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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


“For example, we’ve built successful Facebook communities for our Snuggie, Bendaroos and Topsy Turvy brands to engage consumers as well as to manage customer service and satisfaction,” Flynn says. “We have also grown the Snuggie Facebook community from 70,000 to more than 240,000 fans this year,” she says.

Facebook and Twitter give brands a forum for building positive relationships with consumers while they participate in social gaming and stay up-to-date on individually relevant news and information. The driving force that brings people to sites like Facebook is video or media platforms such as YouTube, which offer quick, entertaining commentary that can be accessed from almost anywhere and does not require the consumer to be at home sitting in front of their DVR — or even in front of their PC.

Flynn singles out YouTube as “a very successful platform for the Snuggie brand,” citing the staggering number of views on the company’s official YouTube channel. “YouTube has been a very successful platform for our Snuggie brand,” she says. “Snuggie advertisements are extremely viral, with this year’s ‘Macarena’ and holiday ad campaigns garnering more than half a million views on our official YouTube channel.”

The numbers seen by marketers such as Allstar speak for themselves. As mobile environments like Foursquare and its location-based services also grow in user size and reliability, companies will continue to see the increased efficiency and instant-satisfaction mentality of digital platforms. Businesses that take part in digital, location-based application services can display coupons or promos to passers-by, who when faced with a choice between two businesses, will be more likely to choose the one with the best available deals. Social Internet resources have become invaluable tools for successful direct response marketers.

Social Again Changes the Game

Those savvy in direct response marketing continue to reshape their industry as they gain a better understanding of the value and possibilities social media have to offer.

Platforms such as Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and YouTube give marketers the advantages of both all-encompassing, rapid-fire information as well as entertainment and instantaneous contact in the form of mobile device Internet applications. The controversy or confusion that advertisers and businesses come across when dealing with social media contexts most likely stem from the constantly evolving Internet and media environment we find ourselves in today. Every new technological advancement represents new opportunity for DR marketers.

Ron Popeil, the voice behind the industry’s best-known catchphrase “But wait, there’s more,” Billy Mays and their counterparts all shared similar dilemmas in promoting products with the available marketing tools of their time: television, radio and print. Now, those contexts that worked for them exist in the mainstream, but are drastically changing in the way they present content.

This creates a challenge for advertisers and businesses that are already struggling with rapidly changing content and consumer interests. For individuals like Offer and companies like Allstar though, these factors created a positive challenge. Social media was not a dilemma to be concerned with, but rather a highly beneficial resource to turn sales pitches into positive relationships with consumers and useful, or strange-looking items, into entertaining or even comedic tools. This mindset helped changed a need-based or practical forum into a fun environment. Now consumers are interested in the products that marketers like Allstar and Offer promoted because of the positive, humorous characteristics that they were reminded of when first introduced to that product.

Let Your Antagonist Do the Work

Attitude goes a long way for success in the social media realm, and having both a “thick skin” and a positive attitude paid off for Offer, whose YouTube ventures brought him into the mainstream. It also acted as an irritant to Mays, who was selling a product similar to the ShamWow. Mays challenged Offer to a “pitch-off” and — rather than backing down or rejecting the challenge — Offer accepted.

Consumer Reports tested both products and picked Offer’s ShamWow as the winner. Offer’s quirky-yet-comedic personality lends itself to his product pitches and serves as a reminder that, although the context of social media may change, the value of laughter and a positive attitude when it comes to promoting a product is invaluable. And in the end, no one lost — both brands were given great exposure and engagement with consumers.

Allstar has been no stranger to viral marketing themselves, as the Snuggie began to receive attention from television show hosts and those in late-night comedy after its product launch. “Saturday Night Live,” Jay Leno and Ellen Degeneres were just a few to take turns poking fun at product. The product marketers rolled with the punches, though, and were rewarded with an excellent advertising context for the Snuggie. Thousands online have since parodied Snuggie ads, a phenomena Allstar has welcomed and expected to see again this past holiday season with the December 2010 release of new holiday-themed TV spots (Response, December 2010).

“We expected the ads to get significant attention online based on what we’ve seen in the past — Snuggie ads are extremely viral,” Flynn told Response in December. “The additional component of online/viral was integral to the success of the campaign last year. We still receive millions of impressions online and this is in addition to a multimillion dollar retail ad support campaign.”

By embracing the humor behind a brand’s message — communicated most effectively to consumers through channels such as YouTube — products that may have been previously ignored or seemingly forced onto consumers via pop-up and banner ads became comedic and interesting simply because their context changes from someone simply explaining why the product is useful to a reminder of laughter, comedy or their favorite comedian when viewing the products again. The desire to see and interact with these products in person becomes intriguing to consumers and becomes an accessible reality thanks to As Seen On TV stores and products sold in retail such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Wal-Mart and novelty shops.

Moving Forward

Social media is an invaluable tool in successful product sales because they have — at their core — effective contexts used in direct response marketing: quick commentary, rapid response, and immediate networking and content sharing with a massive group of people, in a positive, entertaining or informative environment. Products such as ShamWow, Snuggie and Shake Weight are successful because their direct response marketers used present-day social media (and promoters who knew how to be both serious and entertaining) to coordinate different social media environments and apply that knowledge to gain and retain consumer attention — and in doing so, developed a present day model.

Socially active Web sites like Facebook and YouTube give direct response marketers the opportunity to promote their products amid positive relationships and thus bridge the acquaintance-stranger gap. Those successful in the social realm have paid close attention to the ever-changing social environment and established themselves quietly, while positively introducing their products.

This method exemplifies direct response at its best: looking ahead far enough to predict what products or services consumers will want and how those should be presented, without losing sight of their intended audiences’ needs and situational context. Social media platforms today offer — perhaps for the first time in DR history — the opportunity to positively and actively engage individuals in real time, simply by being present in their friends and/or acquaintances social network.

Once this realization is fully grasped and properly implemented, either for marketers or in the eyes of consumers, the name that comes before the “wow” won’t matter, because all that will float through the individuals’ minds is, “Wow! I need one of those.” ■

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