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Direct Response Marketing

Editor's Note: Love Is in the Air ... Don’t Forget to Spend Some Cash to Express It!

29 Jan, 2010 By: Thomas Haire Response

"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you." — A.A. Milne, “Winnie the Pooh”

Thomas HaireAh, February ... the month of love. Sweet thoughts and quotes, like the one from Milne above, tend to flow freely during this frigid time of year — at least they do according to the good folks over at Hallmark, American Greetings, 1-800-Flowers and other companies that are able to capitalize on the greatest of all “Hallmark holidays,” Valentine’s Day.

Now, I don’t want to be too cynical — after all, I do have a hopeless romantic streak hiding out beneath this skeptical exterior — but watching the front-of-store promotional section of my local Target switch from Christmas to Valentine’s Day in a late-December blink of an eye doesn’t exactly fill one’s heart with joy. However, it apparently does a good job of filling marketers’ pockets every single year.

Certainly, all marketers want to capitalize on every sales opportunity. Seasonal marketing has been used in nearly every market for decades. Heck, when I was in college, I worked in the “seasonal” department of a large sporting goods store. In summer, we sold surfboards and camping equipment; in winter, it was skis and snowboards. We didn’t miss a beat, and sales for our department were always strong.

This month, while the jewelry, sweets and flowers-and-gifts industries are making their biggest pushes of the year, the direct response business is also in the midst of key seasons across a number of verticals — and not only for long-time DR advertisers like the Vermont Teddy Bear Co., and its sister brand, Pajamagram. With New Year’s resolutions still fresh in many minds, the fitness space always counts the first few months of any year as its strongest time to make a push. Likewise, the beauty, healthcare, nutraceuticals and other markets are also attempting to make hay.

Once spring comes — and for those of you in cold-weather climates, I guarantee it will come, no matter how long and dark winter feels this time of year — a different season’s worth of products will fill the DR airwaves. Grills, outdoor products and automotive aftermarket gear all shine when the sun finally comes out — and the fitness space keeps on keeping on, trying to help consumers get their bodies ripe and ready for a summer on the beach.

So while the rapid-fire switch from holiday promotions to Valentine’s Day promotions in many retail outlets hits my senses as a simple consumer as a bit greedy, it hits my senses as a journalist in the marketing world as the right thing to do. Especially in the current economy, marketers simply have no time — or money — to waste, and must try to maximize every sales opportunity.

Leave no doubt, though, that once Feb. 14 rolls around, I will have all the right gifts in hand — just as Hallmark hoped those many years ago when it began capitalizing on the spirit and season of Valentine’s Day. Now, that’s marketing!

Thomas Haire, Editor-in-Chief

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