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Direct Response Marketing

Global Perspective: Reaping Rewards Abroad

1 Sep, 2011 By: John Parkin Response

Having recently returned from an international direct response event in Sweden — by the way, it’s almost as expensive as Monaco, without the glitz and glamour — I was a little surprised by:

  1. The lack of old faces
  2. The influx of new faces

I presume due to the present economic global climate that the costs of international travel, accommodations and convention registrations are quite prohibitive to realize cost effective “wish-and-pray” new business. At least, it certainly seemed so for the old faces.

The new faces on the other hand, seemed to have travelled from much less afield, perhaps in the hope that they may get to jump on the gravy train/bandwagon of direct response. Little do they know — the ship has left the dock. That moment has gone.

But all is not lost.

This game that became a business and then an industry has, during the past 25 years, gone through several transitional modus operandi. While there are too many to cover in this brief note, for what it’s worth, I do have a few pointers to the uninitiated.

When the going got tough in the United States, due to ever-increasing media costs/consumer familiarity and more, the smart ones followed the American Pioneers’ tradition — “Go West!” — but in reverse. Historically, Americans traveled from the East Coast to the West, many dropping off on the way to settle and prosper.

When disposable incomes were maxed out in America, the biggest DR market in the world, and became more limited for impulse sales via E-tail, the smart marketers began looked elsewhere. Yes, now is the time to pioneer again, but in reverse — Go East!

All products have a perceived price value and price ceiling. But what sells for a buck in the U.S., sells for a pound or Euro elsewhere, and with exchange rates, well, you do the math!

Before pioneering east, remember that outside of the United States, it isn’t the Wild West, where media rates are governed by the standard economic forces of supply and demand — fluctuating and variable. So the average sale or cost-per-order (CPO) formulas don’t apply.

Digital/satellite technology has meant broadcasting rates for channel owners can be a little as $60 per hour. With preferred infomercial formats in this market running at 15 minutes, four infomercials per hour run at $15 per airing.

Single countries may or may not produce large volumes, just like cable or broadcast channels may not in the U.S., but a consolidation of territories like a consolidation of channels in the U.S. can deliver. It is and always will be a numbers game.

Don’t forget to be careful about who is doing the math. Exchange rates are fluid and, as in my particular territory of business at present, the import duties are variable on a monthly basis.

The days of “one-size-fits-all” are over. There is a huge opportunity to reap rewards abroad, but it requires serious analysis regarding cultural and demographical differences to ensure sales are maximized.

If you do your homework then you can still get the grade you were after. Good luck. ■

John Parkin is famous for the red bowtie and suspenders he wore when began hosting infomercials in 1989 for the automotive wax product, Auri. He can be reached via E-mail at

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