Jul 11

Response June: Highmark, Direct Tech, and the Retail Revolution

Here’s hoping everyone had a great 4th of July holiday! After returning from a week in Massachusetts, visiting my wife’s family and friends, I pushed through my inbox and some other pressing matter to give myself a few moments to put together a quick recap of Response‘s June issue. While we’re still getting back on track with timing following late April’s Response Expo, the issue has been online and hitting mailboxes for more than 2 weeks now. Led by a cover story on one of Blue Cross Blue Shield‘s largest affiliates, Highmark, the issue also includes features on the wider healthcare and pharmaceuticals market and a pair of loosely connected stories: a roundtable on the vast effects of Amazon on marketers and retailers of all stripes; and our second quarterly Advisors Forum of 2017, which tackles the rapidly changing retail space. Looking for background on how these items — and more — came together? You’ve come to the right place.

  • The cover feature on Pittsburgh-based Highmark — featuring an interview with Chris Zdanowski, director, strategic marketing, senior markets, commercial markets, and retail — had its beginnings in an email pitch from Highmark’s agency, Partners + Napier, in February. Shortly thereafter, I connected with Becca Bellush, the agency’s associate director of PR and social media, who served as an outstanding liaison between the Highmark team and me. Not only was this story a pleasure to work on from start to finish, due to the accessibility of Bellush, Zdanowski, and all others involved, but it also bore out many of the concepts we’ve been talking about recently in Response. The highlighted campaign features a mix of online and offline media, has a clear and measurable goal, and maximizes back-end technology to track results. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Marketing With High Marks
  • Beyond Highmark’s success using performance-based marketing tactics, our freelancer Bridget McCrea tackled a wider look at what’s new in marketing across the healthcare and pharmaceutical markets. She found marketers, both large and small, utilizing new technology to take their messages — and more importantly, their services — directly to consumers, at the time and place they wish. From using secure, online video chat to apps that allow patients to make more informed decisions about their care, health and pharma marketers are ahead of the technological game. In case you skipped the link above: The Future of Healthcare Has Arrived — and It’s D-to-C
  • Riffing from one of our most popular sessions at Response Expo, a third feature — penned by freelancer Doug McPherson — takes a look at the many ways Amazon is changing business, from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom. We enlisted three of the speakers from that “Amazon Effect” Expo session — Jaffer Ali of PulseTV.com, Matt Fiedler of Vinyl Me, Please, and Rus Sarnoff of Integrated Marketing — to give us an overview of a few of those issues. Here’s that story link again: It’s a Jungle Out There
  • The second of our quarterly roundtables featuring members of the Response Advisory Board takes a look at the changing face of retail. Early in May, I sent a series of questions to our advisors and five leaders stepped up to share their thoughts on how brick-and-mortar and e-commerce can not only coexist but flourish as consumer desires — and their attendant habits — change. If you missed the link, it’s right here: The Changing Face of Retail
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the DR radio sector for fourth-quarter 2016 results. The radio market notched a fifth consecutive quarterly increase — this time, 6.7 percent. However, the big news is that 2016’s total of $69.9 million marked the radio market’s best year since 2004. How did it happen? For a full look at 4Q 2016 DR radio media billings, click here: DR Radio Billings Continue Winning Streak to Close 2016
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • My Editor’s Note column riffs off of an idea I’ve formulated recently while attending industry events and thumbing through other publications. And it closes with a concept you’re going to see an awful lot of in the coming months — more pointedly than ever before. If you’ve been inattentive to the direction Response has taken and if you missed the link above, here it is: The Third Leg — Media Drives Technology and Commerce

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

May 12

Response April: Monsters, Makeup, and Memories

Just days before Response Expo late last month, the April issue of Response hit the web and mailboxes. Before it’s time for the May edition to drop, I finally found a window in the schedule to take a look back at the issue, which features a cover story on long-time job seeking/recruiting leader Monster Worldwide. Additionally, there’s the last installment of our four-part series on the consumer journey, our annual look at the beauty and personal care market, and an exclusive Q&A feature with the seven legends who were inducted to the Direct Response Hall of Fame on April 27 at the Expo. Suffice it to say, it’s a power-packed issue. Here’s more on how it came together:

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Dec 04

Response November: Doing Well by Doing Good

Response November 2016Response’s November issue hit the web and mailboxes during the past two weeks. Here’s something to consider: in our four feature stories, we cover the housewares market, the medical equipment space, the travel marketing world, and home shopping/e-retail. Even for our team, that’s some impressive breadth. That’s not to mention this month’s research and opinion pages. Suffice it to say, we packed a lot into a tight 52 pages. If you want to hear more about how it came together, read on:

  • If you are in the habit of listening to your car radio, there’s a high likelihood you’ve heard a Boll & Branch ad. I can’t remember the last time I was in my car heading to our Orange County office on a Monday morning and didn’t hear a B&B ad on one of Howard Stern’s SiriusXM channels. So when I went to the IRCE show in Chicago in June, I made sure to head to the educational session featuring Scott Tannen, co-founder and CEO of the company. In the days thereafter, I reached out to Tannen’s team to see if they would have any interest in a cover feature on their performance-based marketing efforts. Very quickly, the PR liaison for the company, Dillan Arrick, was on the job. Timing was the issue, which is how many of our cover stories — this one included — take five or more months from genesis to print. Scott, his wife Missy, the company’s co-founder and president, and Dillan could not have been easier to work with. And this story is not only a great testament to performance-based metrics building a huge housewares e-retailer, it’s also a feel-good piece about a company that does things the right way. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Balancing More Than Sheets
  • Think of your own needs and desires when you travel. Are they more about convenience or comfort? Service or luxury? Now, multiply those by the choices of billions of others and you’ll understand the challenges travel marketers face in today’s consumer-controlled marketing world. Make promises … at your own peril. Our Nicole Urso Reed dove into the space for this feature, chatting with marketers from across the travel spectrum to find out what’s working — and what isn’t. In case you skipped the link above: Total Immersion
  • Another key member of our team of contributors, Bridget McCrea delved into the rapidly changing world of home shopping. With the expansion of Amazon, long-time home shopping leaders like HSN and QVC have had to nimbly adjust their business plans. And, just as they’re gaining comfort as multichannel e-retailers, along comes Amazon again — now with its own online “home shopping” programming. What’s next in the home shopping world? Here’s that story link again: The ‘Amazon-ing’ of Home Shopping
  • Our Doug McPherson‘s outstanding case study on the truly intriguing birth and success of the HurryCane, is not your average “bring a hot new product to market” story. From the why and the when to the how and the who, the success of this medical equipment legend took many hands. If you missed the link above, click here: How a HurryCane Forms
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the short-form DRTV space for second-quarter 2016 results. And though those results show the least-steep decline in more than a year, short-form DRTV — at least according to how Kantar Media measures it — continues to flounder. Is it an issue of what Kantar’s measuring — to wit, are its parameters for a direct response spot too narrow in today’s performance-based marketplace? We’ve heard rumblings from readers about this, and we’re not wholly unconvinced. For a full look at 2Q 2016 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: Short-Form DRTV Media Billings Continue to Fade
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, in my Editor’s Note column, I ask marketers and other leaders in our space to look ahead — at 2017 and beyond — after spending months spellbound by the most memorable and most embarrassing election cycle in modern U.S. history. We, as an industry, have plenty of challenges — and opportunities — to focus upon in the coming months and years. Let’s get to them! If you missed the link above, here it is: Now That That’s Over …

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!