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Field Reports

10 Jul, 2010 By: Thomas Haire, Jacqueline Renfrow Response

Aronson Set to Launch DevTel Products
By Thomas Haire (

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — Capitalizing on the success of Cash4Gold and expanding his Green Bullion business model, CEO Jeff Aronson is launching DevTel Products, a business focused on bringing new consumer products to market utilizing direct response marketing.

“We came out of the blocks quickly with Cash4Gold, creating one of the most successful DR campaigns in recent years,” Aronson tells Response in an exclusive interview. “At this point, taking what we’ve learned and the back-end customer management systems we’ve come across with that success, expanding into the product forum is our clear next step. DevTel’s goal will be to make people’s lives easier one product at a time.”

Aronson says DevTel’s first product hit DRTV air at the end of May. He adds, “We roll out another five or six products in next few months, and fully expect to release up to 30 products in 2011.”

While DR is going to be the lifeblood of DevTel’s activities, Aronson says the company expects to experiment with a variety of new advertising models and media. But, product is still the key. “We sort through the product ideas under consideration and narrow down our focus through our internal committees,” he says. “We have a relentless commitment to provide high-quality products — problem/solution-based products — to make life easier for consumers.”

Aronson projects DevTel’s business at “about $400-600 million within three years, and more than $1 billion by year five,” and says the company will introduce products in a variety of vertical markets, including health-and-beauty and housewares. If his projections come true, this will be the third $100 million-plus company Aronson has created before age 40, including Albar Metals and Cash4Gold.

While launching DevTel, Aronson also says he’s working on a few products in the financial services space, “things that we can build on a similar platform to Cash4Gold.” At the same time, Cash4Gold is maintaining steady growth after its huge early run, and has now grown into a six-country market.

“We’ve had tremendous success overseas, as we’ve entered the market in Canada, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and Spain,” Aronson contends. “The U.K., specifically, has been a fantastic model and market. And, while some of the non-English speaking markets have been tougher culturally, we’ve learned how to create a more hands-on effort to get the business up and running.”


Hydra Progresses InStyler’s DRTV Campaign Into an Online Explosion
By Jacqueline Renfrow

When Zac Brandenberg launched Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Hydra in 2003, his vision was to create synergistic online marketing operations and to drive the growth of E-commerce, lead generation and performance-based customer acquisition. Quickly becoming the hub of its operations, the company turned its focus to its ad network and its distribution of online campaigns for clients. Using its online DR channels, and a results-based pricing model, Hydra has helped clients focus on acquisition and see the importance in differentiating a DRTV campaign from an online one.

“For the most part, a company’s primary orientation is to build an online ‘shopping cart’ to take orders from traffic driven by the DRTV campaign,” says Mason Wiley, senior vice president of marketing at Hydra. “Hydra’s network, on the other hand, offers a distribution platform that is capable of driving incremental business by broadcasting the marketer’s campaign to an online audience of hundreds of millions across all online channels — E-mail, search, display and social media.”

In December 2008, Hydra was called upon to do just that for InStyler — a rotating, hot iron hair straightener and curler — and its marketing provider Tre Milano LLC, a division of Modern Media. At the time, all of InStyler’s sales were driven by their DRTV campaign and Hydra was hired to increase business through ads across online channels. Recently, Wiley chatted with Response about the campaign.

Q: What was your overall marketing strategy for InStyler, and how did you work to combine branding and DR?

A: With InStyler, we created online ads and a landing page that had a look and feel that were consistent with the DRTV campaign. So, we do employ branding as a means to provide consistency and synergy between messages. We also work to establish a brand image that supports the product promise and inspires trust and credibility. At the same time, we unleash all of the DR “tricks” we have up our sleeve to drive response. We don’t see any conflict between the two — good branding enhances DR results.

Q: How important has online marketing become in the overall marketing strategy for InStyler and other brands?

A: Hydra is only using the Internet to drive sales for InStyler. DRTV commands the greatest share of the media budget and sales, but online is increasing in importance and size. Historically, the use of online by DRTV has been limited to capturing branded search and type-in traffic driven by DRTV ads. We have been helping DRTV advertisers employ outbound online advertising to drive a new and incremental source of sales volume. Typically, we’ll start them with a test to demonstrate effectiveness, and then budget and sales results scale up from there.

Q: What adjustments did you have to make to the InStyler campaign after its initial launch?

A: The campaign was initially launched using InStyler’s existing landing page — one designed for taking orders from DRTV-driven traffic rather than a specifically optimized one for online. By January 2009, this was driving only about 10 sales per day. So with permission from the client, we optimized the campaign based on Hydra experience and changes were made including removing all navigation, creating new copy to explain the product’s benefits (plus adding press quotes to enhance credibility), optimizing the response form, and streamlining the order and upsell process. We launched the optimized campaign in March 2009, and unit sales immediately jumped from an average of 10 per day to 100 per day. Achieving higher conversion rates made the campaign more competitive in the affiliate marketplace, and Hydra was able to secure higher distribution among its affiliate publishers. Starting in May 2009, sales increased to an average of 200-300 a day. During the past year, InStyler gained more than 40,000 new customers, each purchasing two InStyler units.

Q: What does the future hold for Hydra?

A: To maximize online success, it has become clear that we have to have our hands on all the levers. For example, high distribution itself doesn’t work if the campaign creative is not effective. This recognition is resulting in our evolution to a full-service, online marketing company. We are continuously improving our capabilities to deliver high volumes of high-quality customers for our advertisers.

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