By Nicole Andani

Every year new trends and innovations sweep through the direct response marketing world and 2018 is evolving at the speed of light compared to 22 years ago when I first started here at Northern Response.

To understand them we have to remember what the true definition of “DRTV” is:

Direct response television (DRTV) is any television advertising that asks consumers to respond directly to the company, usually by calling an 800 number. 

Northern Response was the first company to air an “infomercial” here in Canada in the late 1980s. “Informational commercials” usually 28:30 minutes in length, were aired on TV primarily for a variety of campaigns that have become well known household names. In addition to TV, they were also featured on a very early-stage shopping channel, in addition to radio and print through credit card inserts and catalogs like Consumers Distributing and Regal Greetings & Gifts in the 1990s.

Instead of traditional advertising on a budget with no indication whether an ad worked or not, direct response marketing was measurable in terms of the return on your investment on the media spend. We could easily track the impact that advertising made by the number of calls or inquiries; orders actually converted and received and at what dollar value; in addition to “upsells” or additional items purchased beyond just the basic advertised offer.

Impact of Internet and social media

As time has gone along, with the abundance of TV channels available to eyeballs watching, in addition to PVR/recorded programming and digital streaming boxes further splintering attention, we’ve stumbled upon the Internet and the power to go mass on a global platform, but without as much measurability and a lot less accountability. Mass word of mouth can bode well if the review for your product is great or it can spread negative and sometimes uninformed commentary like wildfire.

Now in the era of social media and digital adapting algorithms for paid Google ads, organic marketing, vloggers, bloggers, influencers, search engine or mobile optimization and viral advertising through platforms like Facebook and Instagram streaming very targeted 10 second videos, that measurability has been challenged. We still make money but cannot always determine whether our TV or social advertising is just a way to drive retail sales or strictly online like Amazon.

The new definition of DRTV extends beyond “AS SEEN ON TV” and more so “AS SEEN EVERYWHERE” – big screens, small screens and any platform to target eyeballs or fingers is the goal – and then scale up once we establish target demographics and customers willing to “click to buy”. This new focus doesn’t mean that traditional marketing methods have been displaced, but the playing field has been revolutionized.

Marketing where you live online

“Follows” and “Likes” are just not enough anymore. Marketers are always experimenting with channel-specific messaging to zero in on HOW consumers like to engage with their brands of choice. To do that we have to meet customers where they live online and enhance our product offers to engage customers at different stages in the sales funnel. That might mean offering content that helps a customer use their product or service with confidence and avoid competitive alternatives or solutions on the market that might be comparable.

The old trend is new again i.e. paper

Digital media has so much heat on it these days, taking all of the attention in the marketing world. It’s easy to think that direct mail or traditional print has lost its place. With changing demographics in North America and abroad, leading to an influx in Baby Boomers and now Gen X’ers emerging, there’s still a tendency for print preferences. But there’s also a lot less mail in peoples’ mailboxes fighting for customers’ attention so it’s a good place to continue testing, or reaching your existing consumers, especially if you have products or services those generations might benefit from. Direct mail also delivers some of the highest response and conversion rates that marketers can rely on.

Big Data analytics offered by so many service groups or as free tools online, allow companies to use transactional data to create “the perfect lead or prospect” for your product or service. You can then target the potential customers who are most likely to purchase from you.

Value-added advertorials in familiar forms

Consumers have become very savvy in their shopping efforts and have more options than ever in their inboxes. As a result, they have more opportunities to turn down or ignore marketing efforts despite rolling out the red carpet for your brand or service.

In a familiar and less invasive value-added approach, customers receive information positioning you as the authority

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. If your online or email copy is sales hype, you’ll be clicked into oblivion and training your customer to ignore you like a dreaded unwanted pop-up. One of our top selling items, “TUB SHROOM”, enjoying the likes of millions of satisfied customers, is featured in a variety of ways to reach the end customer.

Here are a couple of ways to position expert copy:

  • Newsalogs look like a newspaper and feel like a newspaper, but they are actually direct mail pieces and customers are leaning towards familiar formats and influencers in their social network for product or service validation; and

  • Magalogs are four-colour sales pieces that resemble traditional magazines. They are infomercials in print and have a resurgence in terms of the delivery of product information.

Moreover, customers are 10 times more likely to purchase a product if a friend recommends it, so referral-based marketing is a huge focus for many companies. And smart marketers in 2018 will realize that the one-size-fits-all approach is a sales deflator and the trend now is a move toward microsites and landing pages and targeted informational pieces delivered in familiar format.

Niche marketing

Niche is the New Mass”– Chris Anderson

Successful brands will be those that understand the importance of designing communications and creating content that has the ability to single out an individual within a large pool or crowd to create a personalized experience.

Niche advertising is more successful than ever, and postal mail and email lists will be in big demand by direct marketers looking for specific niches to fill. Baby Boomers love premiums while Generation X loves discounts.

With so much focus on generating new leads, prospects and attracting new customers, many businesses have neglected their most profitable segment: their existing customer base.

With so many channels it can be tempting to simply push out as much content as possible and ignore the obvious. This year, businesses should remember to make the most of creating quality content that remembers the customers that helped build their companies by buying product(s) and service(s) to date. Then it’s about building trust through the proper messaging. Finally, it’s about a cohesive and consistent message across all platforms for reliability in view of the end-consumer.

Nicole Andani is vice president, international sales and marketing, Northern Response (International) Ltd. Nicole is also a marketing and strategy consultant, writer, speaker and mentor. Nicole joined the international team of Northern Response in 1996. Nicole is an ex-officio Chair of the Asia Committee Membership of the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), sits on the Advisory Committee for the ERA Magazine and serves as an awards judge for the ERA’s annual Moxie Awards.

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