Oct 13

Response September: 25 Years Down and a Transition to Come

Following on the heels of my August recap, here’s a look at Response‘s September issue — the last issue of our 25th year of publication and the final issue prior to the brand refresh we’ve been working on in recent weeks. Appropriately, then, the issue is led by a cover story about a traditional direct-to-consumer marketer also celebrating its 25th anniversary: Tristar Products. Beyond that, September’s book includes a look at marketing in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market, a piece on the power of video marketing (no matter the medium) driving the convergence of media, technology, and commerce, and our 22nd annual State of the Industry report. Let’s take a look at how these — and other stories — came together to form this transitional issue.

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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

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Jun 06

Response May: Foundations, Revelations, and Exhortations

On the road again … heading to Chicago this afternoon for the IRCE event this week, and had some time to put together a quick recap of Response‘s May issue. With a full look back at Response Expo included, the issue delivered a touch later than normal — but the editorial content is worth the wait. The May magazine is headed by a cover story on one of our most well-received speakers at the Expo, Andrew Lermsider. Other features touch on the business solutions market and the current status of the media buying and planning space. That second story leads into our annual Cable Network Directory, which is our biggest one yet! There’s plenty for our readers to chew on this month, and here’s some background on how the pieces fit:

  • My first contact with Lermsider came via a LinkedIn introduction from Rus Sarnoff, who has long served as a close advisor on our Expo content and now co-chairs (with Greg Sarnow) our DRMA Education Committee. Shortly after the introduction, I learned that Sarnow had worked with Lermsider on a project several years back, and Greg had only glowing things to say. After one call with Lermsider, not only was I sure I wanted him to take part in our “Social Media as a Media Outlet” panel that was planned for the Expo (and, coincidentally, moderated by Sarnow), but that his background and vision for the future of performance-based marketing tactics would make a great cover story. He’s currently CMO and partner in Q Link Wireless, a mobile service provider, while also consulting a number of mid- and large-sized businesses on their marketing efforts. At 6.5 print pages, this is one of the longer cover stories in Response in recent years — but with Lermsider’s openness about the world of marketing and how he sees it unfolding, it probably could have been two to three pages longer. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Funnels and Foundations
  • Our most recent look at the burgeoning business solutions market kicks off with one of our top sources — and one of the top marketers in the space — for the past couple years: Wix.com. Vivian Hernandez, a speaker at the past two Response Expos, gives an update on the build-your-own-website service’s latest marketing moves and how driving customer experience on a local level is helping the brand grow globally. Beyond that, freelance writer Doug McPherson, touched base with leaders from service providers BigCommerce and SmartPrint to hear what’s working — and what’s not — on today’s marketing landscape. In case you skipped the link above: Stay Local, Get Global
  • Our semiannual look at the media buying and planning world queries leaders from the TV network world on how TV and digital continue to mix and merge, especially with the growth of over-the-top (OTT) and TV Everywhere services. Freelancer Nicole Urso Reed once again gets to the heart of what marketers need to know about where the best media opportunities are available. Here’s that story link again: Power Play
  • Once again, Response brings readers its annual Cable Network Directory. With contact and demographic information for more than 140 networks and other TV outlets, this is our biggest directory yet — and we actually send out requests for information to nearly 200 networks/groups. This year’s directory, if you missed it above, is here: 2017 Cable Network Directory
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the short-form DRTV sector for fourth-quarter 2016 results. A huge quarterly increase — nearly 40 percent compared to 4Q 2015 results — helped the short-form space finish 2016 down just 2.6 percent from total-year 2015 results. Back-to-back positive quarters seem to be a sign that the space is finally stabilizing after a long string of losses. For a full look at 4Q 2016 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: Short-Form DRTV Billings Close 2016 on the Rise
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column picks up where our publisher, John Yarrington, left off in his welcome remarks to Expo attendees just before Sugar Ray Leonard’s keynote address on April 25. It’s also of a piece with Wilkins’ column linked above. While we’re thrilled to have created a true signpost event for our industry — Response Expo — that event is only as good as our readers, attendees, advertisers, sponsors, and exhibitors make it. And while it’s a great feeling to know we’ve filled a half-dozen hotels in San Diego with leaders from the business, if too many folks set up shop in those alternate locations, Response Expo cannot be at its best. As a matter of fact, if too many come to San Diego without feeling the need to take part in the actual Expo itself, the Expo could eventually go away — taking its signpost and everything that draws 4,000 people to San Diego with it. Being the change starts with being a part of what makes our business great. If you missed the link above, here it is: Why Fear Change? Instead, ‘Be the Change’

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!