I loved every minute of being on-air, it was clear that my passion and talent lay in behind-the-camera storytelling, and not the on-air telling of it.

Even I could not avoid this truth, but I am thrilled that I had the chance to try. The brand announced in early 2018 that we’d found an amazing talent to put in front of the camera to continue to tell the Coastal Salt & Soul story to the QVC audience: guest host superstar Susie Hassan. Truth be told, I will have more fun sitting in the green room cheering her on!

Is this Your Dream?

The home shopping business model has completely transformed how people around the world shop, and it changed my life. I recognize that this journey is not for everyone.

Some brands (and brand owners) will never have the draw, desire, or interest to market and sell on TV. Others, who share my passion, will gladly take on the burden of work and effort required to get their products live and on-air.

Ultimately, the most important step for brands considering the home shopping model is the early attainment of knowledge about the challenges they face. This is the only way they can be honest with themselves about whether they can do what it takes to make it on QVC.

But if you work with the right experts, conduct your due diligence and make sure to optimize your business operations, your QVC dream may just come true.

Mine sure did.

Alisa Marie Beyer is a wife, mother of three teenagers, and entrepreneur who has created and sold five of her own brands. Every day, she is inspired to help client brands clarify their messages and tell better and more compelling stories, so people will connect and listen to them. Her latest venture, LemonTree Partners, works with clients to create brands that become irreplaceable in consumers’ hearts. She believes that a brand is a story well-told—and Alisa Marie loves to tell stories!

T-1. How to get a “yes” from QVC

1. Build the Foundation

Get Your Facts and Set Up

  • The research: QVC facts, consumers, strategy and visions
  • Competitive landscape: Analysis of products you will compete against on-air and online
  • Claims management: Product claim validations and verifications
  • Brand spokesperson: Identify candidates; create audition tapes
  • Get social: Substantiation of social media engagement
  • Warehouse and fulfillment: Know requirements and begin integration
  • Production: Finished goods to show; meet requirements and quality testing

2. Create the Sell

Build a Brand Story They Will Want to Hear

  • Brand strategy and identity: Create all foundational brand elements and validate their utility
  • Craft the perfect pitch: Identify the brand and present the product story
  • Finished goods: Furnish internal relations teams with product samples

3. Secure Your Spot Walk Out the Door with a “Yes”

  • Connect with a brand broker: Identify your QVC representative
  • Target home shopping retailer: Schedule and secure meeting
  • Review the “sell” with buyers: Conduct a one-hour “show and tell”
  • Retailer agreements: Prepare vendor paperwork, agreements
  • Planning sessions: Meet with buying team regarding air dates, special offers
  • Purchase orders: Manage process of obtaining opening purchase orders

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