October 2008 - Channel Crossing: DRTV

Is This a Tough Media Environment?
By Dan Zifkin

Bill Clinton’s daily self-reminder when running for President in 1992 was “it’s the economy, stupid!” or words to that effect. It was his way of refocusing the campaign each day on what was a core issue to the voting public. While other issues needed to be addressed, he and his team knew that elections are won and lost on knowing what affects the public’s wallet and purse. That focus paid off with a victory over a sitting President.

It’s a national election year once again, and the economy is front and center on the public’s mind as they look to the November vote. As the candidates focus on their plans to deal with a struggling economy, DRTV marketers and prospective marketers should assess the opportunities-not problems-that might exist in a softer economic climate.

Here are a just a few good reasons to look at the positives rather than the negatives of an economic downturn.

Consumers are more value-oriented in their buying. If it’s true that shoppers “trade down” to lower cost stores/products in softer times, then they might well be intrigued by the benefits of your DRTV item. Now might be the time to focus on price in your message call to action, or perhaps the time to retool your spot or infomercial to offer additional incentives. If you look at what many Internet retailers are doing, you’ll find a lot more “free shipping” and other incentives on sites today-the kinds of specials that are normally more prevalent during holiday seasons and other big shopping periods. If web sellers are responding to a sluggish economy with smarter deals, then maybe your DRTV campaign should be doing the same-even if you’ve not been hurt up to now by the downturn.

Media costs are lower. This means that advertising dollars go further, and/or direct response schedules are less pre-empted. Look at this as an equalizer to lower consumer spending: if making a sale is potentially going to be tougher, then take some modest comfort in knowing that you can likely get more airings for your DRTV dollar that can work to generate the sales volume you need. Use your agency’s media negotiating ability as leverage to keep you on the same sales pace you experienced in better economic times. If done smartly, you might be as well off if not better!

Sharpen your telemarketing script. To be sure, call conversion rates are always critical, but even more so when call volume may be down. This might well be the time to offer a more attractive offer to callers who are about to drop off, or consider additional incentives to your telemarketing team. Their livelihood is at stake also, and giving them added reason to hang onto callers can pay off for both you and them.

It’s understandable that advertisers-conventional as well as DRTV-are inclined to reduce their spending in tougher times, and some postpone campaign launches. While overall consumer spending will be off in economic downturns, there’s still plenty of buying taking place. Reminding yourself that “it’s the economy!” doesn’t have to mean you pull back on your marketing efforts.

Dan Zifkin is president of Zephyr Media Group in Evanston, Ill. He can be reached at (847) 328-1519.

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