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Direct Response Marketing

Empowering Consumers

11 Jul, 2010 By: Jackie Jones Response

Marketers find direct response campaigns shine brightest when spotlighting usergenerated content on social media sites.


“It’s one thing to verbally explain that, and it’s another thing to create videos to explain it — but the easiest way is to let somebody try it,” Smith Clemens says. “Getting the cameras in the hands of users and letting them experience the product is key to our campaign.”

To market its new camera, Olympus launched the “PEN Your Story” campaign, where the marketer’s main call-to-action was for consumers to submit a proposal on the company’s YouTube channel with ideas on how they would use the camera to create a viral project. Submissions can run the gamut from a video, slideshow, still-frame animation or any combination of multimedia, and can feature topics as lighthearted as breaking a skateboarding world record or as serious as documenting the cleanup of an oil spill, Smith Clemens contends.

Six top-rated individuals will then be given the digital camera, lenses and $5,000 to make their idea come to life. Once those six users post their video creations online, a grand prize winner will be chosen and flown to the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in New York, where their project will be displayed on a giant video screen.

Using user-generated material in marketing has been common for years now, but the recent advent and popularity of social networking and online accessibility have created a new way for companies to more directly incorporate consumer response in their campaigns, Smith Clemens says.

“It’s not a new idea certainly, but it’s a new way of approaching it now that we have a lot of social media opportunities and different ways we can connect with our fans and users beyond the printed page,” she says. This type of direct response mechanism has provided a medium for consumers to be heard in a way that benefits marketers, Smith Clemens believes. “The best advocates of your product are your users. (This marketing strategy) has enabled us to ask our community of users, ‘Do you want to try this? We want to let you, now let’s see what you can do and share your experience with your peers, so that it’s your voice telling the story,’” she adds.

Since submissions began May 3, users have uploaded nearly 483 entries to Olympus’ YouTube channel ( Those videos had been viewed nearly 72,000 times, and visits to the site itself had exceeded more than 202,000 at the beginning of June, according to Smith Clemens. Consumers had until June 6 to submit their proposals, and the final grand prize winner will be announced Aug. 13.

Goldstar Creates Own Network

Marketers’ success in utilizing consumers’ own creativity isn’t limited to video posts and social media sites. Starting in 2006, online ticket seller Goldstar launched a feature on its site enabling users to write and post unedited, real-time reviews of shows and entertainment events. Since then, Goldstar has expanded it into an online social community where regular customers can leave one another tips about details like venue parking or traffic routes, and leave kudos for reviews they believe are well-written or especially helpful.

Goldstar learned very quickly that as Internet accessibility continues to skyrocket, providing a public forum for consumers and their keyboards is a smart DR marketing move, says Goldstar CEO and co-founder Jim McCarthy, who adds that user-generated blogs and reviews on Goldstar’s site ( have been a great boost to event sales. “Once a customer reaches that page on our site where it’s time to buy or not for an event, the numbers of those buying have gone up considerably,” McCarthy says.

Providing a space for consumers to creatively write and express themselves about Goldstar’s services, all while affording them the chance to hear the voices of fellow Goldstar members, is a marketing goldmine, McCarthy says.

“It’s very heavily used by people who go to the shows and those who are looking to get more information about Goldstar in general,” McCarthy says. “The input of consumers is critical to everything people do these days.”

Goldstar, which maintains an active presence on Facebook and Twitter, says consumer-generated content has been great for its venue partners, Goldstar members and new customers.

“We’re always trying to make it easier and more fun for people to find things to do on Goldstar, and actively engaging our members online has helped that tremendously,” McCarthy says. “We’ve really been able to engage our members who want to have a deeper and more robust conversation with us.”

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