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Direct Response Marketing

Educational Sessions Provide Value to All-Access Badge Holders

17 May, 2012 By: Doug McPherson, Jackie Jones

SAN DIEGO – The first full day of Educational Sessions did not disappoint the more than 3,000 guests in attendance at Response Expo 2012 in San Diego.

The day’s sessions drew sizeable crowds, while audiences for Professor Cassie Mogilner’s Ivy League insights into customer engagement, talks by big-name brands like the American Cancer Society and Skechers, and a late-afternoon retail session all neared capacity. Other highlights of the day included educated, invaluable advice from venture capitalists on funding, and stories from key DR leaders on flying under the radar while selling millions of products. All drove home an emerging overall theme: Direct response is the future of all advertising moving forward.

“In my own background, jumping out of retail and traditional advertising and into the world of direct response was eye opening,” said Scott Barbour, founder of Cre8tive Partners, who hosted the Educational Session, “Breaking the Funding Code.” “It’s the way the entire advertising industry is going. It’s not about brand awareness alone anymore. It’s about developing a product and creative, and building an interactive relationship with customers directly. It’s about timing, luck and skill.”

Response Expo’s first day of Educational Sessions – which drew more than 400 attendees to across its five sessions – kicked off with “The DRMA Master’s Course – Customer Engagement,” which featured Mogilner from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business for an interactive discussion on consumer engagement, followed by investment advice from four leading venture capital firms on what they look for when investing in businesses in the direct response space.

Much of Mogilner’s research rested with the topics of happiness, time and money, and their interplay with consumers. Consumer happiness matters to DR professionals for seven key reasons, according to Mogilner: people talk to others about happy experiences; people talk even more about unhappy experiences; happy customers drive marketing, are repeat customers, loyal, will pay more; and happy employees are more productive, creative and loyal. One of the most important things a direct response marketer can do in advertising creative is include positive emotion and spotlight upbeat engagement with the product.

“When it comes to engaging consumers, they, of course, either spend time or money,” Mogilner said. “The lesson here is that consumers who spend more time learning about your product will likely end up enjoying it more in the end. So it’s OK and even vital to direct people to learn more about your product.”

While the benefits of DR include its low cost of entry, that doesn’t mean marketers won’t need start-up money, operational costs and funds to expand to stay in business, Barbour advised in the “Breaking the Funding Code” session.

“Even in successful businesses we’ve launched, at some point you need to look for outside capital from somewhere. Too many products have not found a home because of funding issues, and when the world of DR has so many opportunities waiting for success to be found and money to be made, that doesn’t need to happen,” Barbour said.

Everybody in the financial world talks a different language than inventors or creative people, and bridging that ‘language gap’ to match the right money with the right creative is a process, but it’s the key to success, according to panelists at the Educational Session. Investors like the measurablity of direct response as well, many added.

"We’re starting to venture heavily out into the DR world,” said Chris Montgomery of CSKK Consulting, a panelist on the session. “We listen to all ideas, and we’ll especially listen to ideas with strong growth potential.”

“You don’t know what’s going to pique the interest of an investor,” said Derek Walton of iCFO Capital. “There’s really a lot of interest out there and we’re here to bridge the gap between what is perceived of investors’ wants and the ideas of different inventors and marketers.”

Key leaders in the DRTV marketplace – the marketers behind hit products such as Strap Perfect, Urine Gone, Mighty Putty, Mighty Mendit, EdenPure, Grout Bully and Truly Clear – shared stories of the common winning DRTV threads that can be implemented by marketers looking for the same success. Some of the day’s biggest draws for Response Expo attendees were “Selling the Greater Good,” an Educational Session featuring big names in the traditional marketing world, and “Navigating the Retail Maze.”

The American Cancer Society, which has recently partnered with big names like the NFL, Neutrogena, Jet Blue, H+M, Subway and others in its cause marketing efforts, has made cause marketing a bigger focus in the past few years in particular, according to panelist Kristen Grant of the American Cancer Society. Eighty percent of consumers consider a company’s commitment to social issues when considering what to buy or where to shop, and 73 percent of consumers say they would switch brands if a different one supported a good cause, Grant said.

“These are very compelling stats that show cause marketing is a win-win-win for everyone involved: the marketer, the cause and the consumer,” Grant said. “At the American Cancer Society, we’re not only increasing revenue with these partnerships but we’re also able to expand our mission and have a broader reach and deepen our relationships with existing constituents and develop new ones as well. Cause marketing is proven to drive sales and increase revenue, build brand preference and loyalty, and stand out from competitors. It’s also been shown to attract and retain better employees and engage them more fully in company activities, a plus for any company in any industry.”

Chris Lewis of the American Wheelchair Mission said direct response is key to cause marketing as an efficient advertising strategy as well.

“We’ve found that short-form makes people pick up the phone and order a wheelchair, while long-form builds ties and helps explain our cause in the best way possible,” Lewis said.

Session attendees were impressed with caliber of speakers and content.

“Learning the details of happiness was very interesting,” Duncan Robinson, president of Trans DR, said of Mogilner’s session. “I think that could be helpful when you consider the audience demographics, and time vs. money is interesting. I don’t necessarily agree that people are more willing to give time over money. I think time these days is much more important to consumers.”

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