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Direct Response Marketing

Socialized Marketing: Direct response marketers are discovering social media’s perfect pitch potential.

1 Feb, 2011 By: Krissi Bynum-Degen Response

Social media is putting the “wow” in direct response marketing for companies such as Allstar Products Group and pitchmen like Vince Offer. During the past few years, Allstar —marketers of the Snuggie and Topsy Turvy, among other successes — and Offer, the ShamWow pitchman, have effectively utilized Internet and mobile applications to positively attract consumer attention and increase sales and — like others in their field — are learning how to re-engineer some of the previous direct marketing techniques used by well-known names like Ron Popeil and Billy Mays.

In a testament to social media’s growing importance, three out of four marketers estimate their social and digital expenditures will increase in 2011, according to a recent Alterian survey examining brand engagement. Success for companies and individuals like Allstar and Offer is due in part to the unique environments that social Web sites offer and marketers’ understanding of how to correctly implement those resources and increase sales by turning a product into entertaining, social phenomena.

“We view social media as a longer-term branding strategy and less as a direct retail push; social media enhances the brand,” says Anne Flynn, vice president of marketing for Allstar Products Group. “I think the best thing we’ve done (in 2010) is to listen to our fans and to provide them with the content they want — whether that’s new product news or tips or offers. And (social media) initiatives such as the Snuggie Choice Film Awards have helped fuel engagement.”

Making ‘Friendly’ Conversation

The beauty of social media platforms is that by their nature, they alleviate the risk direct response marketers face in capturing and keeping consumers’ attention all the way from the initial pitch through to the final call-to-action. Most social-networking sites are already prevalent in the day-to-day lives of the majority of tech-savvy consumers. Therefore, the next step for observant marketers is to better utilize the consistent engagement social media offers and the personalization it affords marketers when determining how a product or pitch applies to individual customers.

Once these factors have been determined, marketers can establish profiles and online accounts to drive Web-based interaction between brand and consumer. Accounts can then be established and contacts made through friends, and through their friends, and their friends, and so on — all within their chosen Web-based or mobile forum. Think of social media platforms as the gap filler: the introduction, followed by the handshake, or the difference between being poked by a stranger or receiving a hug from an old friend.

Integrating the positive aspects of the current social medium to meet consumers in a context that is appealing and unobtrusive initializes trust and, in effect, turns the cold-call or the commercial break into a warm smile and removes the physical space invasion or time interruption often felt by the consumer.

Facebook, YouTube Help Sell and Build Brands

Trust in direct response marketing and social media is a silent challenge. It is silent because unlike previous methods of product introduction, trust is initially established without any noise, yelling or street-corner sign-wavers. It is a challenge because in order to be successful and create interest in the social media context, marketing companies must present an appealing, entertaining or comedic persona or story without appearing pushy or irrelevant. Failure to embody this present day social ideal results in the use of spam filters and detrimental remarks to family, friends and social networks.

Thankfully, there are multiple types of Internet- and mobile-based social platforms that offer unique tools and resources to assist direct response marketers and potential clients, based upon each group’s needs and interests. Web sites like Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube are preferred environments that not only promote positive relationships, but also present the prospect of positive word-of-mouth, immediately accessible and/or comedic marketing.

Facebook allows users to become “fans” of or “like” a product, business or group page. Once a user becomes a fan of something or someone, that information pops up on all their friends’ Facebook pages, instantly instilling curiosity, interest and desire, simply because it is viewed on a friend’s, or friend of a friend’s, Facebook page — a type of digital evolution to word-of-mouth marketing for DR marketers.

Flynn describes Allstar’s use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as an “integration of those services in different capacities across our brands to engage with fans and attract new ones.”

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