Coca-Cola. Microsoft. Apple. What do they have in common? They are nationally known brands. Billions of dollars have been spent by these corporations on advertising so that the mere mention of their names conjures images of who they are.
But do we really know who they are just by their names? Do we even understand what their brands really are? The long-held belief that branding creates the market and the demand is not always true, especially if you are not a multibillion-dollar corporation.
The age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, applies to branding and marketing. Which comes first? Most traditional advertisers think that by building the brand you create the market and the demand. But brand building alone does not guarantee success in the marketplace.
This mistake was made by many dot-com companies during the past two years. Billions of dollars were spent by these companies on brand advertising campaigns, campaigns that were slick and visually compelling but did not provide basic information about what their sites were and why you needed them. Many of us can recall the commercials, but we have no idea what type of products and services the Web sites provided.
So, when launching a product or service, which should come first? If you build the demand, you will create the brand.
Direct response television, infomercials in particular, have done an outstanding job of creating demand and thus establishing new brands. DRTV allows the advertiser to educate consumers about what it is selling and make the sale. Even if your purpose is not to make a direct sale, an infomercial can be the most cost-effective method of educating your target audience and creating a brand name.
Monster.com is a good example. For years you could see Monster.com’s logo and quirky, award-winning 30-second commercials. But how much did you really know about its services? Monster did not think viewers knew very much, so last year the company launched a successful infomercial campaign to educate consumers on just what the company was and what the benefits of the site were. The result was an increase in its brand awareness, an increase in job recruiters and an increase in traffic to the site. In just three months, the campaign more than adequately met the objectives Monster set at a fraction of the cost it had been spending on traditional advertising.
Infomercials have long been the launching pad for so many of the successful brands you see on store shelves. Hooked on Phonics, Adams Golf and the AeroBed are examples of household names that created demand through the infomercial format. Today, these companies are the leaders in their respective categories and established themselves by first creating demand.
DRTV has also provided the means for start-up companies to become established and successful. Trinity Golf was a new venture with a unique product that used an infomercial to introduce its Beta II Ti Driver. Ten months later, Trinity is one of the fastest-growing start-ups in the golf industry, thanks to the success of the infomercial campaign.
DRTV also can cost-effectively expand an existing brand. Say the words Indy racing and you automatically think of the Indy 500. However, that is not all there is to Indy racing.
That was the problem facing executives of the Indy Racing League: how to let motor racing enthusiasts know that the Indy 500 is just one of 13 races that form the Indy Racing League Series, as well as entice newcomers to each event.
The traditional ad campaign the league had been running did not accomplish what it had hoped, so it turned to DRTV. Since January, the Indy Racing League has run an infomercial in each city the league holds a race.
The show introduces viewers to the world of Indy racing and provides information on how to buy tickets. Since it began airing, the Indy Racing League has seen an increase in ticket sales of 25 percent to 30 percent at each race so far this season, with some events sold out.
The new century has seen advances in communication and advertising. This extends to DRTV as well. It is no longer a fair assumption to think of infomercials as merely vehicles selling novel little products in the late-night hours.
DRTV is an effective vehicle that reaches a target audience and, when taken full advantage of, builds a brand and generates revenue through expanded channels of distribution for years.
So, if you are not a Coca-Cola or a Sony, maybe by building demand for your product through DRTV, you soon will be.