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Direct Response Marketing

Editor’s Note: A Decade Later, Many Changes but Some Things Remain the Same

1 Mar, 2011 By: Thomas Haire Response


When I joined Response 10 years ago this month, one of the things I immediately found out from my co-workers, our readers and our advertisers was, “DRTV and retail don’t mix.” What a difference a decade makes!

Today, you can’t enter a Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens or Bed Bath & Beyond (to name just a few retailers) without seeing shelves full of As Seen on TV products. At the same time, many of the top products and brands that have graced these retailers’ shelves for decades have included direct response marketing as part of their drive to retail in recent years.

One vertical market that has remained a DR stalwart in the past decade also helped shape this DR-retail convergence more than any other — housewares. As many industry insiders visit this month’s International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, I noted that in the past decade, no fewer than 11 Response covers have featured major players in the market, including KitchenAid, the George Foreman Grill, Sunbeam, Ronco, DuPont Teflon and, this month, Euro-Pro.

But while the housewares business has remained a key for DR market insiders, the thaw between retail and DR is perhaps the most important change this business has seen in the past 10 years. The expansion of what a traditional direct response product can accomplish thanks to a retail presence (not to mention an online retail presence) has pushed traditional marketers — who once turned up their noses at the idea of DRTV — ever deeper into the space.

In my first Editor’s Note for the magazine, I wrote, “As a writer and editor, encountering a new industry can be difficult. Often, you find yourself covering an industry that might not be the most interesting. Or you deal with companies that aren’t exactly media savvy. But, to say that my first month on the job covering the DRTV industry was nothing like that would be a gross understatement.”

Ten years on, I’m glad to say that those words still ring true. Every day covering the direct response market is a new day. There’s always something new, exciting or different on the horizon.

So, just as I consider the change in the DR-retail relationship the most important story of my first 10 years in this industry, I am just as interested in finding what the key story of this next decade will be. Will it be the effects of mobile and social marketing on the space? Will it be a new world of on-screen (but not necessarily TV) direct response? I’m not certain, but I am certain that it sure will be an interesting ride.

I’ll close with a few more words from that first piece that still ring true about how I run the editorial part of this publication: “I’ve heard Response called the ‘Industry Bible’ by more than one of you in the last month. I plan not only on keeping it that way, but on improving its stature. I am here to serve our readership. For me to do the best job, I need to hear from you. “Response” and “interactive” are terms you’ve grown accustomed to in this business. As an editor creating a trade magazine that directly serves your needs, those two terms will always be the most important in my professional vocabulary.”


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