Mar 08

Response February: Building, Engaging, and Maintaining Responsibility

It’s been a little more than two weeks since the February issue of Response hit the web and began delivering to mailboxes. With a cover story on house-and-home e-tailer, part two of our four-part series on the consumer journey, and feature on the digital goods market, this compact issue packs a serious informational punch. For more on how we pulled it together, read on:

  • I was first introduced to Marshal Downey, our cover guy and interviewee for this feature on, during the run-up to Response Expo 2016. The first connection came from Hawthorne’s Karla Crawford Kerr — a valued ally in the business and now member of our DRMA Education Committee. Though we haven’t been able to nail Marshal down as a speaker for the Expo, we eventually locked him in for this interesting look at how the now-17-year-old e-tailer has grown its customer base via online and offline outreach — as well as impeccable customer service. One of the youngest cover subjects in years (all of 13 years old in 2001 — when I took the editorial helm of Response), Downey is wise beyond his years when it comes to omnichannel marketing. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Not Your Average Home Expansion
  • The second 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 engagement. My belief in the consumer journey as the centerpiece of the Expo was further confirmed last week when I attended the annual eTail West show in Palm Desert, Calif. Various facets of the consumer journey were the focus of nearly every conversation on the show floor, at the parties, and on the educational stage. Key freelancer Nicole Urso Reed is handling the series. In this issue, she caught up with representatives of 2016 DRMA Marketer of the Year finalists Nutrisystem and Vistaprint, Response Advisory Board member Peter Koeppel, and PR/social media expert (and DRMA Education Committee member) Lindsey Carnett. In case you skipped the link above: The Power of Attraction
  • Our annual look at the digital goods space explores the depth and the breadth of what “digital goods” can be: movies, gambling, eCards, meditation, books, Wi-Fi, web design, music, dating — and more. Our Pat Cauley spoke to leaders from JibJab, Wix, Boingo (all past Response cover subjects) and more for this in-depth piece on what’s working, what’s not, and what’s new in marketing in this young but exploding vertical. Here’s that story link again: The Digital Boomtown
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the short-form DRTV sector for third-quarter 2016 results. After seven consecutive quarterly losses, short-form DRTV finally bounced back — if only slightly. A $4.3 million increase (less than 1 percent higher than 3Q 2015 results)  The network and spot TV markets continued to shine in short-form, helping make up for Hispanic’s continuing struggles. For a full look at 3Q 2016 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: A Ray of Light for Short-Form DR Billings
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, in my Editor’s Note column, two moments inspired some thoughts on the ongoing — and perhaps growing — controversy surrounding consumer privacy and data security. One phone call and one intriguing article helped prompt this piece — one that includes references to Voltaire, Spider-Man, and the Bible (all in a single sentence)! If you missed the link above, here it is: Data and Targeting, and Power and Responsibility

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Jan 27

Response January: The Rock and the Role of the Consumer

The January issue of Response hit the web and began delivering to mailboxes late last week. The issue includes a cover story on Prudential, features on the sports-and-fitness and rehab center markets, and the first in our four-part series on the consumer journey. Our first issue of 2017 is chock full of great information. How’d it come together? Read on:

  • The initial outreach for what became the cover story on Prudential and its head of brand marketing and advertising, Niharika Shah, came from Sheila Kulik of New York-based PR agency Prosek Partners in October. Sheila sent over a release about the company’s new TV and print campaign for its rebranded investment management business, PGIM. After reaching back, Sheila connected me to Pru’s VP of global communications, Discretion Winter, who expertly shepherded the interview and photography process with Niharika. By mid-November, I had the interview — a phoner — with Niharika in the can. Not only is she a deeply thoughtful and analytical marketer, but Niharika was also one of the more open interviewees I’ve spoken with in recent months. Not afraid to share in-depth thoughts on how Prudential wants to reach consumers — what its brand should mean and how performance-based methodologies can help make that happen — Niharika’s insight and personality made for an enjoyable conversation. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Rock On!
  • The consumer journey. The consumer experience. The customer journey. The user experience. Whatever your team is calling it, it’s become the buzz for marketers dealing with more empowered consumers. In the latter part of 2016, as we looked at creating content for our upcoming Response Expo in San Diego (April 25-27), it became clear that centering our education on the theme of the consumer journey made all the sense in the world. At that point, we created the trademarked “Consumer Journey Map” at right. With a five-step journey featured at the show, we decided to wedge a series of stories into the first four issues of 2017 discussing those steps with leading marketers and setting the stage for the educational sessions at Response Expo. Key freelancer Nicole Urso Reed is handling the series through April. Step one is awareness. In case you skipped the link above: Catching Looks
  • Our annual look at the sports-and-fitness space trains its eye on the fitness part of the equation. Our Doug McPherson spoke with a number of leaders in that space, including TV fitness legend and DR Hall of Famer Tony Little, about the changes wrought by younger consumers, new media options, and more. Here’s that story link again: The Pulse of Fitness
  • With nearly 23 million Americans in need of or receiving treatment for substance abuse, it’s been no shock to see both rehab centers and referral networks expand their marketing efforts. But marketing these services is — as you’d imagine — a very delicate line to walk. Our Bridget McCrea spoke with leaders from a center and a referral network about the challenges facing marketers (and their clients) in this burgeoning space. This story is the first in a planned recurring series about emerging markets for performance-based tactics. If you missed the link above, click here: Rehab Centers and Referral Networks Go Direct
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the long-form DRTV sector for third-quarter 2016 results. A second consecutive quarterly decrease — this time, 10.6 percent — leaves long-form billings about 3 percent shy of their total during the first nine months of 2015. The culprit in 3Q 2016? Lower pricing, especially in the satellite and Hispanic outlets: overall, the average cost of a 28:30 block of time dropped by more than 15 percent. For a full look at 3Q 2016 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Pricing Decrease Keys 3Q Long-Form DRTV Billings Decline
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column welcomes you to the consumer journey focus the magazine and Expo will have for all of our performance-based marketing readers and attendees during the first half of 2017. And — as always — I ask for your feedback on not only the story, but on your idea of the consumer journey, as well. If you missed the link above, here it is: Join Us to Explore the Consumer Journey

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Dec 21

Response December: Another Year Done … from A to zulily

The December issue of Response hit the web and mailboxes beginning late last week. And in a random bout of timeliness — plus the fact that I’m out of the office this evening through Jan. 2 — I’m here to recap it for you. This issue’s features include a cover story on zulily, a piece on the expanding consumer electronics market, our fourth Response Advisory Board roundtable of the year, and a web exclusive on the DR radio space. For more on how we built 2016’s last issue, read on:

  • zulily (and, yes, the folks there are all about that lower-case “z,” y’all) has made a name for itself in the e-retail segment in recent years. Reaching a coveted demographic — mothers between 25-44 — helps. Quality marketers running the business don’t hurt, either. The company first came to my attention when a long-time industry colleague and friend, Chris Johns, took a gig in the company’s strategic partnerships division in 2015. After a couple of meetings (ahem, cocktails) and a couple of calls to the right people, Chris put me in touch with Lindsay Powers in the company’s PR department. Lindsay did a splendid job wrangling this story with me, from helping select the right executive — Kevin Saliba, the company’s vice president of strategic partnerships and business development —to providing contact with zulily partner Crayola to help flesh out the story. With more than 15,000 brands selling products on zulily, it’s an intriguing case study on today’s expanding e-retail environment. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Giving Moms What They Want
  • Consumer electronics technology is not only a burgeoning vertical for marketers — it’s also crucial to the delivery of every marketer’s message. Freelancer Pat Cauley did a nice job of walking this line in his update on the CE space. From AR to VR and AI to IoT (Confused? Read the story to find out what those abbreviations mean) marketers of products that use those technologies are finding fertile ground, while marketers in other verticals want to maximize those technologies as outlets for their messages. In case you skipped the link above: A Space Odyssey
  • In preparation for our final quarterly Advisors Forum feature, I spent a couple of days digging through researchers’ many (and varied) predictions for marketing — digital, TV, and beyond — for 2017. After culling those down to some of the more interesting projections, I provided the members of our Advisory Board a series of questions on the topics raised. This useful year-end exercise provided a some surprising — and conflicting — responses. As always, the online version of the Advisors Forum presents our board members’ complete and unabridged answers. Here’s that story link again: Parsing the Projections
  • Our Doug McPherson spoke with media leaders in the DR radio space for a web exclusive feature. After a downturn earlier this decade, media billings research has shown DR radio expanding healthily in recent years. What’s driving this growth in a medium that’s often scoffed at? If you missed the link above, click here: DR Radio Rocks the Reach
  • Speaking of DR radio media billings, our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the space for second-quarter 2016 results. Growth remains the buzzword, as an 11.7-percent increase over 2Q 2015 results led to radio’s best second quarter since 2007. For a full look at 2Q 2016 DR radio media billings, click here: DR Radio Billings Drive Forward in 2Q 2016
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • My Editor’s Note column leads with the big news: Response moved its offices — two whole miles — in late November (if you still need that new address: 2600 Michelson Drive, Suite, 1700, Irvine, CA 92612). From there, I riff a little about fresh starts, Response Expo, and reader feedback. It’s all very exciting! If you missed the link above, here it is: We’re Movin’ on Up!

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response throughout 2016! I wish you a happy holiday season and all the best in 2017.