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Media Zone: The Direct Response Industry Will Shine in 2009

1 Feb, 2009 By: Doug Frankel Response

A round the globe, they say that when the United States sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. One look at economic conditions in the U.S. and around the world today shows the truth in that statement. Now, with the challenges that the world is facing due to a dramatic downturn in major economic indicators, and the pressures that many companies and businesses are up against, is the perfect time for the entire direct response industry to shine — and, as Aretha Franklin sings, finally get "just a little respect."

Doug Frankel
Doug Frankel

It's high time for the DR industry to be recognized for what we accomplish successfully for so many clients on a daily basis: perform and grow business to scaleable ROIs, no matter whether it's for a product, service or lead-generation program.

When times get tough, all marketers must increase their focus on what works and what doesn't. If you ask major companies how their marketing/advertising efforts are working, they may tell you, for example, that, "Sales are up 4 percent," or ask, "Did you see our cool new TV commercial during that sporting event?" But does that really tell us how they are specifically doing with radio, TV, newspaper and online advertising? Often, many of these influential advertisers really don't know specific media efficiency ratios (MER) for each media outlet.

Guess what — direct response advertising offers those answers! Direct response advertising is economy-proof and, in fact, saw double-digit increases in media spending during the first nine months of 2008. Why? Because DR advertising has been, and should always be, about three things: performance, performance and performance. When a client really wants to evaluate how the dollars they spend directly influence its bottom line, DR advertising shines on.

Today, what we are seeing — even with brand advertisers — is a plan of action to move from straight branding and awareness advertising to a "branded" call-to-action. Now, with marketing dollars being scrutinized by companies everyday, this type of advertising is growing even more prevalent, and it is crucial for advertisers' survival and success.

Where does that leave the DR industry in 2009 and beyond? I believe it leaves veteran DR companies in a very good place. DR media rates are typically much lower than traditional media, while DR media is much more accountable, and budgets are watched very closely. At the same time, direct response media companies will most often — and most creatively — go the extra mile to do their best to make a campaign work.

That normally doesn't include a nifty 30-second spot airing during the Super Bowl or the World Series — we should all be so lucky to have those budgets! Instead, aggressive DR media companies slug it out and monitor and evaluate results daily, ultimately sharing this information with clients on a regular basis.

Direct response marketing will continue to grow and make more noise as companies realize how important it is to know their campaigns' performance right now. All facets of the direct response industry should benefit in 2009 and beyond — telemarketing, fulfillment, merchant processing, production and media buying agencies. We should be proud of our participation in the growth of direct response and very bullish about the future, whether the economy is weak or strong. I urge you to put your blinders on, keep working hard, and, in turn, we will gain "just a little respect."

Doug Frankel is president of Broadcast Communications Media Inc. He can be reached at (310) 452-6585 or via E-mail at

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