Adding DRTV to the Mix
Thinking Outside the MailBox to Boost Direct Mail and Catalog Response Rates
By Norman M. Goldring
With postal rates continuing to increase faster than the rate of inflation, it's a great time to consider complementing your direct mail program with direct response television (DRTV) advertising. DRTV—which gained notoriety in the 1970s with half-hour infomercials that ran in the middle of the night hawking everything from Ginzu knives to the latest exercise fad—has come of age and now is used by many mainstream advertisers. Today, such well-known companies as Spiegel, AT&T and Rubbermaid employ direct response television spots to cost-effectively build sales, generate leads and lift direct mail response rates. According to The Direct Marketing Association, last year U.S. companies invested $22 billion in DRTV advertising, almost 40 percent of all TV advertising expenditures.
The allure of DRTV lies in that it provides an extremely cost-effective and measurable way to reach a highly targeted audience. Both broadcast and cable networks accept 30-second, 60-second and 120-second direct response commercials at considerably discounted rates. In fact, direct response spots can usually be purchased for half the cost of traditional spots and are often discounted as much as 80 percent. To qualify for these deeply discounted direct response rates your commercial must contain a call to action and a phone number. Nearly all networks and stations now allow direct response advertisers to include a Web site address as well.
The reason networks offer discounted rates for direct response spots is because they run direct response spots in time slots they are not able to sell to traditional advertisers at traditional rates. This means your commercial will run pending availability, can be pre-empted without notice and carries none of the audience guarantees normally offered to advertisers paying higher rates.
Keep in mind when buying direct response spots that the final rate can be negotiated. You will fare far better if you work with an agency that specializes in direct response and has the know-how to secure rates that will work for your campaign. Likewise, use direct response TV professionals to create your commercial to ensure you are getting the benefit of tried and true experience. Contrary to what traditional ad agencies might like to believe, producing a direct response commercial that moves consumers to respond is part art, part science and considerably different from creating award winning "image" commercials.