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 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!

Dec 01

Response October: Better Late Than Never

Response October 2016Considering that Response’s November issue hit the web and mailboxes in the past two weeks, you’d be right in thinking, “Why’s he recapping the October issue now?” I’ll tell you this: it isn’t for lack of effort. Things have been crazy around the Response offices of late: our new DRMA Committees are in full swing, planning for Response Expo 2017 is underway in earnest, and preparation of our annual Preferred Partner Directory for its December debut was, as always, time-consuming. Today, though, I finally found some wiggle room to dig into an October issue that featured the winner of the eighth annual DRMA Marketer of the Year Award, the second part of our biannual media buying and planning guide, a look at the automotive marketing scene, and more. Read on to look back:

  • In one of the closer races in the eight-year history of the competition, Nutrisystem was announced as the winner of the 2016 DRMA Marketer of the Year Award on Sept. 14 in Las Vegas. Vistaprint finished second in the voting, with Adore Me, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and AIG finishing behind them in that order. Stacie Mullen, Nutrisystem’s vice president of celebrity management, was on hand to accept the award — and could not have been more personable and thankful. And she was outstanding to all involved while posing for the cover story photography with Vistaprint’s Peter Tardif and others while overlooking the Vegas Strip from Drai’s Rooftop Nightclub at The Cromwell. For more on the competition — and the victors — and if you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: A Big Victory — by the Slimmest of Margins
  • Freelancer Doug McPherson took on our annual look at the automotive market. And while high-tech, performance-based tools like augmented reality (AR) and interactive games are taking hold — which makes sense as an intriguing adjunct to the traditional test drive —a number of those in the space, from car manufacturers to car dealers and aftermarket goods marketers — are still finding success with more traditional media. Even print! Here’s that story link again: Fueling Sales
  • Expanding TV technology. Video content everywhere. Second-screen messaging. Expanding mobile response. In the second media buying and planning guide feature of 2016, long-time contributor Nicole Urso Reed queried leaders from the agency side of the business about key 2016 topics, such as the effects of political and Olympic advertising, and what’s coming in 2017 and beyond. Technological shifts that impact the empowered consumer’s journey to purchase lead both the challenge and the opportunity lines. Just in case you skipped the link above: Rolling With the Changes
  • In the third of our series of features on the back-end vendor services space (in August, we touched on payment processing, with teleservices covered in September), our Doug McPherson spoke with a trio of leaders in the fulfillment space. Talk about a business that’s changed — especially thanks to consumers’ Amazon-driven expectations for immediate delivery, constant communication, and easy returns. Read more about the current state of fulfillment here: Providing Product
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the long-form DRTV space for second-quarter 2016 results. For the first time in a year, long-form suffered a (minor) setback, dropping $11.4 million from 2Q 2015 results. However, much of that decrease can be attributed to a continuing decline in cable outlet pricing — and who, on the agency side, is complaining about that? In fact, total time slots purchased were up 8.4 percent, while spending in the top-30 DMAs also jumped. For a full look at 2Q 2016 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form DRTV Billings Send Mixed Messages in 2Q 2016
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
    • A DRMA Spotlight story on Z Living, and its expanded slate of new programming designed to reach key demos across an array of platforms.
    • The But Wait, There’s More page features a bevy of photos from the packed DRMA Marketer of the Year event in Las Vegas.
  • Finally, the topic for my Editor’s Note column was a no-brainer: the October issue is the first of Response‘s 25th year in business. And while I was a junior in college when that first issue published in 1992, it almost feels like I’ve been here the whole damned time. Mostly, though, it felt like a time to reflect on that history, my role in it, and my goals each day. If you missed the link above, here it is: Happy Anniversary to Us!

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!