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Direct Response Advertising & Infomercial Production

DR Advertising & Infomercial Production

Archive for Business

Eulogizing a Friend Who’s Time Had Come

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Eulogizing a Friend Who’s Time Had Come

The year was 1990. I was working in mainstream advertising. Shooting commercials for Madison Avenue shops that wound up on Super Bowls, Academy Awards, Olympics, and prime time. There was some prestige, but no accountability. And there was a strange new type of advertising brewing. Long commercials. They were tacky and cheesy, yet captivating. They invited people to call and order unique products they could not get anywhere else.

They were called infomercials.  I snuck out, under cover I thought, to attend a conference at the Mirage in Las Vegas for a group called NIMA. It stood for National Infomercial Marketing Association. I snuck because I did not want my ad agency clients to know I was there. It would somehow tarnish my cool image.

Yet, somehow, I wound up in People magazine. My cover was blown. I was now, whether I liked it or not, part of the infomercial business.

There was a vitality and spark about the NIMA people that didn’t exist with the Madison Avenue crowd. I met all sorts of people and didn’t fully understand what they all did. But I collected hundreds of cards and networked.

And gradually some of those people started to hire me to produce their infomercials. It was exciting and scary because they knew right away how many people were calling and ordering. The immediacy was incredibly exhilarating.

I lived a double life for several years, shooting Madison Avenue spots while sneaking around with the infomercial crowed. I just could not pull myself away from them. It was like driving on the highway and seeing an accident, the blood, not wanting to look, but somehow not able to turn away.

And I always looked forward to those NIMA conferences. I became a member. I went to all the conferences and met more and more amazing people.

We networked on the show floor, in the hallways, in restaurants, in the airports, on the planes. In fact, I met one of my largest clients on a plane coming back from a conference. It was fantastic. I worked with famous actors and models, musicians, circus animals, athletes, Doctors, and tons of real people who testified through affidavit that the product they used changed their lives forever and ever.

NIMA changed their name to ERA (Electronic Retailing Association) and added more conferences. Miami. Vegas. Washington. Europe.

At one point, just after 9/11 in NYC, in a moment of reckoning, I abandoned Madison Avenue and went full throttle into the client direct business. ERA became my best friend. Most of my business came directly through ERA functions. I volunteered for committees, became part of a community, people started to know and trust me, and I started to forge life long friendships.

Each year, the ERA dues went up and up. Membership started declining. The shows seemed more and more empty. People did business in suites, in other hotels, bars, many never even came to the host hotel.  It all crumbled.

I began to feel my dues were more like a charity contribution. And if I really wanted to contribute to a charity, I would send to St. Jude, not ERA.

So, with much guilt, I stopped paying dues in 2017. I saw no value proposition and was receiving nothing in return. And apparently I was not the only one.

I watched my dear friend ERA die a slow and excruciating death, until its final breath on June 1st, 2018, the day I received an email that ERA was no more. That ERA could not continue operating “in the face of declining dues receipts, fewer sponsorships and an overall shortage of revenue coupled with burdensome expenses”.

 

With terminal illness, you know that death will come; yet when it does, it is still a shock. 28 years of friendship. Now death. So final. So sad.

ERA failed to keep up with the times. Failed to serve all their members, just focusing on the top few big spenders. Failed to incorporate new technologies and new ways of selling into the equation. They lost their relevance, ran out of oxygen and died.

So, as I mourn my good friend of 28 years, I reflect on the good memories, the friends and colleagues, the career that I would not have, had I not befriended ERA. But let’s keep alive the community and camaraderie that was forged through ERA. And let’s do this as an industry together.

Perhaps this death, as many deaths do, will even bring us closer together as an industry.

Good by, old friend. Eternal thanks.  I will miss you.

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BE CREATIVELY FEARLESS IN ADVERTISING AND CONTENT MARKETING

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BE CREATIVELY FEARLESS IN ADVERTISING AND CONTENT MARKETING

By Ava Seavey, Queen Bee, Avalanche Creative Service, Inc.

The world is now a place filled with unlimited messaging and barraging of ads and content outdoors, online, in print, on the radio and on TV. The average person is hit with literally thousands of messages daily. How is it possible to grab attention, create emotion, and create interest?

Being bold and fearless in your creativity is a start. It is something that has been debated by the brand world and the world of DRTV and brand response for decades. But the interesting fact is that the brand and DRTV have blended, so that there is very little that differentiates them, other than the immediacy and urgency of DRTV and the way that media is purchased.

Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and YouTube are the ultimate direct response marketing vehicles. The opportunity to speak directly to prospects and customers on a personalized level has never been greater. Yet, mediocrity abounds in all medium, a desire for sameness, and a hesitancy to stand out.

Creativity does not need to be a dramatic shot of someone dangling from a mountaintop, an arty and stunning, exotic visual, a cheap shot at humor, or an effects filled voyage into fantasy. Creativity can be subtle and powerful, with meaning and purpose. The turn of a phrase, a compelling offer, donations to special causes, something just a bit different, but most of all, humanity. Compelling someone to pay attention because you’ve struck a chord in their head, their heart, or their soul, and they can relate. And they identify.

Creativity can be found whether it is a Facebook ad, a blog post, a subject line in an email campaign, or a super bowl ad. It can be found everywhere, in every nook and cranny. In every form of media, either digital or traditional. Give them content; don’t just ask them to buy something. Give them value. Give them something to believe in.

Push the envelope and create something unexpected. Something that makes someone smile, think, or feel alive, is what drives our modern communication. Too often we get caught up in data, analytics and formulas, and we forget that we are communicating with human beings that can think, feel, laugh, weep and be inspired.

To think out of the box is risky. It makes people afraid. It tests the boundaries of their belief systems and of everything they thought was comfortable and proper.

To not think out of the box is far riskier. To risk being invisible is a far greater risk.

Stand up. Speak up. Take risks. You might strike out, but you tried. Babe Ruth struck out a lot as he broke records hitting home runs. If you can get up to the plate, take that big swing.

Ava Seavey is president of Avalanche Creative Services, Inc., a creative shop that produces TV, radio, print and digital advertising.

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I’m posting like crazy on Facebook, so why is no one seeing my posts and why am I not selling any products?

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I’m posting like crazy on Facebook, so why is no one seeing my posts and why am I not selling any products?

For any serious marketers, being on social media and engaging with customers is mandatory in this digital age, like it or not.

The consumer journey now involves so many different touch points and interacting with customers has never been more crucial than it is on Facebook, where comments are visible when prospects are exploring your brand.

But, hold your horses. You are paying a fortune to people to post engaging content on Facebook and you are getting likes and comments, but few people are seeing it and no one is buying. Why?

There is a difference between advertising and PR. PR Is great for brand awareness, but it won’t sell product. Organic posting on Facebook is more like PR. However, advertising on Facebook is a whole different ball game.

Facebook’s organic reach has been steadily in decline since 2013 at least, with the average organic post reaching less than 2% of fans who have liked the page. This is intentional on Facebook’s part in order to encourage advertising.

Placing ads on Facebook will guarantee that your content is seen, not only by fans, but by prospects as well. And an ad can ask for the order and give compelling reasons to do so, the way it is in traditional media.

Whether you are simply boosting posts or have a more complex ad campaign, buying advertising is a more sure fired way to get you seen than designing campaigns to create engagement.

Both advertising and PR can work together (organic and paid ads), but to just expect sales from organic posts and hoping that something may go “viral” is not a strategy that will work for many brands, especially those on a budget.

Now with Facebook’s recent announcement that it will cut back dramatically on marketer’s posts, your content will be seen even less. And they have even warned about tactics to encourage comments to posts to get better rankings will be cracked down on and discouraged. So what is a marketer to do?

Buy ads on Facebook. Direct selling on Facebook through ads has been a sure fire way to get leads and sales and it will continue to be a great source of revenue. And those organic posts for marketers? They just may be going the way of the Betamax.

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If digital marketing is all the rage, why are all the top global digital brands advertising on TV?

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If digital marketing is all the rage, why are all the top global digital brands advertising on TV?

We’ve all heard the predictions. DRTV is dead. Infomercials are dead. TV advertising in general is dead. It’s all about social media, digital spends and Amazon.

So why are advertising spends in traditional TV growing instead of shrinking? And why is Amazon, Google, Netflix, Facebook, and Microsoft growing their spends on TV? In fact, some of them are spending more than 50% of their ad budgets on TV!

The answer? TV is engaging, entertaining, and informative. And TV is still mass. Getting your brand out there on TV produces a power like no other. And TV has a halo effect for all other media.

Spend away on Amazon, Facebook, Google, but if you are not on TV, you will miss a big opportunity to share your story, and connect with your audience using real emotion, which is hard to beat in other media. Also, good luck slugging it out with those increasing digital spends and the click fraud, bots and crazy attribution mazes.

The infomercial and DRTV approach may seem old fashioned to some, but for products or services that require explanation, demonstration or emotion, there is nothing better than television to get that point across. Whether it is a: 30 brand message or a half hour infomercial, the power of television is not going anywhere. Just ask Amazon, who spent more money on TV in 2016 than Wal-Mart.

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What Can The Trump Phenomenon Teach Us About Creative Strategies For DRTV And Infomercials?

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What can the Trump phenomenon teach us about creative strategies for DRTV and infomercials?

What the United States has just experienced is nothing short of a direct to consumer marketing miracle. As bad as it is for some, others are rejoicing. While it has been polarizing and negative, there is a silver lining in that we can learn what worked from a marketing and messaging standpoint. And we can try to apply it to selling products and services to these consumers.

Is it really possible to sell a product to millions of people without a track record, substantiation, vetting of claims, clinical results or any known price points? It is almost beyond any marketer’s fantasy. But it happened. And what can we learn from it as DRTV professionals?

Whether you like or hate the guy, he managed to tap into an emotion felt by many and was able to quantify it (even if he could not articulate exactly what it was). He made the sale and completed the transaction. Millions bought the product, even if they didn’t really understand what it was.

The group he largely appealed to was the disenfranchised. Folks that felt left behind. Folks that felt marginalized. Folks that felt misunderstood. Folks that felt as though no one was listening to them. They needed a hero, no matter how misguided or off the rails that hero might be. They took a leap of faith.

So how would a DRTV marketer tap into that same ? How would someone launching or selling a product or service use this knowledge to ignite sales from a DRTV standpoint?

While not simplistic, one could glean small suggestions to keep an audience engaged and interested using some of the same strategies.

  • Use populist themes. Don’t be too intellectual. Keep it simple. Don’t be above them. Be on their level.
  • Use emotion. Sometimes emotion and the hope of a solution can resonate more than an over explanation of facts and figures. (As an example, Hillary did a great job of having facts, figures and track record on her side, but her inability to get people on an emotional level was a marketing blunder that hurt her.)
  • Use simple themes or tag lines. They don’t have to be super creative, but they need to inspire promise and hope.
  • Be repetitive.
  • Be a bit pushy.

Since Trump was able to engage fully half of America, the tactics and strategies used to market himself should not go unnoticed from a DRTV marketing standpoint. He accomplished the impossible as a modern day P.T. Barnum, who not only entertained but closed the sale.

So if DRTV marketers follow the Trump marketing strategy for successful selling, does that mean they have to do two different executions, one for half the country and another for the other half? I think most infomercial marketers in this day and age would gladly settle for half the country.

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Small Business needs a voice in Washington, DC

Small business accounts for over 50% of the hiring in the U.S. Small business represents the very essence of what made our country great. Small business can grow into large business, but they need the resources and the advantages that large businesses have in order to do so. Why does my small company pay more taxes than GE? Why do I not get the tax breaks that Exxon does? Why are the banks not lending money to small businesses who need it most? Why are none of the nincompoops in Washington paying any attention to small business? It’s because we do not have a voice.

We can have a voice. And our voice should loudly and clearly be our votes. Based on the sham that Washington has become, we should vote out every single incumbent regardless of party and start fresh. That way, our voice is heard.

If Washington took a fraction of what they spend in foreign countries and allocated funds for U.S. small business incentives to create jobs, there would not be a 9.2% unemployment rate. Maybe it is time we all got more involved.