Oct 13

Response September: 25 Years Down and a Transition to Come

Following on the heels of my August recap, here’s a look at Response‘s September issue — the last issue of our 25th year of publication and the final issue prior to the brand refresh we’ve been working on in recent weeks. Appropriately, then, the issue is led by a cover story about a traditional direct-to-consumer marketer also celebrating its 25th anniversary: Tristar Products. Beyond that, September’s book includes a look at marketing in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market, a piece on the power of video marketing (no matter the medium) driving the convergence of media, technology, and commerce, and our 22nd annual State of the Industry report. Let’s take a look at how these — and other stories — came together to form this transitional issue.

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

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!

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!