This is the first of an occasional series featuring direct marketing leaders who will share five key insights they have learned from their career in marketing and advertising.
Recently your Friday Forecaster sat down with Visionworx CEO and ERA member Nancy Duitch, a 30 veteran of direct marketing who has worked on both the client and agency side, generating over $3 billion in Omni-Channel sales. We asked her to consider five key insights she could share with our audience based upon a lifetime of learning. Here’s what she had to say:
- ‘Gut Instinct’ Is A Poor Substitute for Strategy
“In the 1980s and 1990s, which were really the nascent days of the infomercial and TV-dominant era of direct response, the ads themselves would often comprise the market research. People would produce a commercial or paid program very cheaply based on a hunch or gut instinct that the product being featured was going to be a winner. That approach is expensive and no longer relevant. There are a number of ways to test out the viability of products, positioning, claims, and other aspects of a campaign online before ever considering broadcast television. It will save you and the client money, time, and heartache. Furthermore, when you run an ad and see if you can elicit a response, you often only know if it worked or not in the broadest sense, whereas online research gives you data that is actionable and that you can use before you ever go into production on a commercial. That insight can help inform the comprehensive strategic roadmap that is essential to any well thought out marketing plan.”
- Nuance Can Make the Difference Between Success & Failure
“Sometimes what may appear to be small, incremental changes can be the difference between a miserable flop and a towering success. On one campaign that we worked on for a picture hanging system, the assumption was made that the target audience was men. The original version of the commercial, which exclusively highlighted males using the product, did about a .2 MER (i.e., .20 cents in sales for every dollar spent on media). We did some checking around with the ladies in the office and discovered that as a group they were far more intrigued by the product then men. After checking that assumption with a broader audience, we changed the commercial to feature women using it and the MER skyrocketed to a 3.0. The point: our hunches are not always accurate and they should not necessarily be the sole basis for making important business decisions. Again, you need a thorough, strategic plan before you test versus a ready, fire, aim approach.”
- Create A Separate Branding Budget
“In today’s Omni-Channel world, it’s imperative that marketers earmark a separate budget for branding. Gone are the days when every marketing dollar can be evaluated by a direct ROI – the consumer’s purchase path is simply too complex. I’ll often hear comments like, ‘We don’t do social media because there’s no ROI.’ But here’s the problem: if you don’t create an entire online eco-system that includes social media and content like blogs and reviews, then your competition will – and they’ll steal your customer. Therefore, we recommend setting up a program where there are specific initiatives geared toward obtaining direct sales, and another that is just important that helps fortify the brand and helps to get those sales over the finish line -- across all channels. We estimate that it takes an average of no less than nine touch points for a consumer to now make a definitive purchase decision, so you’ve got to engage on all fronts.”
- It’s Not About You, It’s About Them
“We work with a marketer of ongoing learning and when we first audited what they were doing we discovered that all they did in their advertising and marketing was talk about themselves and how great they were. Since turning that around and focusing on the benefit to the consumer, we’ve lowered the cost of acquisition by over a thousand percent. The lesson here is that sometimes we become so enamored by our own product or service that we only want to talk about it in terms of what we’ve built versus what’s in it for the end user. The focus needs to be relevant to the prospective customer because they simply have too many messages coming at them from too many directions. Relevancy is how they separate the wheat from the chafe.”
- Befriend Failure
“Failure is your friend. That may sound counter-intuitive, but I’ve learned invaluable lessons from every mistake I’ve made. So rather than get in a funk when something doesn’t work, I turn it around and look at failure as my greatest learning opportunity and the path that will pave the greatest rewards. Don’t get me wrong – nobody seeks to fail on purpose. But think about how liberating that shift in thinking can be. You have the power to take something that could weight you down – even destroy you – and turn it into grist for your next success.”
Rick Petry is a direct marketing veteran of over 25 years who has been involved with campaigns that have generated over $1 billion in sales. He provides creative services to both B2C and B2B marketing campaigns and recent projects have included Actegy/Revitive, Education Connection, GOLO, Joybird, and OYO/DoubleFlex. The author of over 200 articles on direct marketing best practices, Petry has a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema/Television from the University of Southern California and an MBA with a Concentration in Marketing and Sales from Marylhurst University.