Media Potpourri (989 words)
If an offer works in the States, it will likely do well in the United Kingdom. However, the media used to convey your message may vary across the Atlantic. While the supply of U.K. lists continue to grow along with demand, a grab bag of media also helps direct marketers acquire U.K. consumers.
Britons enjoy 20 national newspapers and countless regional and city dailies. These papers are full of ads, 86 percent of which carry a direct response mechanism, whether it be a coupon or a telephone number. Newspapers also contain a variety of free-standing inserts (FSIs)—either single stand-alone sheets or standard acquisition catalogs. Print media has a tremendous reach. In the U.K., 64 percent of the population reads at least one national Sunday paper.
Another medium that has seen growth is direct response television (DRTV). While only three channels accept advertising, DRTV will grow as cable, satellite and digital television increase penetration and bring down the cost of airtime.
Here's a look at three U.S. direct marketers who—with the help of The UKAMS Group, a full-service U.K. direct marketing agency—altered their media plans to adapt to the U.K. market.
Telebrands started promoting its unique range of "As Seen on TV" products in the U.K. in 1990. But as is common with many overseas companies moving into the U.K., its marketing strategy had to be adapted to work within a different media environment.
In the U.S., Telebrands built its business using direct response television to sell its products. Print advertising and direct mail were considered to be of secondary importance. However, when Telebrands first came to the U.K. very few mail-order advertisers used DRTV; there were only two commercial stations, and airtime prices were high.
By contrast, Telebrands found a very diverse and competitive national newspaper market, where remnant space could be purchased at substantial discounts. With the help of UKAMS, it created national newspaper ads to sell its most successful TV products off-the-page. Fulfillment was handled locally through UKAMS' sister company US Eurolink, with data capture and management by Eurolink Data Management.
As the media scene in the U.K. has continued to change with the emergence of more satellite and cable channels, so has Telebrand's strategy.
When Telebrands first came to the U.K., less than a million homes had access to either satellite or cable TV. Seven years later, approximately six million homes have access, plus one more commercial terrestrial channel (Channel 5) has surfaced. The increase in the supply of airtime has made it much more affordable, and Telebrands is now leading the way in short-form mail-order advertising on TV.
This summer is due to see the arrival of digital television. It is anticipated that this new development will further increase the market penetration of new commercial TV stations that have sprung up in recent years.
Carol Wright first tested the U.K. market in 1994. Working closely with UKAMS and Trent Mail Order Management, it devised a test strategy that would yield meaningful results but at the same time minimize risk.
First, Carol Wright had to determine whether or not U.K. consumers would buy its type of low cost, value-for-money housewares before embarking on a full-scale catalog test. It was decided that the U.K.'s strong traditional off-the-page mail-order market was the place to test. Selecting some of the best selling catalog lines from the U.S., the marketer placed a series of national newspaper ads. Results were encouraging and it began creating a customer database.
This strategy of selling product direct off-the-page was quite different from the way customers were acquired in the U.S., but it was important. It helped Carol Wright to grow its own list in a market where the availability of strong consumer mailing lists was limited. This shortage was due primarily to two reasons. First, there were fewer catalogers in the U.K., so good lists were in short supply. Second, list owners in the U.K. proved to be far more protective of their lists than their U.S. counterparts. They simply did not want other catalogers talking to their customers.
Again, the U.K. market has developed quickly since Carol Wright placed its first test. Substantial growth in the number of catalog companies trading in the U.K. has created more lists and, more importantly, people's attitudes have changed. Most companies now realize a thriving list market is essential to industry development and are far more willing to trade their lists.
Today, Carol Wright has a list of some 400,000 customers and mails its 96-page catalogs almost monthly to outside lists.
Collin Street Bakery
The Collin Street Bakery has enjoyed a successful international business. In fact, people in 195 countries enjoy its gourmet Deluxe Fruit Cake every Christmas. So how does the U.K. differ from all of the other territories in which the bakery markets its product?
The bakery decided to test off-the-page print ads when it became clear that it had almost exhausted the number of lists it could mail to profitably within the U.K. It needed to find another way to acquire new customers.
The company found that it could reach its target audience cost effectively by using upscale broadsheets such as The Times and Daily Telegraph. To its surprise it found that it could make black-and-white advertising in these daily newspapers work.
Unlike Collin Street Bakery's direct mail packages, which require the customer to send responses back to the bakery in Texas, the off-the-page ads run a local number and a U.K.-based telemarketing company handles response. Ads that listed a U.S. telephone number and address were tested against a U.K. telephone number and address in an A/B split. Test results proved that new customers preferred to respond in the U.K.
The company's off-the-page campaign in the U.K. each fall is now as established a part of its marketing plans as its direct mail.
For Information: Paul Payne, UKAMS, London, England. Tel.: +44 (171) 775-0775; Fax: +44 (171) 775-0083.