Nov 11

Response October: Marketer of the Year, Media Feedback and Much More

Response October 2014It’s been about three weeks since Response’s October issue hit the website. While many of you have likely taken a gander at the issue, whether online or in print, let’s take a quick look at how it all came together — from the cover story on our DRMA Marketer of the Year finalists and winner to some of the other key ingredients.

  • For the sixth consecutive year, Response and the Direct Response Marketing Alliance hosted a massive networking event in Las Vegas to announce the winner of the annual Marketer of the Year award, decided in an industry-wide vote. The party, on Sept. 17 at Drai’s in Las Vegas, was the biggest and best yet — with nearly 1,000 attendees enjoying the Strip’s hottest new club of 2014. Prior to the big announcement, we debuted the annual DRMA video, which included dozens of industry leaders donning their “superhero” best during filming at Response Expo this past spring. Through all the pomp ad circumstance — and not a few cocktails — the finalists and winner of the 2014 honor were announced, with Tristar Products taking home the big award and 2013 winner Euro-Pro tying Zumba Fitness for second place in the competition’s closest voting ever. If you’d like to read more about the winner (and finalists) and the campaigns that earned them the industry’s recognition, here’s the link: The Stars Align!
  • Twice a year, we take a hard, feature-length look at the media buying and planning space. In our fall version, we hear more clearly from the buyers’ perspective (in the spring, we usually focus on the perspective of the cable and broadcast media outlets). In this month’s edition, talk of the omnichannel marketing world dominates, with media buyers and sellers going in depth on how to reach consumers in a fragmenting TV universe. While opportunities abound thanks to technology, attribution in campaigns has become more and more difficult. Where did that sale come from, anyway? However, these experts do know one thing — all of those fancy metrics you hear digital media experts kicking around these days got their start with the advent of direct response TV. If you didn’t click the link above, here’s another chance: A Brighter Outlook
  • This month’s DRMA Spotlight revisits Cannella Response Television. The media agency, with locations in Los Angeles and Burlington, Wis., continues to grow from its leadership role in the long-form DRTV space. President Tony Besasie and CEO Rob Medved sat down for a video interview with me in the company’s Wisconsin offices in August to discuss a number of topics, including growth into the short-form buying space and some surprising results from a DRTV consumer study the company worked on with California-based Script to Screen and M2 Marketing. To read the Spotlight story, click here: Keeping an Edge. To view the video interview with Besasie and Medved, click here: DRMA Spotlight Video: Cannella Response Television
  • In our monthly look at direct response TV and radio media billings, we turn the spotlight on second-quarter 2014 long-form DRTV results, which continued to struggle, losing 6.4 percent from results during the same time period in 2013. However, there were some positive signs — lower costs meant the number of half-hour time slots purchased actually rose, and the U.S. Hispanic marketplace continued to show steady growth across the board. To take a deeper look at 2Q 2014 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form Media Billings Fall 6.4 Percent in 2Q 2014
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column this month takes on some of the topics bandied about in the media buying and planning guide feature mentioned above. In the competitive landscape for marketing dollars today, it’s not enough for media leaders who are well schooled in the direct response space to sit on those laurels. DR media leaders have a significant strategic advantage over both traditional media agencies and digital media agencies — they’ve understood the metrics of attribution for a much longer time than both. To read the column, here’s the link once again: It’s Not Your Father’s MER

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Aug 12

Response July: Zumba’s Success, Processors Profess, Billings Recess

Response JulyMuch to the dismay of our error-prone printers, the July issue of Response has been available online for more than two weeks now, though I know it just started hitting many of your mailboxes last week. Let’s take a look at the issue, including the cover feature on the geniuses behind fitness behemoth Zumba, our annual look at the entertainment market and more.

  • When Alberto Perlman teamed with legendary trainer Beto Perez and fellow entrepreneur Alberto Aghion in 2001 to bring Perez’s workouts from their birthplaces of Colombia and South Florida to the world, there was no way they could have known that Zumba Fitness would become the world’s largest fitness brand. But, it has — with customers in 180 countries, more than 25 million DVDs sold and more than 200,000 fitness locations worldwide offering Zumba workouts. It’s also been a story I’ve been digging to tell in the pages of Response for some time now. Finally, thanks to Brian Comstock, the company’s DR marketing guru, and Aly Robins, its PR leader, we were finally able to track down the fast-moving Perlman for this exclusive feature. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: The Zumba Revolution
  • As the average consumer’s options for entertainment expand — all the way to watching (and perhaps buying from) an online video on the smartphone in the palm of your hand — the options that same expansion have given marketers have served only to add to the fragmentation of the consumer base? What to do? Well, no one has all the answers, but Pat Cauley put together a strong piece for us that touches on multi-screen engagement, content distribution and data management. If you didn’t click the link above, here’s another chance: Entertainment Epiphanies
  • Our DRMA Spotlight feature returned in July — after a brief hiatus — as payment processing leader Vantiv opted to tell its story to fellow DRMA members and Response readers. Elizabeth Rector, Vantiv’s senior vice president and general manager, spoke about the 40-year-old business, perhaps best known to our readers as the company that bought long-time direct response processing leader Litle & Co. about two years ago. For more on Vantiv and its focus on customer service and technological solutions, click here: The Vantiv Advantage
  • Hopes for a flying start in 2014 media billings results didn’t last long. Unfortunately, first-quarter 2014 direct response TV and radio media billings got off to another slow start — after a generally dismal 2013 — in the long-form DRTV market. First-quarter billings eerily mirrored results in 1Q 2013, as the long-form space lost $24.2 million (9.2 percent). This drop caused 1Q long-form billings to slip below the quarter-billion dollar mark for the first time in 10 years. Positives were limited — time slots purchased only fell by 1.1 percent, as the cable market rebounded from some of its 2013 issues — but we won’t know what direction the long-form space is truly headed until 2Q results come in. For now, to take a deeper look at 1Q 2014 long-form DRTV billings, click here: The Struggle Continues for Long-Form in 1Q 2014
  • Finally, this issue includes various takes on the role of payment processors in the direct, digital and data-driven marketing space (beyond the DRMA Spotlight on Vantiv, there was also a short feature on the space, as well as a column about fast-paced changes in processing). Therefore, it should be no surprise that my Editor’s Note touches on the truth that “if consumers know about your payment processor … something’s likely gone wrong.” To read my full take, here’s the link once again: Wherever the Order Comes From, It’s Still About Getting Paid

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

May 19

Response April: Murad Meets Consumers, Hall of Famers Speak Out, and a Note About Trudeau

Response April 2014The April issue of Response has been available online since shortly before Response Expo, which took place about three weeks ago. But, with the craziness surrounding the Expo and some immediate deadlines for the upcoming May issue following closely on its heels, there hasn’t been much time for me to share an inside look at the issue. However, with the May issue now out the door (and on its way to our readers soon!), I had a moment today to catch up and take a deeper look at April’s book, including the cover feature highlighting Murad, our roundtable with the 2014 DR Hall of Fame inductees, two DRMA Spotlight stories and a rather pointed Editor’s Note column.

  • In early 2007, I interviewed Dr. Howard Murad about his line of skin care products and how the brand had used direct response marketing to build its consumer base and recognition. Seven years later, with the brand still flourishing and a pair of its marketing executives set to speak at Response Expo, we decided it was time to see how Murad’s marketing has changed with the times. Unsurprisingly, Marina Randolph — executive vice president of direct for the Southern California-based company — and the rest of the Murad team have expanded the company’s marketing arsenal to work in today’s consumer-controlled landscape. Quite simply, it’s an omnichannel world and — as a marketer — Murad is representative not only of those in the beauty and personal care space, but all marketers who are combining direct, digital and data-driven efforts to keep pace. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Getting Better Every Day
  • 74899Again tying in with Response Expo, we were able to catch up with the nine living members of the second class of the DR Hall of Fame. The group, which also included posthumous inductee Billy Mays, is truly a who’s-who of direct response history, and each of them was saluted wonderfully by more than 400 attendees at the induction ceremony in San Diego on May 1. Don’t miss these legends thoughts — if you didn’t click the link above, here’s another chance: The Pioneering Spirit!
  • The growing influence of retail sales — be it in store or online — is the subject of this month’s edition of the Response Advisors Forum. Not only do the members of our vaunted Advisory Board kick around the challenges and opportunities that keep growing in the omnichannel marketplace, but the online version of the story is a Web exclusive: the full, unabridged answers from each member of the Board. If you missed the link above, here it is once again: An Old Foe Becomes a Best Friend
  • The hits in this issue just keep coming as there are two DRMA Spotlight stories — a two-page feature on Maine-based Argo Marketing Group and a one-page Q&A with Phoenix-based Higher Power Marketing. The interview with Argo’s Jason Levesque actually took place in a cabana at the Loews South Beach Resort in Miami Beach in February. Argo’s growth during the past decade has been spectacular and Levesque has an understanding of where the market is headed. To read the story, click here: Growing Smiles on Customers’ Faces. To watch the video interview with Levesque, shot in Miami, click here: DRMA Spotlight Video — Argo Marketing Group. The genesis for the one-pager on Higher Power happened during a meeting for coffee in Scottsdale while the Response team was on a business trip in the Phoenix area. Peter Feinstein has a solid track record in the space and his thoughts about where his company and the business are going are intriguing. Take a look by clicking here: ‘Commerce With a Conscience’
  • Barry Jacobs: leader, mentor, friend.

    Barry Jacobs: leader, mentor, friend.

    As we closed in on the Expo, there was a big push for exposure in our monthly Field Reports news section. Along with some big industry news — Kevin Trudeau’s 10-year jail sentence; Twitter jumping into DR — three Q&As highlight the section. We were able to spend some time with Havas Edge‘s Jack Kirby about the consumer-centric marketing world (seeing a trend here, anyone?) and how marketers and agencies can best work together. We also had a chat with Top Dog Direct‘s Bill McAlister about the lifeblood of the business — product inventors. Finally, and most personally rewarding, I was able to sit down over a lunch with long-time media agency executive Barry Jacobs. Jacobs — a mentor and a friend — retired from full-time duty in the business (and from Mercury Media) following Response Expo. While he’s still taking on projects here and there, he’s doing so from the comforts of home after 55 years of helping shape the direct marketing world. Don’t miss these great Q&As and more — click here to take a look: Field Reports April

  • Mercifully, we’ve reached the last quarter of direct response TV and radio media billings results. Fourth-quarter long-form DRTV billings results mirrored the entire year for the 28:30 marketplace: 4Q results were off 5.3 percent, leaving the year down 5.7 percent. For the first time since 2004, long-form DRTV cumulative media billings failed to top $1 billion as more and more marketers seem to have raised spending in the lower-cost satellite space at the cost of the higher-priced cable market. For more on 4Q long-form DRTV billings from Response, click here: 4Q 2013 Long-Form DRTV Media Results Round Out Somber Year
  • Lastly, my Editor’s Note represents the difference between reporting and opinion journalism — a difference that the 24-hour news channels have sullied to the point of near invisibility. As noted above, we covered the facts of the sentencing of long-time DR industry burden Kevin Trudeau to 10 years in federal prison in the news section. But in this space (one designed specifically for opinion), I expressed the disdain of many in the business — based on many notes I received prior to this column’s publication and many more received after — for Trudeau’s continued negative influence on the good names of hundreds of marketers who have used direct response marketing in an ethical and successful way. Suffice it to say, I’m disappointed to see products using Trudeau the pitchman still on the air. And I’m not alone. To read my full take on the topic, here’s the link once again: Trudeau Story Points the Finger at ‘Self-Regulation’ … Again

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!