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 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 Build.com, 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 Build.com, 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!

Jun 29

Response June: Vivarin Revived, Web Exclusive Content and More

RES0613_CV1_0The June issue of Response has been available online since early last week. Hopefully, if you’re one of our readers, you’ve taken a look at it, but — if not — here’s some back story on the cover feature on Meda Consumer Healthcare and Blake Hawley, as well as a number of the other key pieces in the issue:

  • June marks the third consecutive issue that our cover feature subject harkens from the pharmaceutical/supplements business — and also the third consecutive issue featuring a speaker from Response Expo 2013, as Blake Hawley and the team at Meda Consumer Healthcare are in the spotlight. Hawley spoke on a panel (with our May cover boy, Vitaquest’s Charles Mooney) at our event in early April, following an introduction from long-time Response Advisory Board member Mike Medico of E+M Advertising in New York. Her efforts in bringing legacy supplement brand Vivarin back into the market spotlight via a DRTV drive-to-Web and drive-to-retail couponing campaign are a great example of the power direct response can have in this vertical category. And Meda’s trusting Hawley to do much the same this summer for a brand that any TV viewer from the 1950s-1980s remembers well: Geritol. Here’s the link again, if you missed it above: Wake Up!
  • June also marks the return of an annual feature: our look at the home shopping space. As technology grows, the leaders in the space, such as QVC and HSN, are seeing their business become much more of a Web-based, data-driven, customer relationship model. At the same time, the success of the medium has drawn a new level of marketer to these networks in recent years, including Disney and Coca-Cola. It’s an intriguing read on a business that’s bursting at the seams. If you missed the link above, here it is: Home Shopping Comes of Age
  • The online edition of the June issue features a pair of Web Exclusive columns that did not appear in the print edition: Peter Koeppel of Koeppel Direct muses on second-screen research and the possibilities presented by the expansion of smartphone and tablet use, while Dial800‘s Scott Richards writes about the challenges — and some solutions — of the ever-expanding field of legal services advertisers in the local short-form DR space.
  • Our latest analysis of the DR industry’s quarterly media billings results circles back to DR radio billings’ 4Q 2012 results. Unlike both long-form and short-form DRTV results, both of which celebrated banner years, DR radio essentially broke even with 2011 when all was said and done. The fourth quarter’s 3.1 percent drop left total billings for the year off by less than 1 percent total. For a full look at all the categorical and outlet results, here’s the link: DR Radio Media Billings Slide 3.1 Percent in 4Q 2012
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note reflects on the growing power of direct, digital and data-driven marketing in the pharmaceutical and supplement space. With June marking our third consecutive month featuring a marketer from this space on the cover, it’s worth considering how the powerful combination of direct response, online and retail is pushing the vertical to new heights. If you missed the link to my the column above, here it is once again: Pharma/Supplement Marketers Provide Incredible Response Solutions

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!