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Guest Opinion: Getting Maximum Impact from DRTV, Part III

1 Sep, 2011 By: Doug Garnett Response

The final installment of a three-part series entitled “Six Degrees of DRTV.”

It’s no secret that the successful execution of a DRTV campaign can be difficult. Sometimes it’s temping to just find a good formula that works and stick with it. But the truth is when we stay within our comfort zone, we leave tremendous profit potential untapped. In DRTV, that means the full impact from your campaign can only be realized when you expand your focus beyond immediate direct sales and formulaic production styles.

Expand where? By focusing on the fifth and sixth of Atomic Direct’s “Six Degrees” — intangibles like the quality of your brand execution or the subtle sophistication of communicating with both heart and mind.

These campaign and creative qualities don’t fit neatly on a balance sheet. But they are the critical for building long-term success.

Ignoring Intangibles Can Lead to Failure

Consider the George Foreman Grill. It was a tremendous success, right? Not in the big picture. Mistakes with intangibles led Salton-Maxim (the marketer of the Foreman Grill) into a position where it sold its company at pennies on the dollar despite Foreman’s massive sales success.

Other direct sales successes that turned to failure from poor execution of intangibles are Sharper Image and RotoZip. What’s saddest is that all three of these companies could have thrived — if their infomercials had delivered more long-term value.

The Fifth Degree: Communicating Heart and Mind

Strong sales come from appeals to both heart and mind. Despite this, “emotion, emotion, emotion!” is a popular marketing mantra — one that comes from a limited view of humanity.

But ignore the mind and your impact will be quickly overcome by the viewer’s genuine emotions. Offer “rationale” as well as emotion and the mind builds strong connections to your product that turn into sales.

Equally wrong are those who deliver little more than passionless logic and ruthless intellectualism. Without emotional connection, hard hitting “rationale” will never find a home in the mind because it takes emotional connections to make rationale meaningful.

The Sixth Degree: Brand

The brand crime DRTV practitioners commit most often comes through absurd uses of exaggeration. Exaggeration can be found nearly everywhere — even in higher production value shows like the Fein MultiMaster.

Consider: The MultiMaster is a superb finish carpentry tool from a highly respected German manufacturer. But in the show, we’re told the MultiMaster is “like a home remodeling system in a box.” The problem is that tool guys know it’s not — and who else is spending $350 on this tool? So this single line (repeated throughout the show) takes this high-quality brand and drops it to the level of a Popeil Pocket Fisherman.

Why don’t DRTV practitioners know better? Brand crimes rarely hurt short-term sales, and it’s a rare producer who knows how to look at the long term. This also means that most DRTV campaigns are leaving tremendous future profit untapped.

Strong brands deliver strong future sales and lower future marketing costs. Unfortunately, it takes a far-sighted management team to achieve this — foresight that seems to be missing among the general DRTV business.

Get More From DRTV

During the past nine months I’ve explored the “Six Degrees” in these pages because, while DRTV has had a tremendous past, our successful future requires delivering higher impact.

How do your campaigns stack up? Where among these “Six Degrees” do you have the biggest opportunity to deliver higher impact?

It will vary for each company, each agency and each client. But what my nearly 20 years of experience makes clear is that when you take the time to figure this out, you’ll find higher profits and build stronger companies. ■

Doug Garnett is founder and CEO of Atomic Direct, a Portland, Ore.-based advertising agency specializing in brands, consumer strategy, infomercials and driving retail with television. He can be reached via email at or on Twitter at @DRTVGuru. For more information, visit

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