It’s the Elephant in the
Room — or Is It?
There is a tale of four blind men who were led into
a room with an elephant in it. The first man, who
felt the elephant’s leg, described it as a tree. The
second man, who felt the ear, described it as an
enormous fan. The third, who felt the body, described it as a
solid wall. The fourth, who touched the elephant’s trunk,
categorized it as a large snake. While each man was accurate
in relating his experience, each had a limited perspective
that did not provide a full and clear picture — until they
put their perceptions together to gain a clearer picture.
One can take this example and expand it to the world of
direct response television advertising, where classic DRTV
and consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers frequently
view marketing challenges in very distinct, yet often limiting ways. Clearly, there is much the two can learn from one
another that can provide each a 360-degree perspective,
marrying the best practices of both worlds and ultimately
producing a sum much greater than its parts.
The language and formulas of measuring success for
CPG marketers and DRTV marketers have always been different: DRTV marketers have rarely talked about brand and
equity building, while CPG marketers rarely discuss cost-per-lead (CPL) or cost-per-order (CPO).
The best marketing and advertising agencies today are
engaged in the development of strategies that combine the
best of both worlds — brand building and cost effectiveness.
This perspective leverages both approaches and measures,
creating super-charged campaigns that deliver results.
Brand-building strategies, including subscription to MRI
and Nielsen, consumer research, concept and copy testing,
and the general application of brand building success measurement philosophies are crucial in this world. But, the
lower costs associated with all elements of DRTV — specifically CPL and CPO — are key to driving efficiencies.
Leading DR agencies should
use a unique business model that
works not just on the front end,
but on the back end as well. CPG
companies are now working toward establishing direct relationships with consumers, largely
through Web-based interactions. Because their outreach vehicles must drive data collection, CPG companies are beginning to adopt many of DRTV’s best practices.
By and large, CPG companies are less interested in making a direct sale, but rather in driving trial. Through
coupons, samples and virtual information packages, CPG
companies are driving consumers to company Web sites,
where data collection and data mining practices have grown
CPG companies have always known that when you
qualitatively test creative efforts — whether 30 seconds, 60
seconds or even a half-hour — the copy that meets or beats
airing criteria drives measurable success. Copy that does not
meet airing criteria can lead to client disappointment.
Insights made available though various copy testing research companies can truly help the marketer understand
where the message is delivering and where there is room for
improvement. Good copy scores also speak to message/copy
longevity. On the other side of the coin, many of the DRTV
copy fundamentals seen as best practices are effective creative tools for driving trial. Many CPG companies are looking at product demonstrations in a new light thanks to our
industry’s perfection of the demo.
Many of the largest DRTV marketers know that reach
and frequency drive retail sell-through. The question they
face is when, and to what degree, do they raise media allowables and pursue alternative measurable media strategies.
DRTV companies typically lack the media know-how to
move away from what they perceive as their bread and butter. Incorporating tools that measure retail sell-through and
adopting an approach that can make those measures actionable may be more effective than traditional CPO/CPL
measures as a campaign matures and moves to retail.
A brand marketer’s objective is to learn about business
models he or she does not understand, determine the advantages of these models, and then test and learn from
these insights to create stronger brands. For DR marketers,
there are many CPG business protocols which often feel at
odds with the “direct” nature of their businesses, but that
are equally accountable and measurable once the marketer
obtains the know-how and systems to implement them. ■