Integrated Media: Maximize Your Investment
With return on investment (ROI) the name of the marketing game today, direct marketing has become an increasingly important and robust component of any advertiser's overall marketing mix.
When it comes to integrating direct media, however, it's critical that the focus be on developing a basis for future sales as opposed to simply owning the market for a brief moment. That said, there are three direct marketing approaches, each driven by specific marketing objectives, for striking a balance between immediate returnpure direct responseand sustainable growth.
The Multi-Media Blitz
The multi-media blitz is as it soundsan all-out deluge of consistent messaging pumped through a wide variety of channels, concurrently. While an aggressiveand higher-costapproach, it can appropriately support product or service launch campaigns, especially where there is little or no "brand" recognition. The blitz is a "campaign." As such, blitz performance is usually analyzed first in terms of total campaign performance, and then against individual media performance.
Multi-media blitzing can be an effective strategy if the number-one goal is immediate, broad-reaching market awareness, volume production, and/or near-term category dominance.
General advertisers are pros at the media blitz. Cingular's launch in the wireless category is a wonderful example. During the height of this campaign, you couldn't turn on the television, open your mail, read the newspaper, click on the Internet, or drive down the road without seeing that little orange dancing jack. The pure direct marketing blitz, however, integrates campaign awareness with media micro-management to balance qualitative and quantitative objectives. It combines "seeing" with "doing" to define success in marketing ROI terms.
The blitz also can be an effective approach when trying to reach a diverse audience with a product or service offering that is both accessible and affordable to a large segment of the general population. Properly managed, it can serve as an effective volume lead generation strategy, allowing one segment of the prospective audience to respond to targeted media, and another broader segment to "self-identify" through general media efforts.
Before embarking on a media blitz, ask these questions:
* What is the awareness level? Is this a new product or service launch?
* Can the brand be leveraged? Does the brand need more credibility? (If so, be prepared to put more media dollars toward this objective.)
* What is your desired competitive positionownership, parity or entry?
Media Layering (or "Blitz and Build")
The concept of layering media allows a marketer to establish and maintain a market presence while testing and refining efforts. The approach involves running one or two media, and then adding others methodically, being careful to ensure an acceptable ROI from each medium deployed.
The overriding benefits of a layering strategy are that a marketer can build immediate market position, quantify what's working where, build on successful applications and/or expand into other media, and reduce or eliminate under-performers. Media that work in a blitz scenario may fall off significantly without that interaction. As a result, building through additional mediamedia weightor refining through elimination or hiatus are critical components of media micro-management.
An example of "blitz and build" is to start with a heavy schedule of broad-reaching media, such as television, radio and print, for a period of weeks, and then follow with more targeted mail applications. The key to media layering is understanding the target audience composition and the product's promise. Is this a broad market product? Are there segments within the market that are highly targetable? Is credibility a challenge?
If the answer is yes to all, you might consider a layering strategy.
* Is the market for your product or service broad-based or highly defined? Is there an adequate level of pre-existing need and desire for the product or service? Are audience demographics critical for prospect identification?
* Is the product or service needs-driven or demographic-driven? Evaluate and select media based on the dominant driver.
* Can you offer cross-sell opportunities? Broadcast media, for example, often has difficulty succeeding if the product is not affordable to a large segment of the population, or if the marketer doesn't have alternatively priced products to offer.
* What is your competitive position? Look at competitors' spending by media and by market. This will help determine if you're at parity or a parity-plus (higher) standing while selecting media.
The third strategymedia intervalinghelps keep a presence in the market while methodically moving media in and out. Intervaling works best when the relative performance of each medium can be accurately projected, or a campaign position is strong enough to support ancillary testing "under the umbrella."
An ideal application for this approach is multiple-product testing. Say, for instance, a bank was promoting several financial services products concurrently. An interval strategy might consist of a broad-reaching mediumlike television or newspaperto establish and build the brand message, while direct mail could be used to target specific products (checking, CDs, etc.) to specific segments of the audience (existing customers, prospects, seniors, students, etc.).
Another intervaling strategy rotates the number and weight of media employed, based on seasonal marketing factors, timing of major brand campaigns, and/or geographic performance. Intervaling also allows lead generation to continue in one medium while tests in another are being analyzed and/or strategies refined.
A benefit of media intervaling is that marketers are better able to adjust resources, such as staffing and budget, as they work to build brand.
Knowing which strategy to deployblitz, layering or intervalingrequires an in-depth knowledge of the audience, the product or service, overall marketing goals, budget (including marketing allowable), and the competitive environment. It also demands media micro-management to accurately read and refine the performance of each media component.
Regardless of the multi-media approach adopted, it's important to consider and weigh each performance component in terms of quantity, quality and cost. For example, a qualitative objective may be to create awareness that generates response. Direct marketers need to remember that once broadcast and/or print media are selected, awareness and thus brand, become greater concerns. Broad market perception is created regardless of the primary quantitative objectives. A well-executed multi-media approach can effectively deliver both.
Bottom line: In the ROI game, direct advertisers and direct agencies play by the same rules.
Case Study: Integration in Action
In this example, a Web-based financial services company decided to launch a consumer version of its corporate site to offer automobile, life and home insurance. Its objectives were to:
* Develop rapid brand acceptance/awareness for the site, including name, logo, and personality.
* Deliver high volumes of site visitors, and generate quotes and sales at an acceptable cost.
* Demonstrate that a consumer-oriented site could develop and maintain visibility in the marketplace in terms of audience appeal (visitors) and also generate revenue (sales).
The Creative Approach: After creating and establishing a brand personality and defining the target consumer, the next step was to develop a creative approach. The creative approach here focused on a two-pronged selling strategy that would first generate traffic by offering competitive auto insurance quotes, and then sell the site as an umbrella solution for getting the best deal in a vast array of financial services.
Media Plan: The media plan consisted of a staged approach to testing direct response television (DRTV), first in local cable markets and then broadened to national coverage. The auto insurance strategy consisted of a DRTV test, self-mailer and free-standing inserts. The umbrella strategy included one DRTV spotwhich lead the campaign and set the stage for brand awarenessdirect mail and print ads in several national financial- and Internet-related publications.
The Results: As a result of media layering, the Web site generated more than 1.2 million hits within 45 days with higher-than-anticipated quotes and greater-than-industry-average policy conversions. Behind the numbers, the campaign struck a balance between building brand awareness and driving sales via the Webwith an effective media integration strategy at the core of its success. Cingular blitzed the public with its logo and dancing jack "mascot" for its launch at the turn of the century; brand awareness was a primary objective, but response was urged, too.
Linda Reed is senior vice president, strategic planning and program development, for DMW. DMW is a full-service direct response advertising agency with offices in Wayne, PA, and Boston, MA. The agency provides strategic planning, creative, database management, broadcast, media, production, fulfillment and Web site promotion. Industries served include consumer products, financial services, B-to-B, non-profit, healthcare and insurance. You can reach Reed at (610) 407-0407 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.