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!

Aug 23

Response August: Annuity.com, the ‘Super Feature’ and Short-Form Struggles

Response August 2013The August issue of Response has been available online for a couple of weeks now. 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 Annuity.com and Bill Broich, as well as a number of the other key pieces in the issue:

  • August’s cover feature on Annuity.com returns the magazine to one of the evergreen spaces in the new world of direct, digital and data-driven marketing: the financial services sector. Thanks to the team at Karlin+Pimsler — the creative agency that built Annuity.com’s short-form TV campaign — and its PR agent, Lauren de la Fuente, I was able to connect with Annuity.com’s co-founder Bill Broich. The company’s story of educating consumers about annuities and driving responses to the right agents is an intriguing one for any marketer interested in using direct response. Here’s the link again, if you missed it above: A Safe Boom
  • Every August, we include a feature that, way back when, we used to refer to in-house as the “Support Services Super Feature.” Today, this compendium of information about the goings-on in the teleservices, fulfillment and payment processing corners of the marketing world is known as the “Annual Support Services Update.” I know, I think “Super Feature” sounds kind of awesome in retrospect, too! In any case, we canvassed some of the leaders in this space about what’s hot and new in 2013. As usual, for these oft-forgotten services, there is much to learn for marketers and front-end agencies alike. If you missed the link above, here it is: Powerful Triad Helps Create Successful Direct Campaigns
  • The bad news continued in our latest analysis of the DR industry’s quarterly media billings results. Taking a look at short-form DRTV billings’ 1Q 2013 results, a $185 million loss (17.5 percent) from the same quarter a year previous is obviously not the way the market wanted to kick off the new year. Falling below $900 million in total billings, the short-form market finds itself in a spot it hasn’t since 2006. For a full look at all the categorical and outlet results, here’s the link: Short-Form DRTV Billings Crash in the First Quarter
  • My Editor’s Note circles back to the power financial services marketers are wielding in the direct, digital and data driven space. Beyond the Annuity.com cover story and the financial services market feature in this issue, Response has featured financial services marketers — like this one and this one and this one — on its cover time and again in recent years. What does it all mean? If you missed the link to my the column above, here it is once again: Financial Services Marketers Lead the Way Into New Era

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!