With the rising level of customer sophistication and the widespread use of Amazon reviews, the days of huge profits for subpar products in direct response is quickly coming to an end. Gimmicks are quickly identified as such and once exposed, these products rarely make it to retail. If they do, they are doomed to fail quickly, afflicted by the weight of returns and a negative reputation.
Swim cap and sarong courtesy of an art director who doesn’t have a clue.
This past week, an article in the New York Times, titled “Why Traditional TV Is in Trouble,” outlined in rather stark terms how aged the audience for the top 10 network television shows is, in advance of the annual upfront TV advertising derby. The median age for the top 10 network entertainment shows, according to Nielsen and as reported by the Times, is as follows:
This week, your Friday Forecaster goes into the archives to offer “Under Construction,” a DISH column that first appeared in Electronic Retailer magazine's December 2014 issue. Its topic is just as relevant today, as it asks readers to consider their professional and personal life’s course, and whether it is aligned with their true purpose.
“But I’d never buy a ____ if I couldn’t check it out in person first.” To win over a skeptical segment of the buying public, direct-to-consumer retailers have spent decades successfully overcoming that hurdle. Industry members have used accurate product demonstrations, representative testimonials, in-depth documentation and other methods for building shoppers’ confidence.Another way many direct response marketers signal their intention to stand by what they sell is by offering warranties — sometimes described as a promise that a product will meet a specified level of performance over a particular period of time.
A rendering of the “Country Square” kitchen set, currently under construction at Bluewater Media.
In the 1980s, during the nascent days of cable television when your Friday Forecaster was first starting in the advertising business, audiences were tiny, unrated and easy to dismiss by the dominant, big-three broadcast networks. In time, combined cable ratings surpassed those three networks — and in recent years, viewership for Netflix has also eclipsed audiences for those same once-dominant broadcasters. Today, the marketplace is at a similar nexus, as media usage habits shift, and bloggers and social media influencers begin to attract audiences in sizes that range from those requiring micro-measurement, to aggregated audiences that offer numbers rivaling TV’s reach. As of September 2017, it was estimated that there are more than 440 million blogs worldwide, according to mediakix, a number that has surely surpassed a half a billion by now. Food bloggers comprise one of the largest categories, with top influencers attracting audiences that number in the millions, drawn to their websites and social media hubs that include Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter. Enter Bluewater Media, a converged marketing agency based in Clearwater, Florida, that is helping influencers generate and monetize their content.
You’ve already got the right to say what you want and believe what you want. But, under new EU regulations, effective May 25, 2018, you will soon have the right to forget what you want, too.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the biggest overhaul of EU security policy in decades. Under the law, consumers will enjoy the “right to be forgotten,” meaning any EU citizen can request an entity destroy any personal data involving them “without undue delay.”
DRMetrix has created the most advanced relational database for tracking and analyzing performance-based television advertisements the industry has ever seen and, in the process, is ushering in a new age of media transparency. A demo of the platform impressed your Friday Forecaster to such a degree, that the best way to compare it to previous attempts to track infomercial and DR spot frequency and ad spend is to say that it is like comparing an abacus to a super-computer.
Media attribution is the art and science of determining which marketing efforts are driving consumer behavior that results in online and offline traffic, lead capture and actual sales. Of course, in the pre-internet days, marketers had the ability to allocate unique toll-free numbers to different advertisements and the corresponding media they were running in or on, so there was precision in knowing how effective any given airing or listing was. There was effectively a direct cause and effect — call it a straight line — that could be drawn between an ad and its corresponding response. Enter digital marketing and smartphones and now consumers can interact with marketers when, how and where they like.
From humble beginnings, the subscription box industry has grown by leaps and bounds. With over 2,000 subscription boxes available, consumers can have apparel, cosmetics, meals and wine boxes — to name just a few — delivered to their front door monthly, quarterly or at a variety of intervals. Participants can curate their journey with the subscription brand, and their boxes provide unique choice, variety, flexibility, and convenience that traditional shopping cannot.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) continues to be an important topic of conversation for U.S. companies. Since its inception, the GDPR has raised a number of questions as to whether businesses are properly prepared to comply. The GDPR was adopted on April 27, 2016, and allotted a two-year post-adoption grace period for businesses to strategize and implement their compliant approach. With less than two months left, it has been reported that an estimated 61% of U.S. businesses are not ready for the regulation, and that only 67% of European-based businesses have begun moving into the implementation phase of their GDPR compliance program. The potential fines have many concerned about compliance as the May 25, 2018 date of enforcement approaches, but businesses struggle with fully understanding the regulation and thus fail to launch a comprehensive plan.
One of the more bizarre aspects of the Donald Trump Administration, amid a carnival of oddities, has been the President’s penchant for excoriating publicly traded companies and their leaders by way of Twitter. No single company has drawn the ire of the Donald more than e-commerce giant Amazon and its chairman, Jeff Bezos.
On Tuesday, April 10, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was a witness before a joint session of two Senate Committees — the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee. Basically, that means that Mark could potentially face almost half of Congress during his questioning period. There are 100 Senators in Congress and 44 of them serve on either of these two Committees. That’s a lot of potential questions.
Launching a new product is always risky. No matter how diligently you prepare, you can never guarantee success.
And, as you’ll see below, even the most successful businesses suffer the occasional flop. But how do you know when a product is a flop?
This week’s Friday Forecast comes by way of DirectAvenue’s DirectConnect quarterly newsletter and examines the secret to why social media is so addictive and how marketers can leverage its power to foster community, and lasting brand loyalty and affinity.
Retail product marketers have straightforward goals: attract new customers, increase product sales and improve the brand’s awareness to drive recurring sales for their product or group of products. However, this is a challenging task in the current, tumultuous retail environment combined with a fragmented media environment. Many institutions that built and supported U.S. commerce for decades, like Sears, Macy’s and Toys “R” Us, have had to shut down a significant number of their locations or, in the case of Toys “R” Us, experienced full bankruptcy liquidation. As a result, new media options have pushed marketers to reinvent themselves to keep up with the demands and shopping considerations of today’s retail customer.
Features, price, service, selection? When competitors offer similar items, what’s the magic that turns a browser into a buyer? According to market research, many shoppers say that a selling point that can seal the deal is when one of the products is “Made in the USA.” If you state on your products or packaging, in ads, on your website or in social media that your merchandise is American-made, are you complying with the Federal Trade Commission’s established standards?
Checking my mail one day, I received an oversized postcard from a restaurant, called Lena’s Italian Kitchen, offering 20% off my first order. As a New York City resident, I can say that this was the first (and only) solo direct-mail piece I ever received from a restaurant. As a direct marketer, I applauded its strategy … what a great way to stand out in a very crowded landscape. Just how crowded? According to a recent report from Crain’s New York, crowded to the tune of more than 26,000 restaurants across the five boroughs!
It isn’t every day that a leader in the direct marketing industry receives recognition from a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. But in a recent interview with CNBC’s Make It, musician, actor and entrepreneur Jon Bon Jovi cited the story of Allstar Products Group Founder Scott Boilen as an example of why success in business isn’t about chasing “fads or fashions.” Bon Jovi remarked, "The guy that created the Snuggie showed that that was his creation. Don’t try to create the Snuggie 2 because you saw someone be successful at it." As Boilen recounts, “Blankets with sleeves had been around, but nobody knew about them — they were buried in the back of catalogs or the bottom rung of store shelves.” It took a clever name, the right problem/solution positioning, and a whimsical commercial that went viral organically to launch a new category of household item that has, ahem, blanketed pop culture, selling well over 30 million units.
CITGO Petroleum Corporation has been an iconic American brand since 1910. Yet, although the company boasts a long history of providing a variety of services to consumers, like any forward-thinking company, CITGO wanted to make sure its brand identity had staying power. To do that, the company knew it needed to keep up with today’s tech-savvy consumers by introducing its own mobile app.
This is one of an occasional series featuring direct marketing leaders who will share five key insights they have learned from their career in marketing and advertising. This week, your Friday Forecaster met up with Ava Seavey, Queen Bee of Avalanche Creative Services, Inc., a cost-effective alternative to traditional Madison Avenue agencies that she founded in 2001.
Every day, Google processes 3.5 billion search queries. That’s an average of 40,000 per second. And while Google deserves a ton of credit for its success and dominance, it may want to send out a few “Thank You” notes. A most worthy recipient, in my opinion, would be the television industry and its advertisers.
We have all heard it, “Bitcoin,” the first cryptocurrency created in late 2008, early 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Many of us are still on the periphery and don’t understand Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. As marketers and direct response professionals, we try to stay on top of the latest trends and disruptive technology. Cryptocurrency is one of those disruptive technologies that cannot be ignored in any industry. For many, the term, “cryptocurrency,” itself is scary and somewhat esoteric.
Just about everyone in advertising or marketing who isn’t already a marketer has dreamed of having that winning product that will allow them to reap the fruit of their expertise from the client side of the desk, as opposed to that of a vendor. Such was the case back in 2013 when Michael Weinstein was driving across New York’s Westchester County, listening to shock jock Howard Stern on the radio. Weinstein, who today is Chief Marketing Officer for Allstar Products Group, was running a digital agency at the time. Stern had billionaire Mark Cuban as his guest and had thrown down a challenge to his staff: each of them took a turn pitching a product idea to Cuban to see if they could pique the businessman and investor’s interest. When it came time for producer Richie Wilson to pitch, he was flush with an idea: a disposal wet wipe in the shape of a mitten called, Shittens. The entire studio, not to mention the listening audience, was in stitches. Cuban’s response: “Shittens! Everyone needs one!”
On March 11, the direct response marketing industry came out in droves to attend the Electronic Retailing Association’s annual Network Chicago on the ROOF of theWit Hotel. Guests had a bird’s eye view of the Windy City’s picturesque skyline, as they mingled over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. The highlight of the evening, of course, was the presentation of the 2018 ERA Achievers Awards, which recognized member companies for providing outstanding levels of leadership and financial support to ERA throughout 2017. The awards include two categories: marketer and supplier.
Senior marketing veteran Peggy Bell recently joined ERA as vice president, marketing. Rather than having an association background, which has been typical of recent ERA executives, Peggy has a diverse background that includes working in advertising and marketing within best-of-class corporations, such as Sprint and Capital One to Cigna Healthcare, Redbox Instant by Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. Your Friday Forecaster recently sat down with her for a free-wheeling conversation about her background and her initial perspectives on ERA’s challenges, and some of her initial ideas on how it might thrive and grow.