Integrating DRTV into the mix

No one likes to change. After all, mixing things up takes brainpower, effort and usually money – all of which we’d rather conserve than shell out on a new marketing program. But if the method is too enticing and profitable to resist, we’ll do it anyway, right?

Wrong. That’s how many brand marketers feel when it comes to long-form and short-form DRTV: they know it’s out there and they know it works, but they’re just not sure how to integrate it into their marketing mix in a fruitful way. So status quo is the way to go.

Here’s the good news busting out of your marketing routines: testing DRTV is a piece of cake. Companies that opt to run multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns without DRTV are missing out on a big piece of pie made attainable through direct response strategies that incorporate the TV, the Web and the telephone. Put simply, it provides a distinct channel of communications and distribution that augments any current marketing program already in place. And it does it without cannibalizing any other media.

So how do you get there? Look first at how DRTV can synergize your existing campaign already running on TV/radio, in print, billboards and direct mail. By setting up a business where cost-per-order (CPO) serves as a fully accountable metric in a real-time, 24/7 environment, you can drive both direct sales and retail sales at the same time. That’s where the synergy comes in.

Remember that DRTV is less of an advertising strategy and more of a marketing medium. Because it integrates so well with other efforts, DRTV becomes symbiotic with advertising that’s already in place, and works hand-in-hand to create a more powerful sales environment where both new and established brands can be seen and heard.

The Web is a good example of this. Early on, marketers felt that Web sales would somehow steal the glory being set forth by short-form and long-form DRTV efforts. As e-commerce evolved, it became clear that this wasn’t the case at all. In fact, the two mediums work together in tandem, with the Web picking up where the DRTV left off.

That’s because the Web has become a distribution portal, or a place to re-purpose all of the DRTV information already produced. It’s a no brainer for the marketer who has been using a traditional media mix and who wants to look outside of the box for ways to increase sales, profits and brand imagery.

Whereas in the past companies created CPO-driven long-form campaigns as a way to make money off the show’s performance, we now see components like retail and continuity taking center stage as key revenue drivers for the products. Both of these components are required, and much like the Web, tend to integrate very well with the marketer’s DRTV efforts.

To make the leap into DRTV as painless as possible, it’s best to start with a qualified DRTV experienced ad agency that can develop the message, create the show(s) and purchase the media for campaign. In other words, you don’t want to try this at home, nor do you want to reinvent the wheel. Hundreds of other marketers have come before you. Many have succeeded and many more have failed using this complex marketing tool. Why not learn from their experiences?

During your search for a good DRTV partner, look for companies that deliver best practices, and that have solid, integrity-based reputations. They should be willing to take the time to educate a newbie on the fine points of DRTV, and how to most effectively integrate this marketing tool into an existing program. Don’t ask them to do the DRTV campaign for you – ask them to teach you about the business. Learn about the accountability factor, the dollars and cents of it, and the myriad other elements that go into a successful DRTV campaign. Only then can you truly understand its place in a company’s overall marketing mix.

Throughout the integration process, understand that DRTV is not meant to replace a firm’s general marketing efforts, but to augment them with a powerful selling vehicle that will achieve objectives and provide real-time readouts on the delivery. It’s unlike any other form of advertising, but it requires vision and foresight to understand what the medium really means for your company. Ultimately, it provides at least one piece of a company’s machinery with real-time results that are fully reportable to a CFO (who will probably smile when he or she gets them…).

When you integrate DRTV into your marketing mix, you also grab a slice of your competitors’ market share – an increasingly important advantage in today’s competitive business environment. Where large traditional marketers like Reckitt Benckiser used to “own” the anti-acne space through perennial best-seller Clearasil, for example, a company like Guthy Renker can come in and use DRTV to stake its claim in that segment. This strategy not only produces profits, but also delivers a competitive advantage for any company operating in that particular segment.

With a high number of brand marketers already using DRTV to get their messages out, sell products and services, and extend their brand investments, the medium has become fertile breeding ground for new entrants looking to reap its benefits. Apple, Nissan, Discover Card and Nikon are just a few of the recognizable brands that have already garnered rewards from integrating DRTV, and there are many more to come. Through DRTV, they can spotlight their brands and still have enough time to really romance those brands and give them a special face.

While it sounds simple enough to churn out a show and slap it on the air with a 1-800 number attached to it, the reality is that it takes a dedicated, focused approach to create a successful DRTV campaign that truly integrates with a firm’s existing advertising efforts. By following the advice in this article and combining it with the help of an experienced DRTV producer and media buyer, companies across all industries can begin reaping the benefits of this complex, proven marketing method.

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