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DRTV Trends

Direct Marketing

by Rob Williams

DRTV marketers and agencies expect several broad trends will continue to shape the way products and services are advertised through DRTV spots, infomercials and home shopping channels - both in the United States and abroad.

As advertisers demand better measurement, more accountability and a return on investment, DRTV media agencies see themselves well positioned to provide the expertise that traditional brand agency lack.

"Every day, I see companies that heretofore were not as concerned about measurability and building a database, moving over to direct response TV," said Rick Sangerman, at A. Eicoff & Co., a DRTV division of Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago. "Automakers, insurance companies and packaged goods companies that before were content to make their reach and frequency goals are now saying, 'I want measurability, I want accountability and I want a relationship with the customer. 'At the end of the day, one of the best ways to do that is direct response television."

"There are companies that have had award-winning campaigns that are absolutely gorgeous, but their sales have tanked," said Katie Williams, president of Williams Worldwide. "The fact that there is such a debate signify that it is going to be a very rosy year for direct response, particularly for short form."

Sangerman, expects the influx of brand advertisers into direct response campaigns to make media clearance a bigger issue in the coming year.

Need for back-end sales
The coming year is expected to bring increased sophistication to the way DRTV marketers integrate their front-end campaigns with other marketing channels. Because DRTV media costs have risen, there will be increased emphasis on up-sell programs to maximise the dollars earned from callers.

"As the market gets more and more crowded," said Gary Hewitt of K-tel Direct, "Every programme has to be more vertically integrated than ever before with back-end marketing."

Perhaps the most important area of an integrated campaign is its inbound telemarketing, the point of contact between a consumer and a DRTV marketer. Oftentimes, a tele-marketed up-sell makes all the difference in the profitability of a DRTV campaign.

"What may appear to be a $19.95 video, for example, ends up being a $50 sale," Eicoff's Sangerman said. "They up-sell them two more videos and a book on the back end. The stand-alone $19.95 video with no upsells virtually does not exist. You've got to have bigger margins to afford the media."

But DRTV marketers are wary of the quality of some telemarketing firms that are able to handle large call volumes, but don't employ highly trained salespeople to execute up-sell programs.

"As more sophisticated companies get into DRTV, capturing a name, address and telephone number isn't enough," Sangerman said. "You never have a better chance of selling consumers than when you have them on the line initially. I don't care how fast you call them back I don't care how nice you are. I don't care how good your telemarketing script is. There's a major fall- off"

He said that he sees more companies developing in-house call centres to improve the level of salesmanship not offered by telemarketing service bureau's.

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