The Electronic Retailing Association

ERA GLOBAL Digital Events, November webinar

2020 nov bob julian

Bob Circosta, the world’s first ever TV teleshopping host, the man whose named will be forever linked to the birth of the home shopping industry, was our main guest at the second ERA GLOBAL Digital Event, on 24th November.

Dr. Julian Orberndörfer, CEO ERA GLOBAL, interviewed Bob about the first moments of teleshopping and Bob’s key-lifetime learnings that are still applicable to our industry today. As the host of a daily radio show, Bob initially sold products via the airwaves. Bob would take all calls and orders from his listeners himself, creating relationships with his audience which would last for decades and shape the industry as we know it today.

Whatever I was able to accomplish, it’s because of what others taught me to do. We are all in this together. We all are one industry and we need to stay together and make it better all the time.

Bob Circosta

DPM concept

2020 nov bob the board
Bob Cicorsta was welcomed by Jonathan Gregory and Ken Daly, ERA GLOBAL Board Members

Sell!? I‘m a news man!“ These were Bob’s words when back in 1977 his boss told him to sell a box of avocado-green can openers during his daily radio show. Bob was a talk show host at a small Clearwater AM radio station. His boss was Budd Paxson, a visionary of those times.

As a local appliance company had paid the station for their aired commercial with … a box of avocado can openers, Bob was told to sell the products on air. So he did (he sold 112 of them!) and the home shopping industry was borne on a local radio show in Florida.

These were the days when Bob would take all phone calls himself without any help. Times when, even after the staff had grown, the whole show would take place in a room no bigger than a closet.

In 1982, the local radio station and its daily teleshopping show went national. Strategies would be tested and come to life. “We had no idea that we were creating an industry. If it worked, we continued. If it didn’t, we would stop. The constant factor was time. (…) It was as critical back then as it is critical in today’s home shopping industry. It’s not about selling a whole bunch of products, but about selling the most amount in the least amount of time. The constant factor is TIME!”, revealed Bob, the man who stands behind the DPM concept - dollar per minute.

“The major key to this business: interaction and keeping the viewers involved”

2020 nov bob budd margolis 2
Budd Margolis, expert in driving retail via commercializing digital and video platforms and one of Bob's old friends, connected to the webinar as a surprise

Are the rules back then still the same today? With the global pandemic’s impact on the world economy?

The relationship has been the key from the beginning. We all have a great responsibility that we are sharing products with the audience and make their lives better. When somebody ordered from the local radio, I (myself) would deliver the product to their house at the very beginning. Of course, this can’t apply now. But the relationship is so powerful. Because of the pandemic we face another environment. Many people stay and work from home and this is our great way to communicate.

“Back at the beginning we had to keep in mind that we were the most convenient way to (…) shop other than catalogues. I think we have to answer the question: how can we get more convenient to the consumer? Those who make it more convenient will succeed. (….) We can’t leave out the viewer. I hope we never lose that. That is the major key to this business: interaction and keeping the viewers involved. There is more competition now than ever before. Make sure you include the viewer in the process of selling!” said Bob.

Find out more about Bob‘s bestsellers over time and which products can raise sales nowadays in Bob’s  full interview.


“I call it my 3-52 rule”

2020 nov bob 1985
1985: the big moment when home shopping switched from radio to TV

And then came the big moment: in 1985, the station went national on TV and so home shopping also transitioned from radio to TV, shaping the industry the way it is today! But the initial move to TV came as a real disappointment: only 352 dollars worth of product were sold in the first 5 hours of the TV show. In contrast, Bob had been generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales via his radio show. One of Bob’s most successful radio campaigns was selling the first ever computer, with sales amounting to one million dollars in only one hour!

I call it my 3-52 rule. I’ve talked to so many entrepreneurs and they all want to succeed immediately. That’s not going to happen. I always tell them about my 3-52 rule. What if we had told ourselves (after the first 5 hours on TV) ‘that’s it, it’s not going to work!’.  Within 90 days, we did a million dollars a day! And then a billion dollars in one year! Home shopping was not a success from the start.