The DNA of DRTV
Everyone wants to know the secret to direct
response television (DRTV) advertising. In a
world where converging technologies facilitate
viewer responses, commercials bear URLs, and
Web advertising seduces business with pay-as-you-go
models, DRTV is appealing.
Advertisers who wouldn’t have touched this tactic
a few years ago are intrigued, and are siphoning funds
away from traditional brand-only TV. Predictably, general market agencies are scrambling to learn more — to
become facile in the world of selling direct. I’m in a good
position to spill some DRTV secrets to the uninitiated.
After more than 15 years in the brand advertising
business, I’m a DRTV convert. In fact, my enthusiasm
prompted me to want to write something along the lines
of This-Many Steps to Great DRTV. Unfortunately, a secret sequence of events doesn’t exist.
Then it hit me. Rather than a series of steps to follow, like assembly instructions for a grill or backyard
swing-set, could it be that successful DRTV spots have
common elements that can be applied and work together in myriad ways? Kind of like DNA: core essential elements, assembled in an infinite number of combinations.
We’ve all heard that advertising isn’t brain surgery.
I suppose it’s not genetic engineering either. But maybe
it’s a little like creative engineering. So, here’s my perspective on the double helix that is DRTV. Specifically,
here are the four essential elements:
Element 1: The E Factor
Your best chance at avoiding the tyranny of the remote or the mouse is to engage your prospect. Important
point: this is all about them, not you. It’s been said that
a good salesperson is a good listener. But what do you do
when you’re not even in the room?
In the monologue of pre-produced video — on TV
Element 2: CrV (Create Value)
or online — the listening happens beforehand. Immerse
yourself in your target audience, appreciate the value of
your product or service to them, and figure out how the
two fit together. You can’t bully
someone into responding to your
offer with repetition and volume.
You have to engage, not assault.
Before you can elicit a phone call or mouse click,
you must communicate value — and I don’t mean how
much it costs. Your commercial has to create value,
enough that someone will not only be willing, but indeed want to spend money and invest time to get it.
This isn’t the time or place to imply or intimate. Be
clear. Be concise. Be explicit. Demonstrate. Explain.
Educate if you can. Share a success story. Does it resolve
a conflict? Does it solve a problem? Does it do something
surprising? Construct your case, and make it airtight.
Element 3: X-clusivity
Given a choice, a potential customer will almost
always opt to wait. In the DRTV world of immediate
and measurable response, this is not good. As a DRTV
advertiser, it’s critical to communicate exclusivity. Are
there no others like it? Is this the only way to get it? Is it
the only one available at this low price?
Engineer your exclusivity. Is there a respected brand
association that separates it from the rest? Is there a
personality who uses nothing else? Dig deep. And forget
about faux exclusivity. Be genuine.
Element 4: Sell
Wait for it … then sell. Timing has a lot to do with
making the sale. Sell too soon, and you’re likely to get
the proverbial door slam. DRTV practitioners tell you
to get the phone number up early. But it’s going to have
more impact when it coincides with something meaningful in the script. If you can, sweeten the offer in case
someone is on the fence. Clearly ask your prospect to
buy and tell them how. If your commercial works, selling
is easy because your consumer is anxious to buy.
Of course, engaging the audience, creating value,
engineering exclusivity and selling soundly are not for
the faint of heart. DRTV spots are judged failures or suc-cesses within days or weeks after they air. You can’t hide
behind great production values or clever concepts — it
works or it doesn’t.
So add one internal element to your DRTV DNA:
guts. You’ve got to be brave to be in this business, and if
you’re worried about being judged on every commercial
you create, don’t do one with an 800 number.