February 2008 - Channel Crossing: DRTV

Support Retail With a Fast Start

By Dick Wechsler

Sometimes, you don’t know what you are doing correctly until something goes wrong. This is particularly true when planning and managing television campaigns to support retail. Traditional DRTV campaigns provide empirical data about what media and creative is or isn’t working. Using DRTV to drive retail is very different. After the fact, you will certainly know how many units were sold. However, pinpointing the networks that delivered the greatest contribution, and the weight levels that made the campaign successful or a bust, is pretty murky stuff. Ironically, the greatest opportunity to identify success factors may be found more readily when campaigns falter.

A retail support campaign we managed for a leading glucosamine supplement is an excellent case in point. Every quarter, DRTV was used to distribute dollar-off coupons and support a national retail promotion. And-every quarter-the campaign worked like clockwork…until the spring of 2007. The first campaign used unique 800 numbers, so we could gather media performance measures and employ traditional buy management techniques. Following campaigns were planned on the media performance of the first, and directed respondents to a single website where they could print coupons to redeem at retail. The client provided a budget for each campaign with instructions to run the media equally over five weeks.

    Wk1 Wk2 Wk3 Wk4 Wk5 Wk6
Campaign 2 Reach 68.4 72 73.3 73.4    
  Frequency 11.34 19.52 26.29 28.51    
Campaign 3 Reach 68.9 72.3 73.5 74.2 73.7  
  Frequency 12.81 20.21 26.5 32.64 26.78  
Campaign 4 Reach 58.4 66.4 67.1 71.4 71.6 71.2

Frequency 5.5 9.86 10.73 18.99 21.16 20.32

Campaigns One, Two and Three were extremely successful. The second campaign, however, did provide some anxious moments. Media cleared much better than expected, and we had to end the campaign one week early. While the shortened campaign upset retailers who were expecting five weeks of advertising, sales were ultimately so strong that the fast start and abridged campaign were soon forgotten. In hindsight, it was a learning experience that we should have paid more attention to.
Campaign Four was problematic. Clearance was weak through the first three weeks and there was no evident lift in retail sales whatsoever! In fact, we cancelled the campaign in the middle of week three to allow us to adjust the media mix and the rates structure and then launch the campaign at higher levels. Ten days later, we were back on-air, the campaign cleared as expected and retail sales began to take off.

Despite the fact that we were able to save the last half of Campaign Four, the first three weeks were devastating. Significant dollars had been spent with no benefit at retail. It appeared that every dollar spent on media in the first three weeks was wasted. We needed to learn why.

Network selection, creative and offer were constant in all campaigns, so we hypothesized that audience delivery was the catalyst for success or failure (see table). The table shows the weekly Reach/Frequency (R/F) for Campaigns Two, Three and Four. Campaign Two achieved an R/F of 68.4/11.34 in week one, 73.3/26.29 in week two and 73.4/28.51 in week three. Campaign Three’s weekly R/F delivery was quite similar.

Campaign Four’s Weekly R/F was significantly lower in the first three weeks of the campaign. Frequency didn’t hit 18 until week four. Week four, however, was when retail began to move. Coincidentally, retail took off when frequency hit 19.5 (week two) for Campaign Two and 20.21 (week two) for Campaign Three. This led us to believe that a weekly frequency of 18 or higher is a critical threshold for successful retail support. Achieving those levels demands frontloading the campaign. But the fast start spurs retail activity in the first week of a campaign, with the impact extended to the end.

Dick Wechsler is president and CEO of Lockard & Wechsler, a leading direct marketing agency in Irvington, N.Y. He can be reached at (914) 591-6600, or via e-mail at [email protected].


1 Comment

Other links to this post

  1. Electronic Retailer Magazine February 2008 Channel Crossing DRTV | Joint Pain Relief

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment