The Wall Street Journal:

Over the years, they’ve been comfort to insomniacs, the punch line of many jokes, and the butt of “Saturday Night Live” skits.

But here’s something you may not know about infomercials: They work, and a growing number of small businesses are using them.

In fact, amid widespread weakness in the retail sector, companies behind the Shamwow, PedEgg and other products are thriving, thanks to infomercials, also known as direct-response television, or DRTV.

TeleBrands Corp., creator of the PedEgg foot-care product, says profits are up 30% from the same period last year.

Square One Entertainment, Miami Beach, Fla., the seller of the Shamwow absorbent towels, says it has sold 48 million Shamwow products since launching in November 2007. Both companies declined to reveal revenue.

Sam Catanese, president and chief executive of Infomercial Monitoring Service Inc., estimates the number of businesses using infomercials has risen 10% in the past year.

The recession, he says, “means more sales as businesses are getting better air time at lesser prices and more people are watching in places they weren’t watching before.”

These spots offer small businesses a way to advertise inexpensively and get quick, measurable results.

The cost of television ad time has fallen as much as 50% from years past, largely because so many Fortune 500 companies slashed their advertising budgets, particularly in the auto and financial-services industries.

Suddenly, DRTV advertisers had access to cheaper ad spots on more popular networks, which meant that infomercials could air at better time slots with more viewers.

Continue Reading: “As Seen (Often) on TV!”

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