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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports

1 Mar, 2011 By: Thomas Haire Response

DRTV industry news and information.

Marketer of the year.

Thane’s Top Products Hit Major Milestones

By Thomas Haire (

In its October 2010 issue, Response announced and spotlighted the three finalists and winner of the Second Annual Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award. In the November 2010 issue, we began spotlighting the other seven top nominees in a monthly section. This month, we caught up with Amir Tukulj, Toronto-based chairman and CEO of Thane Direct Inc.

In the past year, Thane Direct’s biggest sellers include the H20 Mop Ultra (more than 2.8 million units sold), the Flavorwave Turbo oven (more than 2.1 million units sold) and the AB-Doer Twist (more than 1 million units sold). In 2010, the company built upon legacy DR brands such as the AB-Doer, Orbitrek, the H2O Mop and Flavorwave with the introduction of enhanced versions to keep each global brand fresh, while at the same time introducing all-new DR product lines such as Derma Seta, 3 Minute Legs and Slim ’N Lift. Additionally, Thane Direct opened new international sales and marketing, product development and media management operations in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.

Q: What does it mean to you and your company to be one of the top 10 nominees for the DRMA Marketer of the Year Award?

H2O MopThe H20 Mop Ultra was Thane Direct’s biggest seller in 2010, with more than 2.8 million units sold.

A: We are honored to be recognized again this year. This reaffirms our position as one of the leading DRTV companies in the world.

Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?

A: Our most significant accomplishments were continuing to expand exponentially despite a tough economic environment internationally. Additionally, we are proud of passing large sales milestones for a couple of our banner products: 1 million Flavorwaves sold and 3 million H20 Mops sold. These sales figures are more impressive considering both sell for more than $100.

Q: How did the successful products you had over the past year fit within the overall concept behind your company? Were any of those products so successful that they changed the way you do business? If so, how?

A: The products we had success with this year generally fit within our historical track record. We have continued to do what we do best with the same kinds of products that have generated success for us in the past. We are encouraged in our pursuit of extending the life of our product lines by continually innovating and improving them.

Q: Why do you think your business responded well during the recent economic downturn?

A: Through international diversification and consolidation of existing marketing avenues, we have not only managed to hold onto our strong position but have in fact had our best year ever.

Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months? What are the top items in your pipeline?

A: We signed Mr. T for two new products, including a sequel to the highly successful Flavorwave Turbo. Additionally, we have several new fitness machines and beauty products that are quite revolutionary in concept and execution.

Q: What vertical markets do you believe are best equipped to survive current economic issues — and even thrive — in 2011? Why?

A: We are intensifying our focus on retail distribution in the United States and internationally, and are also opening retail stores in several nations. This is part of our strategy of establishing a brick-and-mortar presence to increase our visibility and generate familiarity with our brand and increase the level of trust with our customers.

Q: Does today’s consumer respond better to short-form or long-form DRTV? Which of these two formats are best supported by other media, including online, mobile, print and radio?

A: We have had much success with the long-form format. As one of the leading direct response programmers in the world, we have access to more than 500,000 half-hour commercial slots. In addition, we own and operate many international satellite and cable channels that make half-hour broadcasts more affordable for us than short-form. The half-hour format is uniquely supported by our online presence — with a team of international Web designers who translate and conform our sites into more than a dozen languages — uniquely tailored to regional markets.

DRMA Marketer of the Year Spotlight

Dan Donati Roxanne Aguilar

Donati Joins Response Team; Aguilar Takes DRMA Post

By Thomas Haire (

SANTA ANA, Calif. — The Response team welcomes Dan Donati as director of new business development, while Roxana Aguilar moves into the role of Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) member relations coordinator. Donati joined the Response team on Feb. 14, fresh off a top sales position with one of the hardware industry’s top tradeshow events. Aguilar has been a key part of the Response team since March 2010.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Dan to our team,” says John Yarrington, publisher. “With his history in sales, his knowledge of our internal corporate workings, and his winning attitude, he will be the perfect addition. Meanwhile, Roxy has proven herself invaluable to our team during the past year and her move into DRMA member service should be a perfect fit for her skill set.”

Donati earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from California State University San Bernardino in 1991. He has two decades of experience in event and conference sales and marketing.

“As a friend of John Yarrington and Tom Haire for many years, I am excited to finally be on the team,” Donati says. “I’ve been enamored with the direct response marketing industry and the people in it since my first Response Expo in 2007 and can’t wait to get started.”

Aguilar holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from Westwood College, graduating with honors in 2010, and was an Alpha Beta Kappa honoree. While in school she founded and served as president of the Westwood Student Business Association (WSBA).

“I was honored to learn that I had been given the opportunity to help the DRMA grow and am eager to make a positive contribution to the great success of the DR industry,” Aguilar says.


Klaus, Extole Look to Create ROI Around Social Media

By Thomas Haire (

Brad Klaus, CEO of San Francisco-based Extole, held executive positions at Qualys Inc., DemandTec, Siebel Systems and Raima Corp. before founding Syndero in 2004. After leaving the company and looking at investment and entrepreneurial opportunities, Klaus founded Extole in 2009. Recently, Response caught up with Klaus to discuss the growth of Extole — and its future.

Q: Can you talk about your professional background and how you came to Extole?

A: Until 2004, I was in software and software sales, in both the on-premise and software-as-a-service (SAAS) world. I was among the first salespeople at Siebel, which eventually grew to 8,000 people, and was the de facto leader in customer relationship management (CRM). I believed then that SAAS was going to be the wave of the future, so I joined DemandTec, which was in the retail pricing solution space. I was there from when it got off the ground to the company becoming publicly traded. I then ran sales for Qualys, and the SAAS model really emerged in that position. In 2004, I started Syndero, which develops premium brands marketed directly to consumers online, on TV and at retail. We really focused on leveraging online channels, and had success with a number of health-and-beauty brands. The key was the technology and processes around where to serve our ads to high-value customer traffic, online and in real time. After leaving Syndero, I returned to my entrepreneurial roots and became an investor, working with Triton Capital. Still, I was focused on the next big opportunity: SAAS in online marketing, trying to improve ROI for customers spending media dollars online. It’s about customer engagement rather than acquisition. Extole’s SAAS asks customers to refer brands through social networking, ask for them to friend, fan or follow the brand. We signed nearly 100 customers by leveraging SAAS.

Q: Tell us about the history of Extole?

A: It’s been 18 months, and it’s mostly unfolded the way we expected. We are engaging customers to take action and turning your customers into marketers. The types of solutions we were looking to develop, we are on track with what we expected. The proliferation of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — the amount of scale in past 18 months has been incredible. Our ability to set up campaigns and leverage networks has increased substantially in the past 18 months.

Q: What does Extole do for direct response marketers that sets it apart from other companies in this space?

A: One of the areas we differ from many companies is understanding that every brand has a social graph — just like Facebook has one. By engaging customer bases to refer friends or to like and follow brands and share events in viral fashion, we’re capturing interesting data around brand/social graphs. Your customers are your biggest advocates, so knowing how many friends or fans you have, you can focus your Tier-1 marketing efforts on them. We leverage the analytics on the social graph.

Q: Can you share with us a short list of some key clients?

A: They’re all top clients. Our clients range from DR-oriented, single-product leaders like Gamefly, to companies that are more E-commerce-based — VistaPrint — to companies that operate both off- and online like Roku, to more traditional offline marketers.

Q: What are two of the hottest topics facing marketers in the DR space?

A: One is certainly social, with the nature of DR being metric-driven. How social works is a question that has made a lot of people scratch their heads. There are not a lot of solutions out there driving to real metrics. How can we drive social marketing into clear ROI? I like to think that Extole, with my background in DR, can provide that. Second, how do you understand what’s being said about your brand and engage customers that say positive things? There’s no question people are talking about you through social networks, so how can you influence the discussion? Our goal is to drive thousands of positive word-of-mouth social mentions on behalf of brands.

Q: What are your plans for the future with the company?

A: Our core mission is to create a social marketing platform that drives ROI. It’s our job to continually find new solutions to drive to that mission. We’d like to enter new markets, other verticals and are considering international expansion. It’s interesting that we think of DR marketing as strictly business-to-consumer. However, we know and believe in DR’s capabilities on a business-to-business basis and see a number of companies operating in similar fashion.

About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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