Smart Buy

by Eddie Wilders on May 22, 2017 9:20:52 AM Brand Marketing, Direct Response

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Familiar Turf

Growing up, my family didn’t do much traveling. We visited Walt Disney World as often as we could, but were mostly content to take family vacations by car. The trips weren’t always glamorous (Amish Country stands out for me as a can-miss), but they were filled with laughs and family bonding. 

Now that I’m older, I look forward to someday going to Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Iceland, and other countries that have rich histories, great scenery, outstanding food, and languages I can’t speak. I can’t afford such a life of leisure just yet, but that’s the plan for a few years down the road.

When I first got into direct response 15 years ago, I was amazed at how many products were produced or shipped through international waters. I knew that goods were cheaper if made overseas, but had never considered the sheer volumes that traverse the world to reach our shores.

What also left me scratching my head was how few of the same products were sold overseas; many go to Canada and Mexico, but not as many elsewhere. Wouldn’t citizens of every nation want to shell out a little bit of the local currency for a memory foam pillow and better sleep?

I learned that the cost of goods, international tariffs, and regulations on advertising can make it challenging to market products overseas. I still don’t understand all of the rules and regulations in other countries, but know that it can be expensive for a company to retool its creative every time it enters a new market. DR marketers must ask themselves whether or not international markets are right for them—and which ones.

Stateside, the media landscape is more familiar. At the beginning of May, many opportunities are snatched up by upfront buyers that need to make up for lost points throughout the year. It’s also season finale time, and the scatter markets are tight. June tends to be more forgiving, typically offering more opportunities and an uptick in response.

If you don’t participate in the upfronts, there’s a good chance that you won’t air any campaigns nationwide in primetime over the next several weeks. Cable is where your best opportunities lie, and there are plenty of networks that will line up to take your money.

The biggest boom in cable is currently happening on the news networks. Ratings for Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC are surging, and with good ratings come favorable response rates and soaring ROIs. Whatever you pay for a spot on these networks, the results will likely be spectacular. Ride the wave through June.

The warmer months also bring network opportunities in live sports. The Belmont Stakes—the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown—is coming up on June 10. Ratings went through the roof in 2015, when American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since 1978; if Always Dreaming was able to follow up his Kentucky Derby win with another at the Preakness, there would have been a similar spike for the Belmont this year.

June will also crown two world champs in basketball and hockey. With games airing on broadcast and cable, both playoff seasons have surged in ratings in recent years, especially the NBA’s. Last year’s comeback by the Cleveland Cavaliers brought some of the highest viewership numbers since the late ’90s, and with LeBron James leading another championship run, the NBA playoffs are a marketing opportunity waiting to happen.

As summer begins, the U.S. media market offers familiar, ad-friendly turf. Whether or not you are poised to take advantage of international opportunities, there are plenty of ways to produce a homegrown success.

Eddie Wilders is senior vice president of research and analytics of Lockard & Wechsler Direct in Irvington, N.Y. “Like” Lockard & Wechsler on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @lwdirect. 

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