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Direct Response Marketing

Media Zone: Getting Maximum Impact from DRTV, Part II

1 Apr, 2011 By: Doug Garnett Response

In Response’s January issue, I introduced the Six Degrees of DRTV™ that Atomic Direct uses to deliver maximum impact. That article showed how balancing direct and retail sales delivers better total results.

This month, DRTV’s big gun — media time — leads us to two more degrees:

  • Longer Media Time for Each Ad
  • Inexpensive Media Time

No matter how savvy and clever your creative, the more time your ad is on-air the better you drive retail, sell product or build brand. And that means that using your media well can double or even triple your impact.

Longer Time Formats

David Ogilvy observed, “The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.” And merely stretching the length of an advertisement doesn’t make it more informative.

This became crystal clear to me while at Tyee in the 1990s. A great deal of our DRTV work merely skipped a stone across the lake of persuasion — dipping to touch surface, but never becoming informative.

Most often, it happened with high-concept approaches that never became informative. Concepts are powerful. But consumers “get” them within 15 to 20 seconds then want advertising to dig deeper. And when you dig deeper, consumers take action — by phone, Web and at retail. For example, the Drill Doctor infomercial made the topic of drill bits so interesting and informative that it drove sales of 3 million units. Not bad for a $100 drill bit sharpener.

Inexpensive Media

Our next degree focuses on getting maximum impact from your media dollars. Truth is, many companies merely tap DRTV’s inexpensive rates but go no further. As a result, they lose half their potential media value. Let me focus on two of the many ways this happens.

Plan Your Media. DRTV media is driven by an outstanding group of media buyers. But media buyers aren’t planners and adding savvy media planning increases total impact. Consider a classic “buyer mentality.” I once took a quarterly budget to a large DRTV buyer, laid out my client’s other advertising and retail needs, then asked them to allocate the budget for maximum impact. They divided the total budget by 13 weeks in a quarter and handed it back. A planner would have delivered much more. Planners look at the client category (seasonality, demographics, competitors, etc.), other client advertising (e.g., print or Web), and DRTV’s uniqueness. Then, they lay out a strategy to makes the most of the money — on TV and at retail. Is your campaign well planned?

Learn From Responses and Modify Your Media Buy. For traditional DRTV buyers, this is obvious. But many brands buy their DRTV like a traditional buy — lay it out and let it run! Unfortunately, DRTV experience shows this approach delivers lower results. It is my experience that the media that drives the maximum direct action also delivers the best retail action per dollar. Why? While Nielsen tells demographics, DRTV finds the audience that will take action. And for every viewer who will respond directly, there are 10 to 20 more who will buy at retail.

DRTV is Game-Changing Communication

When you design your campaign to deliver in all areas of the Six Degrees, you drive DRTV to a new level. And until you’ve seen it, it’s hard to explain just how big DRTV’s impact can be.

In fact, it bothers me that the term “game changer” has become devalued — applied to opportunities that are anything but game changers. Because DRTV is one of the few communication options that can truly change your game.

Doug Garnett is founder and CEO of Atomic Direct, a Portland, Ore.-based advertising agency specializing in brands, consumer strategy, infomercials and driving retail with television. He can be reached via E-mail at or on Twitter at @DRTVGuru. For more information, visit

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