DRTV: Production Is Not Enough Anymore

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Once upon a time the infomercial business was made up of an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs and service suppliers who morphed from their existing line of work to try their hand at the new world of selling products on television.

Marketers and distributors who were using catalogs, print ads and selling to retailers were skeptical of the new selling practice. The costs involved - spot and show production, telemarketing, fulfillment center and media - scared many of these traditional marketers. Who could afford to do this? Who knew how? Why would anyone take such a risk with ad money?

So how did willing product makers and service providers put together a DRTV team to create and manage their campaigns?

The answer: they didn't. It was hit or miss. Few people in the creative industry had ever heard the word "infomercial," let alone created 60- and 120-second spots or half-hour shows. The mainstream creative world looked down on DR creatives as low-end players in the ad world who couldn't get real jobs at the big agencies creating 15- and 30-second spots.

There were only a handful of telemarketing companies. Most of them were handling inbound calls for catalogs and were not equipped to handle an influx of calls that a successful TV campaign can generate. Basically there was little choice and weak or underdeveloped technology to receive and track phone calls.

Fulfillment also was in the same technological quagmire. Real time reporting and inventory was not yet invented. Weekly or monthly hand count and account reconciliations were as good as it got. Zone skipping had not yet been utilized.

Entrepreneurs, marketers, distributors and inventors today are much more fortunate. They can hire a DRTV producer to oversee the selection and coordination of all the necessary support companies to execute a DRTV campaign.

A top DRTV producer knows how everything works together in order to ensure maximum results from their creative work. An increasingly difficult TV environment that has been inundated by the proliferation of niche channels, more ads, tougher FCC regulations and the prohibitive cost of media makes a well-seasoned, well-rounded producer a prerequisite.

A producer must know more than how to create a compelling commercial that sells. A producer must also know FCC regulations for legal claims, what medical claims can be declared and how far to push a demo. Station clearance these days is getting tougher and tougher. Producing a creative and entertaining infomercial is really just the tip of the iceberg.

What type of telemarketing service will work well with a particular offer? How will the offer affect the fulfillment costs? These days a successful DRTV campaign demands a producer to wear beaucoup chapeaux, or many hats. A producer who has the right combination of hats is a product marketer's best-dressed all

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