Great DRTV: Pure and simple

There is a mystique surrounding direct response television that has always baffled me. This mystique makes DRTV to be a strange animal that takes a completely different skill set to tackle. That it’s a complicated science only highly trained direct response clinicians should attempt to do. You know, the “Don’t try this at home” syndrome.

I’ve never bought this premise. Good DRTV is just good salesmanship, clarity and common sense. It’s what any good piece of marketing communication is made of: print, billboards, radio, mail and so on. Great DRTV takes “that something extra.”

Years ago I learned a valuable lesson working at Ogilvy. Any good successful piece of advertising needs the following three ingredients:

First, have information about the product and its unique selling proposition.

Second is a clear and concise statement of that information. If you have only these two ingredients, your communications will be good and effective. This is where most of today’s DRTV falls, good but not great.

Here’s what separates good from great: a unique, intrusive and compelling execution. Emotion! That’s the difference. When you combine good salesmanship with emotion it’s a win-win situation.

First, television by its nature is an entertainment vehicle. People are in an “emotional” mode when they sit down to watch. They tend to get up and go out and get a sandwich or go to the bathroom when the commercials go on.

If your spot is intrusive, you “grab” them and get their attention. Now, you’ll be able to deliver that nice, clear and concise sales message. Make sense?

Here’s a fact: most people want things for emotional reasons. They buy with rational ones. So it makes sense to attack both sides of the equation. Not just one. With an intrusive creative execution, your DRTV spot will have a higher mental recall. It will be talked about. There may be incremental sales because of the “word of mouth” quality of the spot.

People love talking about great TV spots. Hey, when was the last time you heard anyone say, “Did you see that great DRTV spot last night?” Not too often. I personally have had much success in DRTV using the emotional / rational equation for clients like Sony, Quicken, Lipitor, ESPN and American Express, to name a few.

The way I see it, we are doing clients a disservice by not creating DRTV spots that are intrusive, compelling and emotional as well as informative and clear. Clients’ brands should be “talked about” and direct response is no exception.

OK, to sum up, DRTV is not mystical. Good DRTV is good salesmanship, clarity plus common sense. Great DRTV is the above with a unique, compelling, intrusive, creative execution to boot. To echo David Ogilvy, “You can’t bore the consumer into buying your product.” Amen, David, Amen!

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