By Jennifer Leonard
Meet Ken Laner, a product broker who specializes in getting new vendors on the QVC airwaves. His company, 6 Ideas, which launched in 2002, fields as many as 10 to 15 calls a week for people looking to crack the home-shopping behemoth.
“I hear from inventors, entrepreneurs, all the way up to household name brands,” says Laner, who lives in Evergreen, Colorado. “While I can’t guarantee success, your odds [of getting on] are at least 50% better when you use a broker.”
That’s because professionals like Laner have an inside track to QVC buyers. “I have the relationships,” he explains. “And the buyers don’t have time to educate sellers on what they need to know. They appreciate it when we take care of that.”
One of his biggest successes came with Drive Medical, a manufacturer of electric scooters, walkers and other home healthcare products. “The Rollator, a walker with a built-in seat, does very well,” Laner says. “We’ve had different versions of it on for the past eight years.”
To date, he estimates Drive Medical has made $10 million in sales with QVC.
Of course, a broker’s top priority is making sure the product speaks to the retailer’s demographic: “You want to appeal to women over 40,” Laner says. “They are very loyal customer base for QVC.”
It’s also important to have more than a prototype before pitching a broker. “I literally tell people to call me back when they have a real product,” he says, adding that he usually wants vendors to have about 2,000 product units ready. “I want to see and touch it to make sure it works before I call my contacts at QVC.”
Another key factor is pricing. “They require that you to offer your product lower than anyone else on the Internet,” he says. “If it’s $19.95, it can’t be on Amazon at a lower price.”
Once a new vendor makes the cut, Laner then works with them from initial pitch to going live on-air. Occasionally, there are minor disagreements: “I usually steer the vendor to hiring a local professional expert to [go on-air], because sales are typically better,” he says. “But sometimes they are set on doing it themselves.”
While Laner focuses on the product categories of home healthcare, fitness, electronics, and hardware, he’s open to any phone call. “I love hearing pitches and don’t really have any restrictions. I will talk to anyone and give them a minimum of 15 minutes of time,” he says.
Jennifer Leonard is a writer at VISTA Today, specializing in retail and consumer marketing.
A resident of West Goshen, Jennifer has nearly 20 years of experience as a full-time editor and writer for magazines including Woman’s World, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen.
Jennifer is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.