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Direct Response Marketing

As Seen on TV ... And Every Other Screen You Own

17 Sep, 2010 By: Nicole Urso Reed Response

How these DR marketers used multiple advertising channels to turn their products into household brands.

Socializing a Brand

Content-sharing platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, provide a variety of new opportunities to create an effective multi-channel marketing mix with an emphasis on brand building. In July 2010, John Pozadzides, CEO of Web analytics company Woopra, wrote a guest post on about the composition of Web referral traffic. According to Woopra, YouTube makes up 84 percent of total media referrals (e.g., videos, songs, etc.), while Facebook and Twitter, collectively, make up a whopping 93 percent of social network referral traffic — Facebook with 68 percent and Twitter with 25 percent. These distribution channels may easily be overlooked, but if used effectively they are a very powerful, low-cost method to build brands.

Cash4Gold, a service that pays cash for unwanted gold jewelry and other items, rooted its marketing in DRTV spot advertising to educate consumers about the value, convenience and safety of its product but quickly branched out with social media efforts.

“We started advertising direct to consumers pretty much immediately,” says Cash4Gold CEO Jeff Aronson. “Our commercials were an important way for us to introduce customers to a new service and industry that we pioneered and they didn’t even know existed before they began seeing Cash4Gold commercials.”

Once consumers warmed up to the idea and the business grew, Aronson orchestrated a successful multi-channel strategy to create a strong brand following. Much like the Snuggie, humor was an important part of the campaign.

“We are online, and on TV, and in print all across the country,” says Aronson. “We have national spots airing across a variety of channels. We also advertise overseas in a handful of European markets where we have expanded. Our celebrity endorser in the U.K. is a fascinating character named Goldie, who is a musician, artist, humanitarian, actor and about 10 other things simultaneously. He is a great guy and a memorable character and seemed the perfect fit for us considering his name and the fact that he has a mouth full of gold teeth.”

In the U.S., the Cash4Gold campaign reached its peak with a spot featuring the popular 1990s hip hop artist MC Hammer with the now late Ed McMahon (both known for leading lavish lifestyles, which eventually far exceeded their incomes) listing off gold items that they could exchange for cash. The campaign debuted during the 2009 Super Bowl and was so well received that Aronson was able to continue to run it.

“It’s not every day that you see a spot from a DR-driven company right there among some of the top brands in the entire world,” he says.

DR Product Placement

Traditionally, direct response and brand advertising have had polar opposite objectives. DR marketers focused on ROI and brand advertisers focused on name recognition. Then, with the advent of online advertising, brand advertisers began to explore the world of response metrics to track consumer engagement. The hybrid campaigns were dubbed “response branding.”

Today, with all of the social media tools and content sharing sites, DR marketers are beginning to enjoy some of the advantages of brand advertising without having to spend the exorbitant costs of primetime media buys.

Not everyone may be able to pull off a Super Bowl ad, but DR products are making their way out of late-night remnant space and right in front of consumers on TV, online, on mobile and every other place they would be looking on a regular basis.

BJ Fazeli, president of Irvine, Calif.-based BJ Global Direct, continues to push the boundaries of DR advertising to get his products in front of consumers.

He introduces products through a traditional DRTV spot or infomercial in order to test results and build engagement. From there, he branches out to online advertising. His e-commerce site,, also features the television commercials for a fully integrated experience. Next he plans to take on the third screen — mobile phones (see page 8).

In addition to a strong focus on customer service, brand building is an important aspect of his business. According to Fazeli, he plans to bring his Kymaro Body Shaper product to the big screen this fall but wouldn’t disclose the movie in which it would appear.

Social Media Metrics

While social media tools provide many new opportunities to engage with consumers and define a product’s brand, the fundamentals of DR remain the same. The goal of every ad is to drive engagement, elicit a consumer response and measure success.

YouTube recently launched a project called LeanBack. The purpose is to get users to watch content on YouTube like they would on TV. Boilen sees this as a major opportunity for DR marketers.

“YouTube has been a great platform for our industry in terms of fan engagement,” he says. “For example, more than 7,000 videos featuring Snuggie have been uploaded to YouTube. That said, we evaluate every opportunity and will be looking more closely at LeanBack.”

YouTube, much like Google, Yahoo!, and other search sites, is one of the primary referral sources for online traffic. For example, if a customer searches for a product and clicks though to a YouTube video to watch the infomercial, they should be able to click through to the primary product Web site to make a purchase or see the offer.

Another benefit of integrating social media into a multi-channel campaign is that consumers can interact with one another and create conversations around a product. The Topsy Turvy is now a household brand with widespread retail presence, but it also has an online community that shares their experiences about the product.

“In the beginning, we had a primary focus on direct response television with Topsy Turvy in order to educate the consumer on its revolutionary technology and ability to address legitimate concerns with traditional gardening,” Boilen says. “Due to the brand’s success and fan following, we also launched a social media campaign to further engage consumers and provide them with a forum to share their experiences, show pictures and communicate with other users.”

Keep Going Mobile

In addition to social media efforts and driving online referral traffic, marketers also see mobile advertising as another frontier in DR multi-channel strategies.

“We have tried a number of new media advertising methods. We have seen mixed results from those marketing methods, but we test and then we test again,” Aronson says. “We actually have a mobile marketing campaign that will be kicking off soon so we are interested to see how the results compare with some of our earlier efforts in that arena.”

For marketers interested in testing mobile advertising campaign integrations, third-party agencies such as Seattle-based Hipcricket is one way to explore potential opportunities.

Hipcricket recently partnered with Bell Trans, one of the largest transportation providers in Las Vegas, to create local offers through a mobile advertising campaign. The goal was to increase brand awareness for Bell Trans and to establish customer loyalty.

Las Vegas visitors will be able to schedule a ride by texting a short code, and the program will also feature “click-to-call” for more immediate reservations. As part of the campaign, customers will be presented with special offers from local businesses. Bell Trans will be able to view customer engagement and other response metrics using Hipcricket’s proprietary real-time analytics system and make updates to maximize customer engagement.

“The biggest trap that a DR marketer can fall into is resting on past success and not being willing to evolve,” Aronson says. “Stale creative content and a cookie-cutter approach to marketing are sure-fire ways to ensure that your brand and company will be yesterday’s news.”

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