DR to Branders: Want the Secret? Get in Line1 Apr, 2009 By: Thomas Haire Response
A month ago in this space, I wrote about the widespread belief in direct response marketing that is almost always evident in the housewares vertical. Today, as I take a quick break from the show floor at Chicago's McCormick Place, I can gladly report two things: the housewares business is alive and well, and the direct response players in the housewares business are hotter than ever.
There was one clear difference, however, at the 2009 International Home + Housewares Show. DR industry vendors — the agencies, media buyers and back-end service providers who make the business go — are often the hunters seeking big game exhibitors like All-Clad, KitchenAid, Panasonic and Oster. While there was certainly plenty of that brand of hunting going on, the more interesting vibe coming from the show floor had to do with the growing influence and power of traditional DR marketers.
All one needed to do was visit the booths of such long-time industry stalwarts asTELEBrands in the Lakeside hall, or OnTel or Emson in the South hall or Allstar Marketing in the North hall (among many others) to see the growing scope and power of their businesses. And the discernible buzz and bustle at each one of these locations speaks to the increasing influence of traditional direct response on all marketers.
When I first visited the Housewares Show in 2002, stopping by to see the then-smaller booths of those who used direct response television as their main marketing method was easy. Today, all of these marketers seem to have booths rivaling the size of the behemoths one expects from major international housewares marketers. And getting five minutes with a leader? Forget about it.
Yes, the traditional DR vendor was among those buzzing around these booths. However, the vast majority of visitors appeared to be retailers looking to make deals to get these companies' winning products on their shelves, as well as entrepreneurs and representatives of other major housewares marketers looking for the secret to such success.
Yes, times have changed. The economic downturn of the past 18 months has made all marketers take a second look at how to maximize return on investment. In turn, this has made the steady flow of once-traditional marketers looking into and spending dollars in different DR media become a rushing whitewater river.
What I saw in Chicago seems to announce the final breakdown and acceptance by traditional marketers that DR marketers have something to teach them — something they had better learn quickly or be left far behind.
When representatives of big-box retailers and major housewares marketers are lingering on the outer edges of a crowded tradeshow booth, hoping for five minutes with the marketer of PediPaws or the Snuggie, not only has direct response marketing gained acceptance, but it has turned the tables on those that once looked down their noses at it. Those once-so-brilliant brand marketers who had no time for DR now have one chance to save themselves in the new marketing universe: line up to learn the secrets of direct response from its leading experts or face obsolescence.
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