May 23, 2009

Unasked Questions

I just got back from the Response Expo in San Diego. Every year it gets better, as does the quality of the seminars and symposiums.

I especially enjoyed Dick Wechsler's symposium on integration. One reason was the speakers. Any time you get Dick, AJ Khubani, Ron Steblea from Allstar and Fred Vanore from Blue Moon Studios in one room, you're bound to learn something new. (Brian Fays from Viacom also gave a fascinating talk about his networks and media availability.) These are some of the brightest minds in DR today.

Naturally, there were a lot of people who wanted to know more, so I didn't have a chance to ask the panel my questions. If I had, I would have asked the following ...

1. "DRPR" seems to be an increasing trend. More and more, we see the CEOs of DRTV companies going on news and talk shows to promote their products. AJ demonstrated Ped Egg on The View. Scott Boilen went on Oprah to pitch Snuggie. And Bill McAlister did the circuit to promote Mighty Putty and Mighty Mendit.

Has anyone been able to measure the impact of these PR efforts on direct sales? (After all, our business is about measurability.) If not, does the Internet present an opportunity to invent this metric?

(For example, specific URLs could be promoted on these shows and trackable links could be used on companion Web sites. And here's an interesting idea: What if, in addition to an audience giveaway, these CEOs were to promote a viewer giveaway, say $5 off for visiting a special site?)

2. The DRTV media environment is very challenging right now. (See Dick's excellent guest post for why.) Inevitably, that means more DRTV companies will be running campaigns at a loss to support retail.

Has anyone developed a reliable way of measuring and managing negative ROI media spending against retail sales? (I have, but I'm curious to compare notes.)

3. Lastly, a related question: Is the correlation between hot on DRTV and hot at retail as strong as it used to be? Or are we seeing more examples of products succeeding on DRTV only to do mediocre at retail, and vice-versa? If so, how are you mitigating the associated risks? Please cite examples if you can.

Since the panel is over, I'd like to see what my readers think. Post your answers here and, if I get enough responses, I'll follow up with a second post recapping your comments. You can always post anonymously if you prefer.

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