December 09, 2008

To Fix a CPO, Check Your C.P.O.

One of the most common questions I'm asked is, "Do you think this commercial is fixable?" In other words, the DRTV marketer has already tested his spot, and the CPO that came back wasn't good. He wants to know what I think the problem is, how bad it is, and whether I have ever seen a campaign with that CPO go on to success.

Indeed, many people don't enlist my services until they have come to this point, which gives me the unenviable job of having to fix a bomb or near-bomb in order to impress the client. Well, I am not a miracle worker. Like other experts in the industry, I go through a mental checklist of what I have seen  impact a CPO.

It's a fairly quick process because the list is short. In fact, anyone can learn it and remember it. That's because there are only three items on the list, and it just so happens that they form the acronym C.P.O.

C - Clarity. I rarely come across this problem when I review a commercial from an established player. But I see it all the time when I work with novices. That's because few people outside the industry know and follow the DRTV principles, such as those found on my list of Tried & True DRTV Techniques. While each of the principles has a different purpose, together they produce a commercial that is crystal clear. The viewer comes away knowing exactly what the product is, what it does and why she needs it. Novices tend to produce commercials that have the opposite effect, and this is the No. 1 reason why their commercials fail. Of course, even the experts can run into this problem when they choose an item that isn't easy to explain in short form, which is why I made that criterion No. 5 on my product selection checklist.

P - Positioning. This is a broad term that can mean different things. I use the purest definition of the term, as it was explained by the two men who introduced it to the advertising world in the 1970s. In their seminal work, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout write, "Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect." In DRTV, the positioning process begins with the opening of the commercial. If you don't immediately stake out a compelling position in the mind of the viewer, you lose. The good news is repositioning is possible. I have seen new openings dramatically improve a CPO. I have even seen larger positioning problems, such as those requiring a complete rethinking of the pitch, turn out well. For example, I was once asked to review a commercial for a man's tool that was incorrectly pitched as a woman's craft item. We repositioned the product, and the CPO moved into a workable range.

O - Offer. I recently asked a favorite DRTV guru, someone with almost 30 years of experience, to give me his list of things he had seen improve a CPO. He chuckled and told me there was only one item on his list -- the offer. There's a lot of wisdom in that answer, particularly for marketers with enough experience to avoid clarity and positioning mistakes. Countless times, I have watched marketers waste their time on expensive creative changes, only to end up with the same or similar results. If you only need to take a few dollars off a CPO, by all means invest in creative changes (but make sure they're changes that count). However, if you need to cut a CPO in half, the quickest way is to test a new price point or a new bonus. Nine times out of 10, a better offer delivers a better CPO. How much better, however, is anyone's guess.

Of course, all of the above assumes there isn't an obvious problem with the campaign's back-end metrics. If you're considering using the C.P.O. process, make sure to benchmark your phone and Web conversion rates against industry norms first. This will ensure a weak vendor isn't your real problem.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points from Jordan. I agree with all said, however I do want to point out that in order to "fix" a commercial both the CPO and the MER needs critical analysis. One must focus on the upsells and conversions to get the average order up. If you can't increase call volume then you must increase RPO.....just sayin....