Mar 30

Response March: Housewares Legends and Consumer Journey Lessons

The March issue of Response hit the web and began delivering to mailboxes around St. Patrick’s Day — and had a nice splash at both the International Home+Housewares Show and our own DRMA Chicago Reception on March 20. This month, we reached back to our roots in the As Seen On TV space for a rare cover feature on an old-school DRTV marketer — Top Dog Direct. In addition, there’s part three of our four-part series on the consumer journey, a feature on the housewares and hardware markets, and our most recent Response Advisors Forum feature, which takes on questions about consumer privacy and data security. For more on how the March issue emerged, read on:

  • If you’ve been around the DRTV business for any appreciable amount of time, you’ve likely met Bill McAlister, president and CEO of Trevose, Pa.-based Top Dog Direct. He’s been a fixture in the As Seen On TV world since he arrived at HSN in the 1980s. And his group of companies, which were united under the Top Dog umbrella a couple of years ago, have been responsible for a series of DRTV-to-retail hits: Urine Gone; Mighty Putty; the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow; Tag Away; and the BeActive Brace — among many others. Many of those hits have been in the housewares space, which is why Top Dog always has a major presence at the Housewares Show in Chicago every March — so the timing on this piece couldn’t have been better. It was a pleasure to interview McAlister — he’s engaging, funny, and one of the most open interviewees I’ve worked with in years. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Big Bark, Bigger Bite
  • The third of our four-part “Consumer Journey” series leading into April’s Response Expo — which will feature a six-session track on the topic — focuses on the purchase. When a consumer becomes a customer is a clear moment of truth for any marketer — but much more goes into that moment than meets the eye. Technology plays a key role in making consumers comfortable enough to go through with the purchase — especially safe payment processing for increasing digital purchases. Key freelancer Nicole Urso Reed has done a great job handling this series, and in this issue, she caught up with payment processing experts Vantiv, online marketer Adore Me, and agency head (and Response Advisory Board member) Doug Garnett of Atomic Direct. In case you skipped the link above: Paid in Full
  • As our annual look at the housewares and hardware spaces notes, the housing market is booming once again — which means housewares and hardware marketers are working hard to keep pace with consumer demand. Whether major marketers will full lines of product, or a “Shark Tank”-funded startup, these verticals remain two of the healthiest in the performance-based marketing world. Here’s that story link again: Marketing House & Home
  • Seven members of our Advisory Board took part in the first of four quarterly roundtable features that will appear in the pages of Response in 2017. This quarter’s topic is a hot one: data security and consumer privacy. Capitalizing on all the incredible data available today — while respecting and protecting consumers’ desires — is one of marketers’ defining efforts in this era. What do our Advisory Board members thing? Just in case you missed it above, here’s story link again: Keeping Consumers Safe, Secure, and Satisfied
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the DR radio sector for third-quarter 2016 results. And unlike recent DRTV results, the audio medium is riding a hot streak. DR radio rounded out a full four quarters of increases by jumping more than 37 percent in 3Q 2016. In fact, the total of more than $18.5 million marked the second-best third-quarter results reported in Response since we teamed with Kantar Media in 2004. For a full look at 3Q 2016 DR radio media billings, click here: DR Radio Billings Pick Up Speed in 3Q 2016
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column delves into the increasing interest — at events, in trade publications, and elsewhere across the performance-based marketing landscape — in the post-purchase facets of the consumer journey. Timely, don’t you think? If you missed the link above, here it is: A New Focus on the Back End of the Journey?

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

May 17

Response April: Gnomes, Phones, and the Rather Well Known

Response April 2016It seems so long ago that we sent Response‘s April issue out the door. But with that happening just prior to the final countdown to Response Expo, followed by hosting the Expo, and then followed by the annual deep breath after the Expo, it’s finally time to share some of the inside information on how the issue came together. Led by a cover story on long-time online travel leader Travelocity, the issue also includes our annual story on the beauty and personal care products space, a key feature on the evolution of mobile as both a marketing and response mechanism, and an exclusive roundtable with the 2016 inductees to the DR Hall of Fame. Here’s a little more on just some of the items you should consider reading:

  • The cover story with Travelocity and its VP of marketing/general manager Brad Wilson was borne of discussions with Atrium PR leader Adrienne Scordato in late 2015. Atrium represents New York media agency Assembly, which won Travelocity’s business last year. With the help of Travelocity’s on PR insider Keith Nowak, we were able to pull together a very strong story about the marketer that’s celebrating 20 years in business, making it the longest-tenured of all the leading online travel sites. Wilson — a personable and thoughtful interviewee — is a veteran of direct-to-consumer marketing, having served at Match.com and Nutrisystem prior to joining Travelocity. In all, Travelocity’s story of combining online and offline marketing strengths (behind it’s well-known brand presence, the Roaming Gnome) may be the most powerful of our recent features focusing on such multichannel success. If you missed it above, here’s the link: Where the Gnome Roams
  • The rapid ascent of mobile as a marketing outlet and — perhaps more importantly — a consumer’s preferred viewing and response mechanism has changed the game for both sides of the marketing divide. With consumers spending more time on mobile devices than PCs or laptops — and with mobile commerce growing by leaps and bounds every month — marketers are seeking new ways to reach those consumers how and when they want. Freelancer Pat Cauley tracked down a number of marketers trying to make inroads in the mobile game — and going about it in vastly different ways. If you missed the link above but want to check out the story, click here: The Mobile Monarchy
  • On April 28, I was privileged to welcome all eight of our 2016 inductees to the DR Hall of Fame in our ceremonies at Response Expo. With six of those inductees on hand, it was an honor to introduce them and share with our attendees the joy and gratitude each of those inductees displayed in their acceptance speeches. As part of the April issue (which was available around the Expo in San Diego), we were able to conduct a roundtable with the seven living inductees. From fond remembrances to insight for the future, the resulting story is definitely worth a look: Worthy Winners
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the long-form DRTV space for fourth-quarter 2015 results. For a second consecutive quarter, the long-form market grew — inspiring some hope for 2016 after a long three-year downturn that finally subsided in the middle of last year. The quarter’s 7.7-percent increase (and a 6.6-percent jump for the final six months of the year) helped annual results in the long-form space nearly break even for 2015 as a whole. For a full look at 4Q 2015 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form DRTV Billings Build Momentum for 2016
  • An exceedingly strong group of guest columnists joined us in April (just take a look at these linked pieces: Media Zone; Support Services; En Español; Net Gains; and Guest Opinion). When that happens, I feel a bit more pressure on my Editor’s Note piece. Add in the Response Expo factor, and it was as good a time as any to restate Response‘s focus in the ever-changing and growing world we now refer to as “performance-based marketing.” And, as I note near the end of the piece, I do love feedback — in person, via phone, via email, and, yes, via the blog. If you missed the link above, click here to read (and respond to) my latest: Performance-Based Marketers Capitalize on the Present — and Drive the Future

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Apr 18

Response March: Joy, Household Toys, and 15 Years, Oh Boy!

Response March 2016After a visit to the Housewares show in Chicago (while also hosting our annual DRMA cocktail party there), a 10-day Ireland vacation, and the twin deadlines of our April issue and finalizing the speaker roster for Response Expo, I finally have a little breathing room to look back at Response‘s March issue. With a rather timely cover feature on DR Hall of Famer and award-winning biopic subject Joy Mangano, our annual look at the housewares and hardware markets, and our first Response Advisory Board roundtable of 2016 tackling the media challenges presented by election and Olympic ad spend, the magazine packed a lot of punch in its 60 pages. Here are some of the key pieces you should consider taking a look at:

  • The cover story on industry legend and 2015 DR Hall of Famer Joy Mangano was a long time coming, honestly. We had hoped to bring a feature to our readers about Mangano since the first announcement that director David O. Russell and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence were teaming to bring her story to the big screen. Mangano’s involvement in “Joy,” which netted Lawrence a Golden Globe in January, plus her creation of the retail launch discussed in the feature, took her off the board in 2015. The idea to bring readers a story about Mangano was resuscitated during a January conversation with Hawthorne Direct‘s Karla Crawford Kerr about an educational session that’s taking place at next week’s Response Expo. I mused that I was still looking for a cover for our March issue, which is always featured at the International Home+Housewares Show, and Karla immediately mentioned Joy as a perfect fit — now more than ever — if we could make it happen. She was absolutely right, and Mangano’s PR team jumped on the opportunity immediately once I reached out. The phone interview with Mangano really was an absolute joy (pardon the pun). Here’s the link to catch up with Mangano, if you missed it above: What a Joy!
  • For the first time, we combined our looks at the housewares and hardware markets into a single feature story (a combination necessitated by the addition of features on two burgeoning markets — digital goods and business solutions — to our annual editorial calendar). Our freelancer Doug McPherson did a great job with both markets, diving into the vast expansion of digital marketing and sales for both verticals. If you missed the link above but want to check it out, click here: Housewares Finds a Home
  • Our first Response Advisors Forum of 2016 tackled the year’s big TV media topics: how 11 months’ worth of political advertising and two weeks worth of Olympics advertising tying up the NBCUniversal networks will affect availability, pricing, and more. With as much as $12.5 billion expected to be spent in conjunction with the U.S. election cycle and Rio Olympics, the squeeze is on for marketers across the board. But our Advisory Board says that solid planning and a little ingenuity can help advertisers not only overcome the challenges, but thrive through them. One more thing: the online story is a web-exclusive expanded version of the story that ran in print. To see the unabridged answers from our experts, and missed the link above, just click here: A Long Run … and a Short Sprint
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the DR radio space for third-quarter 2015 results. While the radio market enjoyed its second-best 3Q results in the past six years, a pullback in spending by a single marketer doomed the space to a 10.2-percent dip from 2014’s stellar third quarter. That marketer’s reduced spending was also a big factor in losses in both the network radio outlet and the “Drug and Toiletry” category. For a full look at 3Q 2015 DR radio media billings — and to find out the culprit in those decreases — click here: 3Q 2015 Short-Form DR Billings Continue Reset After Kantar Shift
  • Fifteen years. 15. My Editor’s Note marks a decade-and-a-half since I joined the Response team as the magazine’s lead editor. What a difference time can make … I mean, look at the damn headshot. What’s that shirt-tie combo about? And I don’t remember having all that hair! Anyway, it’s been one hell of a good time putting this magazine together for our readers — and co-creating Response Expo … and the DRMA … with our esteemed publisher (and, more importantly, my friend) John Yarrington. As usual, looking back also gives one a chance to look ahead, so if you missed the link above, click here to catch some of my thoughts on our past, present, and future: Looking Back on 15 Years Crystallizes a View of the Future

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!