Winning Spots Require Testing, Research and Editing

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I can't tell you the number of times, during my years in this business, when a client has marched into my office with a widget and a fistful of dollars, just itching to swing into production. Often, these clients are completely ignorant of the realities of this business and what it takes to make a spot successful. And when I try to explain it to them, they nod and say yes, but they don't really hear it. They don't want to hear it.

One of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of our job in production is trying to make clients hear what they don't want to hear. Here are some of the issues/realities to which new clients most often turn a deaf ear.

Test, test, test!

I can't stress enough the importance of leaving room in the budget for re-editing and testing a spot. Testing should not be limited to a single group of airings that determine if it's a hit, but prevent the possibility for further adjustments.

Even with all of the market research available, no one - no matter how experienced or successful - can say for certain how the audience will react to a particular spot. The only way to know for sure is to put the spot out there, evaluate the consumer's reaction, and tweak the spot to suit the audience.

Large companies drawing on years of experience in creating successful direct marketing campaigns always leave plenty of room in the budget for re-editing and testing. But many clients who are new to DRTV underestimate the value of these steps. They don't allocate adequate funds for testing, re-editing and adjusting the spot because they don't understand the vagaries of dealing with the marketplace. Confident in the knowledge that their product is well-crafted and useful, they are certain that it will create a financial windfall straight off the bat. Unfortunately, their products do not realize their full potential because of this.

Challenges of High-Ticket Items

Although customers are now more willing to spend more than $19.99 on a product advertised in a DRTV spot, it is still very challenging to sell a product with a high price point in a minute or two, especially if the product is new to the marketplace. Most products priced at more than $29.99 that sell well in spots have already been established in a longer format. The audience is familiar with the product and has had time to think about whether it's worth the money.

Many new clients, however, view the spot as a cheaper alternative to an infomercial. They don't want to think about whether their product is better suited to short form, long form, or both. It's important to evaluate the nature of the product and understand how best to market it before you swing into production, not after.

Finding the Right Market

Effective spots work because they are aimed at a specific target audience. If the spot is aimed at an audience that is too broad, it will seem bland and won't speak to anyone. But a spot with an extremely narrow focus will miss many potential consumers. It's important to understand who needs the product and who would be willing to buy it.

It's not uncommon for clients to come in with preconceived ideas about who is going to buy their product. In some cases, they think that everyone needs their product, when in reality it is something that will sell to a more restrictive niche market. But the clients don't want to hear about such limited prospects. They cling to the belief that their product has universal appeal and refuse to accept having a limited audience.

I also see many clients who have made up their mind that only a very specific type of consumer will buy their product, and would not consider broadening their target base. They insist that the product should only be sold to these people and in this region and won't even discuss anything else. Aiming the spot toward a broader audience may reveal a whole new group of consumers that the client may not have thought about. They are robbing themselves of possible sales when they limit the product to an excessively narrow target audience.

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