Aug 04

Response July: Digital (Focus). Digital (TV). Digital (Creative).

I decided to take a quick Friday break from working up the August and September issues of Response — summer can be a great time to catch up, after all — to recap our recently delivered (and posted) July issue. Along with this month’s cover story — an interview with Tumi/Samsonite C-level executive Charlie Cole — the issue includes features on the shifting market for entertainment content and our annual look at what’s new in the video production space. Let’s dig into how these stories — and other facets of the issue — came together.

  • July’s cover feature got its start in a conference room at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort in February. There, at the eTail West event in Palm Desert, Calif., Charlie Cole — then merely chief digital offer for Tumi, who’s since added the title of global chief e-commerce officer for its parent company Samsonite — gave a presentation about his company’s digital marketing and measurement efforts during the past two years. His no-nonsense talk was impressive, and the story it told about Tumi’s efforts was one I wanted to know more about. I reached out to Cole after returning from the event to gauge his interest in a story — and he responded quickly. An open book throughout the process, Cole was one of the more refreshing cove subjects I’ve worked with in recent years. Unsurprisingly, then, the story — just a slice of how Tumi/Samsonite is tackling the great e-commerce revolution — feels like fresh air at a time when marketing and technology teams tend to find themselves at loggerheads more often than necessary. If you missed the link above, here it is once again: Digital Determination
  • What TV will look like three, five — or, god forbid, 10 — years from now is anyone’s guess. Our freelancer Nicole Urso Reed took the assignment for our annual look at marketing in the entertainment space and decided to poke around for answers to that question, as well as what those changes might mean for marketers who’ve long given TV the largest cut of their budgets. From mobile and online video to over-the-top (OTT) and video-on-demand (VOD), the possibilities are exciting. Oh, and Nicole’s headline nod to one of my favorite Dr. Dre songs certainly doesn’t hurt. In case you skipped the link above: The Next Episode
  • Those different possibilities are also driving changes across the video production space, as our freelancer Bridget McCrea continued to learn in her latest look at the production and creative space. Speaking with a half-dozen experts, McCrea finds that different ad lengths — yes, all the way up to a half-hour — still work, depending on the product, the target, and the media outlet. How are producers changing how they do things based on these opportunities? Here’s that story link again: Creative Leverage
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings enter the 2017 calendar year with a look at first-quarter long-form DRTV results. A market that’s lost ground in nine of the past 10 years started 2017 in similar fashion, dropping nearly 12 percent in comparison to its 1Q 2016 totals. However, the problem doesn’t seem to be availability of half-hour spots but rather the gaining power of the lower-cost broadcast and satellite markets at the cost of the contracting cable network sector. As cable pricing continues to fall to compete, overall spending results continue to dip. For a full look at 1Q 2017 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form DRTV Billings Start 2017 on the Wrong Foot
  • The July issue also includes a number of strong submissions in our column well:
  • My Editor’s Note column got its first inspiration from the wide array of music I listen to each day at my desk (currently playing: The Hold Steady‘s “How a Resurrection Really Feels”) and how important great songs (and great songwriting) are in my everyday life. At its essence, great songwriting is great storytelling. Somehow, in fewer than 500 words — with a well-deserved (and, sure, gratuitous) shot at “bro country” included — I get from there to a brief exposition on Response‘s ongoing transition. If you missed the link above, here it is: A Change in Focus Doesn’t Mean a Change in How We Tell Stories

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Oct 01

Response August: Art Dealers, Financial Feelers and Media Healers

Response AugustWith a travel schedule like ours lately, it’s been a bear just to get the actual work done, let alone share thoughts on the two most recent issues of Response! So here I am at 11:30 on a Tuesday night, typing away about the August issue of Response, nearly a month-and-a-half after it hit the Web and most mailboxes. Nonetheless, let’s take a quick look back at the issue, including the cover feature on the intriguing team behind New Era HD and Gallery Direct, our annual look at the financial services market and more.

  • Response Advisory Board member Fern Lee of THOR Associates deserves much credit for re-linking me with Mitch Bader, CEO of Austin, Texas-based New Era HD and Gallery Direct, an online leader in providing fine art solutions to businesses and consumers. I’d met Bader several years back when he worked closely with industry teleservices legend Steve Pittendrigh at InPulse Response Group. A financial wizard, Bader teamed in 2012 with art expert Nick Nichols, who co-founded New Era back in 2000 to expand the company’s consumer facing entity, Gallery Direct. Together, the duo has used various facets of direct response marketing — especially digitally — to build that consumer art business while, at the same time, strengthening the B-to-B efforts of New Era. Now, the team is looking to add DRTV to its mix to drive traffic to its E-commerce sites. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Marketing a Masterpiece
  • The financial services space has been one of the direct, digital and data-driven marketing world’s most reliable verticals for years. And with the continued growth of the serve-yourself consumer universe found on the Internet, marketers in the banking, insurance and investment spaces are continually doubling down on their use of direct metrics to drive new customers as well as remarket to existing clients. What’s new in the space? If you didn’t click the link above, here’s another chance: Running With the Bulls
  • Just two years ago, product marketer Rob Albert and production whiz Frank Battisti formed Grand Slam Direct just outside San Diego. Though the soft-spoken and personable Battisti says his learning curve in helping to direct the new business has been steep, this month’s DRMA Spotlight shows that the duo is pushing all the right buttons. I recently was part of a group dinner that also included Albert and Battisti and when you listen to them speak about the business, as well as their hopes for the direct response industry as a whole, you understand pretty quickly where their long-term successes come from — and where their future direction may take them. For more on Grand Slam Direct, click here: Hitting a Marketing & Production Home Run
  • As the headline for this month’s direct response TV and radio media billings story reads: finally, a glimmer of hope! The short-form DRTV market expanded for the first time in more than a year in first-quarter 2014, gaining $80.1 million (9.2 percent) — earning back a huge chunk of 1Q 2013’s drastic losses. A key to the quarter’s success: the quickly expanding U.S. Hispanic marketplace, which surpassed one-quarter of all dollars spend in short-form DRTV. And marketers were happy to invest big dollars in winning products during 1Q 2014, as spending among the top 40 products for the quarter expanded more than 27 percent. To take a deeper look at 1Q 2014 short-form DRTV billings, click here: Finally, A Glimmer of Hope
  • Last but not least, the numbers keep rolling in on the power of the mobile consumer. While much has been discussed about how to reach consumers effectively with mobile marketing, the fact is that the key to mobile is its use as a consumer response tool. To that end, my Editor’s Note attempts to put some of the most recent research results about the mobile world into perspective. To read my full take, here’s the link once again: Reach + Responsiveness Will Make TV and Mobile a Dynamic Duo

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Jan 13

Response December: Christmas Trees, IMS’ Annual Rankings and a Little Bit of AP

Though the December issue of Response has been available online since prior to the holiday break, it’s time for a quick look back before we move along into 2014. Hopefully, if you’re one of our readers, you’ve taken a good look at the issue, but — if not — here’s some back story on the cover feature highlighting Balsam Brands entrepreneur Thomas Harman, as well as a number of the other key pieces in the issue:

  • THOR Associates’ Fern Lee, a member of our Response Advisory Board, can take great credit for the timeliness of our December cover story about Redwood City, Calif.-based Balsam Brands and its dip into the DRTV waters for its Balsam Hill line of high-end artificial Christmas trees. Harman, a business leader with a great entrepreneurial spirit and vision, founded Balsam Hill as an E-retailer in 2006 and saw the company grow exponentially in its early years. But after what might be called a slight misstep into DRTV in late 2012, the Balsam Brands team connected with THOR on a much more well prepared and researched campaign for the 2013 holiday season. If you missed the link above, here it is once again: ‘O, Christmas Tree …’
  • For the 12th consecutive year, IMS has provided its exclusive list of the top 50 long-form and top 50 short-form DRTV campaigns of the year to Response! Once again, health-and-fitness, housewares and beauty products are among the leaders in both categories. The IMS team also provides an intriguing look back at the top 5 long-form products for the past 10 years, and — for the first time — a look at the U.S. Hispanic market. Of course, you’re probably just asking yourself, “Who’s No. 1?” Well, if you missed the link above, click here to find out: The IMS Top 50 Infomercials and Spots of 2013
  • AP’s Bruce and Robin Stone.

    This month, the DRMA Spotlight is turned on Simi Valley, Calif., call center Applied Perceptions. Founded by husband-and-wife team Bruce and Robin Stone in 2001, AP — as they often call it — prides itself on being a profit center for clients, due to its powerfully specialized agent corps and ability to provide both sales and customer service capabilities for marketers of all shapes and sizes. If you missed the link above to this special update, click here: Built From the Ground Up. If you’d like to watch the video interview I conducted with Bruce Stone, click here: DRMA Spotlight Video — Applied Perceptions

  • The 2Q 2013 DR radio media billings results, provided by Kantar Media, finally provided a small ray of hope to what’s been a troubled media landscape throughout much of the year. The market was up an impressive 22.8 percent for the quarter, which made it DR radio’s best second quarter in six years. For a full look at all the categorical and outlet results, here’s the link: 2Q 2013 DR Radio Media Billings Rise 22.8 Percent
  • My final Editor’s Note of the year seeks to sound a call to marketers across the direct, digital and data-driven landscape to look ahead — not back — and use the power of their position to help drive the new marketing universe. It’s unimaginable to me how often I hear folks in our world yearn out loud for the simpler times of the past — the good old “As Seen On TV” days — rather than focusing on how they can best be positioned to not only take advantage of new technologies to improve their businesses, but actually take their experiences and become the leaders they should be in this new age of consumer-driven marketing. If you missed it above, here’s the link: DR Marketers Must Choose the Future

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!