Direct Response Evolves to Brand Response

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Tim Hawthorne, Hawthorne Direct
Tim Hawthorne, Hawthorne Direct

To say that brand marketers and advertisers remain keen on direct response television (DRTV) in 2013 would be a major understatement. Neutrogena, Rubbermaid, United Healthcare, Vonage, Bose, and Clorox are just a handful of the many brands that have executed short- or long-form campaigns only recently. These brands have effectively tapped into the “brand response” trend—using it to drive customers to retail stores and websites, or to generate leads, while accurately measuring media effectiveness and building their brands. As more and more brands make their way into the brand response arena in the digital age, they're learning that it's a vastly different environment than traditional awareness advertising.

There five key points that many brand advertisers have uncovered along the way. These should be kept top of mind when shaping your own successful brand response strategy: 

1. With Brand Response TV (BRTV,) you can touch, feel, and measure your results. As a highly accountable advertising medium, brand response television allows brands to connect directly with their end users in ways that traditional methods can't touch. This “touch” enables yet another huge benefit of brand response:  the ability to collect consumer data, track sales results, and make rapid fire decisions around media buys, advertising messages, and other critical campaign components.

2. Ginsu Knives and Pocket Fisherman are long gone. Sure you still might see the occasional “yell and sell” traditional “infomercial” (a word that has, itself, become passé) on television late at night, but their numbers are dwindling. A combination of self-regulation, government oversight, and mix of consumer apathy and disbelief has reduced the numbers of “old style” DRTV products on air. Today, this leaves the marketplace open for brands to use this powerful channel. BRTV production values have also improved dramatically—right along with the direct response selling techniques and messages—and have made brand response a compelling proposition for brand marketers. 

3. Brand response plays well with others. BRTV picks up where branding leaves off by persuading consumers to take action by picking up the phone, visiting a website, or taking a closer look during their next trip to the mall. Whereas 15- and 30-second image ads help boost product awareness and change attitudes, brand response commercials lead viewers directly to the next level. They motivate consumers to take action. Because it integrates so well with other efforts, BRTV helps to create a more powerful sales environment where both new and established brands can be seen and heard.

4. Brand response allows you to tell your story. When Fortune 500 companies and other brand-oriented marketers integrate BRTV into the advertising mix, they leverage a longer format (60/90/120 seconds) that lends itself to consumer education about the brand. Instead of a 15-second message blur, consumers can actually learn in depth about a product's features and benefits, see it in action, and make a well-informed buying decision. Whether they make that final decision via phone, web, mobile, or retail, chances are greatly increased that they will remember your story.

5. Use the experts.As flexible and resilient as general ad agencies are, most rarely dip their toes into BRTV's waters, and for good reason:  They don't have the expertise, nor do they understand how it can play a critical role within a brand marketer's campaign strategy. For this reason, it's always best to work with a full service BRTV agency that knows the medium inside and out. Put simply, a successful direct response marketing campaign requires strategies and analytics—something that many traditional agencies simply have not yet mastered.

Brand response continues to gain traction, as more organizations look to invest in accountable, actionable advertising methods that produce solid results with measureable ROI. My advice to any brand marketers who are looking to up their ante and gain more traction in the market: Now is the time to explore brand response as a viable adjunct to your existing advertising strategy.

Tim Hawthorne is founder and CEO of Hawthorne Direct. Contact him at tim.hawthorne@hawthornedirect.com.

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