Seven Tips to Maximizing Your DRTV Budget
DRTV works for nonprofits and for-profits alike, but — like anything else — you want to make the most of your investment. Here are seven tips to help you do just that.
1) First run or rerun?
Unless you have a couple of million dollars gathering dust, first-run blockbusters like “Grey’s Anatomy” are not the place for DRTV ads. Why? First, it’s expensive and, second, people want to watch the show and frequently use ad time to take a break or channel surf. As a result, they don’t see the spot and don’t respond. Game shows, second-run classics like “M*A*S*H,” or encore presentations typically are a much more effective place for DRTV. People don’t mind missing a couple of minutes of the show to make the call.
2) How long can a commercial run and still bring in money?
That depends on the product/mission/offer and the commercial — no surprises here. But we do know that controls are tough to beat — after all, that’s why they’re the control. Some continue to run after more than five years with some minor tweaking. But that’s the beauty of DRTV — when something stops working, you know it right away.
But does that mean you have to pull the ad? Not necessarily. Sometimes temporarily pulling the spot for a month or two is enough. Sometimes putting a new “face” on the ad or tweaking the telemarketing script can bring new life to a campaign. How do you know? Test, test, and test.
3) Know how and when to optimize opportunities.
Negotiating skills are important when buying media, but more important is knowing how and when to take advantage of or create opportunities. For instance, there are times when fire sales (inexpensive air time) and “make goods” (spots provided by stations when previous spots have been bumped and that are equally good or better than the original spot) can have a dramatic positive impact on the program’s ROI. Good deals often are available in the first quarter, and front loading spending can launch the new year with strong results. Working with a media buyer who understands timing can save tens of thousands of dollars.
4) Who’s buying what?
Most DRTV respondents are female, ages 25 to 49, right? Or male, ages 35 to 59. Right? Maybe. Maybe not. The real question: Is your dominant demographic a self-fulfilling prophecy or a true demographic picture of your market? Your mission and creative might scream “Men, ages 18 to 24,” but the fact is that in DRTV your audience will self-select. If you’re buying time on “Murder She Wrote” and other shows of that ilk, the true answer might be elusive because you might be missing key target markets. The answer is to periodically review your media mix to make sure you’re reaching all key markets. And when testing a new market, make sure your creative can make the leap as well.
5) Know which stations and time periods will generate the highest ROI.
Marketers and fundraisers sometimes pick stations based on what they perceive as revenue potential. But that can be a serious — and expensive — error. A strategic mix of stations, affiliates, cable verticals and time periods often generate more cost-effective cost-per-leads and conversion due to better targeting.
6) Integrating DRTV into an overall marketing strategy can help make every dollar count.
DRTV does not operate in a vacuum. Rather, it can be a powerful tool for driving traffic on many levels. An investment in DRTV can be effectively leveraged to provide support to direct mail, the Internet, telemarketing and other direct marketing — in addition to branding efforts.
7) Does seasonality matter?
History repeats itself — hence seasonality. Housebound viewers are more DRTV-responsive in the winter in Minnesota than sun-worshippers in Florida. Thus the first quarter often is a good bet for DRTV. But beware of seasonal and environmental factors like election time and the Super Bowl.
Maria Eden and Cary Scottoline are the co-founders of Direct Response Media Inc., a Wayne, Pa.-based direct-response TV firm. They can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-898-DRMI.