The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.Imagine the following scenario: You just learned that a silly DRTV product you openly mocked is rolling out at retail. This comes just days after you discovered that another product, one that you carefully considered before rejecting, was tested by another company and has a working CPO…
Anyone who is a player in the DR game has experienced something like this before—a moment of intense self-doubt over a missed opportunity (or two). The question is how to react in such situations. In the field, the most common reaction I’ve observed is the suspension of rational thought for a time, and that usually involves the wasting of copious amounts of money. I recommend another course of action: inaction. Acceptance.
The great Al Ries, co-creator of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, put it best:
"You can always find at least one exception to every rule. You have a choice. You can either live by the rules and accept the possibility that you might miss an opportunity because you didn’t break the rules. Or you can live a life of anarchy."
Whenever I give a DR 101-type seminar, I use this quote right after I finish presenting my well-supported lists of criteria. I have seven criteria for DRTV products, 10 techniques for DRTV commercials, and so on. Any talk of criteria invites a certain skepticism. “There are no absolutes” people will say, typically right before they start using outliers to make their case. I head them off at the pass with the quote above and explain that I know there are no magic formulas. But there are smart ways to improve the odds of success. We must follow the criteria and accept that a silly product we mocked could possibly roll out. Or that a viable product we carefully considered, but then rejected (for good reasons!), could end up delivering a working CPO for someone else who took the shot. Or we can live a life of anarchy.
If this sober way of thinking doesn’t give you the comfort you need, a good dose of schadenfreude can—and it will often become available. This uniquely German word means “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune” and perfectly expresses the guilty satisfaction we feel when an item fails that we hated or had first.
On many occasions, companies have declared success for products I thought couldn’t possibly succeed. Since I put my opinions about every DR project on my blog for all to read, you can imagine the sort of gloating emails I receive. My response is simply to wait. Recently, I tracked two rollouts from categories I had determined were bad for DRTV. My conclusions were well supported with plenty of evidence to back them up, but I was told these projects had defied gravity.
In the end, both crashed to earth at retail. I never rubbed it in anyone’s face, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a little German about it.
Image by digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Jordan Pine is a consultant specializing in short-form DRTV and the author of the industry blog The SciMark Report.