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Direct Response Marketing

Guest Opinion: Getting Maximum Impact from DRTV

1 Jan, 2011 By: Doug Garnett Response


The DRTV industry has come a long way during the past 25 years. Yet the one-dimensional nature of too many campaigns leaves DRTV’s richest potential untapped — by both traditional and brand marketers. Looking forward, our industry must move from its simplistic starting points to a more complex maturity.

In fact, I’ve spent my DRTV career developing ways to delve deeper and build more power. This has led to a vision my agency calls the Six Degrees of DRTV™ — six elements that describe the total potential of a DRTV campaign.

In this series of three articles in the coming months, I will look at how the Six Degrees lead to campaigns that increase profit for both brand and traditional DRTV marketers. And, we’ll look at how the Six Degrees may change some of the most deeply embedded habits of our industry.

Starting Point: The Yin Yang of Profit

Sadly, most campaigns choose to focus on one or the other of our first two degrees. These two degrees are interconnected. To reap the best profits through DRTV, campaigns must achieve a balance between the two.

  • Immediate direct sales/leads by phone or Web
  • Sales/leads in other channels (retail, Web, mobile, social, continuing sales)

The Direct Sales Error

Yell-and-sell practitioners tell me that even when seeking retail sales, they believe the most effective overall campaign is the one that uses every trick in the book to drive direct sales. (Besides, they love the cash flow from immediate sales revenue.) Campaigns of this type started our industry, and the MER mythology has been enhanced by the fog of time.

But a single-minded focus on direct sales drives creative choices that reduce impact at retail. And, it creates a definition of success that is so high that it kills many projects — projects that would succeed if total profit were considered.

The Retail Channel Error

Many brand agencies encourage clients to ignore direct sales, reducing DRTV to little more than inexpensive media. But this error of one dimensionality also reduces profits.

Why would it matter when you’re selling eight, 10 or even 20 units at retail per unit sold directly? Because profit from direct sales should subsidize media cost. And when a company creates effective direct selling brand DRTV, that company can get two or three times the on-air media for the same out-of-pocket cost.

Unfortunately, brand DRTV direct selling is very hard creative work. Too many agencies minimize the need to sell directly, then satisfy clients with “A” grade production that covers up “C” to “F” grade communication. Sadly, the ultimate result of these campaigns isn’t just low direct sales, but lower impact at retail.

Balance Creates Higher Profits

In his book “Convergence Marketing,” Richard Rosen presents this balance through a “Velocity Scale.” His testing of the Velocity Scale across a range of direct marketing shows that when you strive hardest for direct sales, your total profit decreases rather than increases.

In fact, we recently compared a balanced campaign with a one-dimensional campaign in the same category. While direct sales were comparable, the balanced campaign drove three times the retail revenue per media dollar. So while the extremes of yell-and-sell might snag a couple more direct sales, they may drive away 20 or 30 sales at retail.

Seek Balance

Focusing on one degree at the expense of the other will diminish total campaign profitability. Create and manage your campaigns in ways that balance these two degrees. When you do, you’ll find that you’ll get even stronger financial results. ■


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