Column: Does Your Name Brand Have a Future in DRTV?

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Wouldn't it be great if you could neatly bundle up your products or services in an emotional wrapper that gets right to the heart of the very customers you're trying to reach? Seeing your television advertisements they would become engaged instantly, learn as much as they need to know about your wares and then rush out to purchase them today and in the future.

Yes, we know this is every marketer's dream. But it's not so far fetched with direct response television, a vehicle that for years has been helping brand-name marketers pull in customers who simply aren't accessible through traditional television advertising methods.

How does it work? Well, most people buy based on emotions. They buy because they like the feeling that a product or service invokes from within, and hope that by making the purchase they can experience that feeling over and over again.

The longer commercial formats afforded by DRTV allow companies to stoke those passions by building around their brand message an intricate emotional and rational wrapper that entices customers to pay attention, listen and buy. This is difficult to mimic with a 30-second spot, which allows just enough time to lay out one or two primary product benefits before another spot jumps into its place.

Applicable for All, Used By Many

When Fortune 500 companies and other brand-oriented marketers integrate DRTV into the advertising mix, they use a format that lends itself to consumer education about the brand and the product that the label represents. Companies like Apple Computer, Nikon, Evinrude, Nissan, Redken and dozens of other brand-name marketers have already discovered the impressive results, measurable qualified leads, sales and increased brand recognition that DRTV delivers.

These marketers can tell stories through the longer-format shows, thus tightening up the emotional wrappers that encase their products and services. So, instead of a blur of image, consumers see the item, learn about it, see it in action, and are that much more equipped to make their ultimate buying decision.

A favorite saying is, "The more you tell, the more you sell." Nowhere is that more applicable than on TV, where spot ads come and go so quickly that viewers hardly have time to take a sip of tea before the commercial is over.

Universal in nature, DRTV is useful for nearly every product and service that's advertised to the general mass market or a specialty niche. America Online, the U.S. Navy, Hyatt and Johnson & Johnson have all used it, and that proves the universality of the medium.

Here are a few specific ways that you can cement your brand's future on DRTV:

· Use a Brandmercial: Part traditional lead generator, part brand builder, these half-hour shows help companies achieve a unique competitive advantage by fully informing and educating the audience while giving marketers adequate time to communicate the full story behind their offerings. Brand values and high production quality are paramount, as companies like Discover Card and Apple have already discovered through their non-intrusive brandmercials that gain audiences on individual interests.

· Build a Customer Base: Smart marketers know that value of a robust database of current, past and prospective customers. The quickest way to populate that database is through shows where an 800-number and a Web site allow for the collection of names and contact information. If 15,000 people call in for more information on a product, for example, the marketer ends up with a secondary profit center through which it can deepen customer relationships by extending further information and offerings to those prospects.

· Demand Accountability: Let's face it; traditional television advertising just doesn't cut it when it comes to accountability. Who really knows who is watching the snippets, and which of those viewers are actually making purchases as a result of those short spots? Direct response television and its 800-numbers and Web sites introduce an entirely new level of measurability and accountability. With the right systems in place, brand marketers can track specifically where their dollars are being spent, and exactly what kind of ROI is being kicked back.

· Use Champions to Better Define Your Brand: Highlight the features, pinpoint key benefits and effectively close the loop on the sales argument or presentation. Infuse the show with authenticity through testimonials that speak directly to your audience, telling it exactly what value to expect from using the product or service. These testimonials or "raving fans" champion the message, telling it in their own words, and become a credible source for the product's attributes. This is unattainable in a 30-second spot environment.

· Create Impact at the Retail level: Direct response television is an effective way to build hybrid programs that not only encompass lead campaigns (to track leads directly from TV), but that also include an 800 number and a Web site address. Prospects are directed to their nearest dealer, thus creating a "retail drive" component within the campaign.

Wrapping It Up

As you construct and refine that emotional-rational wrapper around your brand, take a page from the book that Revlon, Sears, Target, Jenny Craig and American Express and many others have already written and look to DRTV spots and infomercials as a way to further cement the brand in the minds of current and future prospects. Whether through a one- or two-minute spot, or a half-hour infomercial, the more time you engage a customer in dialogue, discussion or conversation, the more credible your brand will be, and the greater chance you'll have of closing the sale.

 

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