Driving Retail

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By: Beth Vendice, President, Mercury Media Performance Guarantee Group, Boston

We pride ourselves on “now.” At its most basic level, direct response TV is all about “now.” Make the call, visit the website, do it now.  All the creative, messaging, and placement is designed for “now.” To elicit an immediate response.

Which is not to say that “now” TV doesn’t have positive after effects. Branding is one of them. Retail sales are another.  Often, I am asked about the relationship between DRTV and retail sales lift.. It makes sense. Many of our most successful clients sell products or services that simply don’t have a retail component, such as ecommerce services. On the other hand, many clients have a retail product component and invariably the two go hand in hand. DRTV drives retail sales. It isn’t the science of “now”, but it is the science of DTRV’s afterburners.

We recommend a DRTV advertisers always consider a strategy, which supports sell to and sell thru at retail. The payoff is significant. It’s hard to assign a categorical number. Empirical data tells us sales at retail, driven by a good DRTV campaign, can be three to 10 times the direct sales on TV. Logistically, a direct response retail strategy can be designed for “now” and also for retail.  Both can increase the lifetime value of your direct customers.

In response to this increased awareness of DRTV and retail, we have developed three key strategies:

1. Creative: Go long! A 60 second DRTV creative, even without retail tags, will drive meaningful retail sell to and thru. Of course the media investment has to be meaningful as well. We’ve found the best strategy to drive direct and retail use longer format combined with shorter units – :30s or even :15s, to deliver strong frequency. This gives the campaign the chance to educate viewers about the product. By the way,  a DRTV creative for retail does not depend on retail tags. In fact, many times the retail tags will drive up media CPMs (should this be CPO or CPM?).

2. Media Strategy: A typical base line for adequate spend will be 50+ Targeted rating points, per week, for six to eight weeks.  There are three primary differences between straight DRTV campaigns and a hybrid that seeks to drive retail sales.

  • The network selection and dayparts will be different.  A retail strategy will include media plan that executes  higher profile programming and dayparts with strong frequency.
  • Flighting strategies are also different.  Traditional DRTV campaigns will air continuously from week to week and spend levels could fluctuate significantly based on CPA optimization and clearance.   A retail strategy has dual objectives:  optimize consistently but also achieve targeted impressions and TRP levels.  So flighting is set over a “two to three week on” and  “one to two weeks off”  pattern in order to deliver  strong frequency and build rapid awareness.
  • Spend optimization: Because sales at retail are multiples of direct sales (3-10x) the tolerable CPA of a traditional (non retail) DRTV campaign will in general be lower than that of a retail strategy which needs compressed spends. Compressed spend on higher profile nets may drive up CPAs, but these are offset buy increased revenue delivered at retail.

3. Adjust the offer: In general, the retailer would prefer you not compete with  them by making the same offer on TV or a more attractive one. It’s easy to make an offer that is slightly different on TV via the sale of a premium, or a variation on the actual SKU. In general, all DR products that can impact retail have fans among retailers (not sure if this makes sense here?). A successful campaign can fast track shelf placement. Also: Consider adding key retail partners based on the market and size of buy-in.

It works. We’ve worked on several DRTV-Retail campaigns. Especially for the consumer packaged goods category, this hybrid model is efficient as a media buy and captures the afterburner effect of direct response.

As President of Performance Guarantee Group in Boston, Beth is responsible for leading the strategic direction and day-to-day operations.  Since joining Mercury in 2001, she has led the firm to significant year-over-year growth by attracting clients that include Mandalay Bay Resorts Group, Neutrogena, LifeLock, Liberty Medical, Boost Mobile, Conair, Vegas.com and many more well-known brands. Prior to joining Mercury, Beth held leadership positions at both AIG and Liberty Mutual and brings more than 20 years of leadership experience guiding teams to successfully help clients significantly and measurably grow their businesses.

Contact her at bvendice@mercurymedia.com


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