By George Leon, Chief Strategy Officer – Hawthorne

Original Publication: New Media and Marketing 

Date of Publication: January 23, 2019

When it comes to capitalizing on direct response television (DRTV) advertising, some of the best advice comes from privately held startups valued at over $1 billion. That’s because they’ve seemingly mastered the use of TV advertising that directly engages consumers, from launch to growth.

Successful brands like Experian, Dollar Shave Club and Peloton have used DRTV precisely because it is particularly effective for launching and building brands. They appreciate the fact that you can directly engage with consumers by displaying toll-free numbers and/or website URLs and asking them to take specific actions. They also like that DRTV works across all potential consumer touchpoints, is highly measurable, and makes good use of data. And DRTV seamlessly integrates with their entire portfolios of advertising and media channels, including digital, offline, mail, email, radio, print, etc., yet can still be can be customized, targeted and segmented across all those channels.

Brand Strategy

In a recentwebinarhosted by the Data & Marketing Association on the basics of DRTV and its expanding role in brand marketing, I had the privilege of talking with champion unicorn marketer, Nick Fairbairn, who is Chief Marketing, Growth & Revenue Officer for Go. Previously, Fairbairn was Senior VP of Marketing at Le Tote and VP of Brand Marketing at Dollar Shave Club.

In our discussion about DRTV, we covered everything from messaging to the importance of metrics. I recommend you listen to the full webinar, but I’ve pulled out what I think are the top takeaways:

As seen on DRTV

1. Take a portfolio approach
It’s gotten harder and harder for brands to earn market share from traditional TV approaches. Because the more common approaches are losing steam, brands need new ways to capture customers’ attention, and DRTV delivers. But don’t forget you can’t shift to a new medium and forget the rest. You have to build and maintain a portfolio.

DRTV is anchored around accountability performance and measurement, and provides for greater customer targeting and segmentation across all channels. That’s why it is becoming a bigger part of brands’ omnichannel campaigns. But it isn’t – and shouldn’t be – the only part.

I asked Fairbairn for his advice regarding the portfolio approach, and he stressed that dependencies on one channel, such as social media, can spell trouble. “What happens when the algorithms no longer work? Or what happens when the creative stops working? In some of these digital channels you have one second to tell a story. In television, you can tell a little bit more of a story. And you can drive response at the same time.”

2. Know your audience
DRTV’s strong data component is driving its growth. Data helps you identify and target the customer, right-size your message for the customer and also pick and choose the right channels and right devices. That’s critical, because the customer journey has expanded.

The good news is DRTV is rooted in strong data, and that data can be used to sharpen your knowledge about current and potential customers and determine the best channel or channels work best for which audience and which marketing campaign. It’s no longer one customer one channel, now it’s one customer multiple channels and multiple devices.

Fine Tune Your Message

3. Fine-tune your message
Once you know your customer – and again, take full advantage of data to best understand their preferences – it’s time to think about your message. The data can help inform not only the message, but its optimal length and form (short or long) and the right cadence of ads. And how customers consume messaging? You’ll need to consider everything from television to the internet and all the way down to radio and print.

With DRTV, you can take a message and customize for the audience and the channel. That’s important, because the customer journey has expanded. They have choices and are driving their own experiences, and DRTV can help you craft the right message, the right frequency and right channel.

4. Get creative with your creative
Stop the customer before he or she gets up from the couch and walks away. And if you’ve fine-tuned your message (see #3) it’s easier come up with a show-stopping opener. Keep things simple, straightforward and succinct, too.

One question many brands ask is whether to uses a spokesperson. Sometimes, it makes sense. But using spokespeople can be costly and sometimes overtake your message or your brand. Don’t forget the power of testimonials, transformation tales, and imagery.

Fairbairn had some powerful advice about blending visual messaging with audio in DRTV ads, and I couldn’t agree more.

“It’s not just about audio,” Fairbairn said. “People always say to me, ‘You already said it in the spot, so why show it on screen? But there is something about queuing the two pieces together to increase the retention of the message.”

Finally, never end your DRTV advertisement on a weak note. Carefully consider your call to action and brand placement on the screen.

Many common brands have their roots in responsive TV integrated with digital executions. Their strategies and tactics provide great learnings and will provide a great roadmap for the next, great brand launch.

Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target new customers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize customer lifetime value and drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. Contact us to learn more about our expertise by  Contacting Hawthorne.