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Authenticity Reigns in Production

Authenticity Reigns in Production

One crucial marketing lesson learned during the pandemic was that flashy, glitzy, big-budget production did not necessarily win over the consumer. Another lesson learned was the power of video in all direct-to-consumer, DRTV, and social media outreach.

Authenticity in video communication is a critical factor in earning the customer’s trust and making conversions and sales.

Research has shown that what consumers value above all else are authenticity, transparency, and humanity. This is good news for marketers, especially in the DRTV and direct-to-consumer worlds, as tactics they’ve used for years, including testimonials, are scoring big digital ads. Additionally, it can be kinder to budgets as well. User-generated content, or even content that appears to be user-generated, can also reap huge rewards.

Authenticity will capture peoples’ attention and keep it. People want to watch videos that feel genuine, where it doesn’t feel like a company is immediately trying to sell you something.

The quality of the product and the message behind the ad are most important to consumers, rather than the latest equipment or massive sets. They value integrity and look for shared values between brands and the companies behind them. Avalanche has actually created top-performing ads on multiple platforms this year shot on an iPhone.

According to HubSpot Research, consumers prefer lower quality, “authentic” video over high-quality video that seems artificial and inauthentic.

So the next time you are gearing up for ads, think about content over fluff, authenticity over slickness, and humanity above all.

Boomers: Overlooked by Advertising for Too Long

Boomers: Overlooked by Advertising for Too Long

With the advertising world gravitating to more and more digital plays, many marketers put their focus on Millennials and Gen Z to take center stage as the most valuable consumer groups, but they could not be more wrong.

Although apps like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram have pushed spend for advertising targeting younger age groups, undervaluing Boomers and their potential spending power is a huge mistake.

According to new research from the Federal Reserve, people aged 55+ control 70% of all personal wealth in the US. This often makes them the underdogs of potential target audiences, as they can get overlooked by advertisers wanting to age down their brands in hopes of staying trendy. Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that 56% of new cars are being purchased by older adults, 55% for personal care products, 65% for healthcare, and 68% for home maintenance.

So why are advertiser dollars to Boomers so misappropriated? And how can advertisers leverage their preferences and insights to engage this demographic?

Folks aged 55 plus are also quite digitally savvy. In fact, research has shown that Boomers spend just as much time online as Gen Z. They are also spending more and more of their money online, making them a valuable focus for digital advertisers. In fact, during the pandemic, consumers aged 65 and over became the fastest group of online shoppers, citing data from the NPD Group’s checkout tracking. These consumers spent an average of $1,615 online from January to October 2020, rising by 49% in that year alone. Today, 90% of Boomers shop online, versus 89% in-store, outnumbering Gen Z by almost 20%.

Not only does this very appealing age group purchase online, but they also watch TV, and they actually read. Thus, DRTV offers, print, and direct mail are also very viable advertising vehicles to capture the discretionary spending of this important demographic.

Advertisers have neglected Boomers for far too long. With their collective wealth and vastly underestimated online presence, marketers should allocate appropriate spending to address and engage this hugely valuable consumer segment in all available media outlets.

DTC Health and Wellness Advertising on the Rise

DTC Health and Wellness Advertising on the Rise

The global pandemic sent some advertising categories soaring while bringing others to a screeching halt. OTC (Over-the-counter) healthcare spending has surged after increased demand for healthier practices and health awareness brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consumers are more aware and concerned about their health than ever before. The disruption of traditional OTC distribution channels has opened up countless possibilities for DRTV, infomercial, and digital advertising to promote health products.

Dietary supplements and nutraceuticals are enjoying steady market growth.  This market was worth $353 billion in 2019 according to Grand View Research. There were over 70,000 published articles in PubMed between 2010 and 2020, further validating the benefits of highly studied, powerful ingredients contained in dietary supplements.

To illustrate consumer demand for nutritional supplements, sales increased 5% in 2019 and over 44% in 2020. Consumers are, more than ever, becoming proactive about their health, both from a preventative and restorative standpoint.

Direct-to-consumer advertising of benefits for clinically studied nutritional supplements could be huge for marketers in 2022 and beyond.

The OTC game has changed entirely, and consumers today are more comfortable purchasing OTC products online than ever before, creating new opportunities for growth in advertising, brand awareness, and performance. Pharmacies and supermarkets also face added competition from these online retailers, as they can provide personalized, meaningful content and real-time information, making for a better user experience altogether.

DTC Marketers: Don’t Ignore TikTok ROI

DTC Marketers: Don’t Ignore TikTok ROI

Hand holding iphone with TikTok opened

Tiktok has been named the fastest-growing social media platform of all time, by Forbes. And no, it’s not just for teens. The app has over 1 billion users of all ages across the globe, making it the most explosive social media app to use and advertise on. 

In fact, according to Backlinko, 31.3 % of TikTok users are over 40.

(Source: Backlinko.com)

Tiktok works using a personalized algorithm, which updates as you view, like, and save content. The app learns your preferences and feeds them directly into your “For You” or home page.

Like Instagram and Facebook, paid content is placed within your feed based on its relevance to you and how the advertisers refine their audience.

TikTok trends can be followed, allowing the potential for advertisers to connect with this massive potential audience in a way that feels authentic to users. Smart use of creative as well as hashtags allow for targeting both behavioral and geographic.

The difference between paid and organic content can be difficult to determine, which is especially great for advertisers. And with less competition than Facebook, clicks can cost up to a third of what they are on other platforms.

This makes TikTok an excellent vehicle for DTC advertisers. Because of Tiktok’s massive reach, ads utilizing lead generation for high ticket items or services allows clients marketing those products or services huge ROI. 

Avalanche CEO Ava Seavey says, “The huge return on TikTok advertising for our clients (one is seeing a 30 to 1 return) are stats I have not seen since 1980’s infomercials. It is the most exciting platform for DTC ROI I’ve seen.”

Here are some helpful tips to consider before utilizing TikTok to advertise:

Don’t only make ads. Make TikToks – This is crucial. If you’re going to make the leap into TikTok, you must be ready to produce content that feels native to the platform. Don’t just use existing content from Facebook and Instagram Stories. Slideshows, static images, and slick content are automatically detected as advertising and decrease viewer interest.

Song/sound selection – The use of songs and sounds matters more on TikTok than on any other platform. Another great benefit as opposed to Facebook/Instagram where most users view with the sound off. TikTok users watch with sound.

(Source: Backlinko.com)

Regarding influencer culture on the app, TikTok has an engagement rate of 5.30% on accounts with over 100,000 followers, compared to 1.10% for Instagram and 0.30% for Twitter. It has quickly become one of the main avenues for influencers and micro-influencers to recommend products through testimonial-style videos, Amazon Marketplace affiliate link programs, as well as trendy, creative, or niche videos of any kind.

(Source: Backlinko.com)

The app’s fast-paced nature keeps its users engaged for relatively long periods. With an average session length of 10.85 minutes, it has become the most engaging social media app out today. (Source: Backlinko.com)

For DTC marketers who may be experiencing declining ROI on Facebook, TV, radio, Amazon or other avenues, TikTok can bring you immediate sales and leads and if you get out there before your competition does, you will have even better results.

Buy Now, Pay Later Levels Playing Field

What BNPL is, and how it affects DRTV and DTC

BNPL Buy now pay later online shopping concept.Hands holding mobile phone

The explosion of e-commerce has not only changed the way we buy but how we pay. When the pandemic hit and millions of users flooded to online retailers, several already-existing businesses and ideas were thrown into full gear as they gained popularity. Buy Now, Pay Later, or BNPL, is an installment loan utilized by many online retailers today. With Klarna, Afterpay, Affirm, or simply retailers offering their own plan, BNPL allows consumers to make a purchase and receive it immediately while paying for it over time through a series of installments.

Some plans can come with interest and late fees, but some charge neither. Pricing and plan information varies from company to company.

Allowing a consumer to pay over time can dramatically alter the consumer landscape for marketers. It will give those with poor credit or lack of credit card funds an opportunity to purchase impulse products advertised to them. It also gives marketers a chance to close more sales at minimal risk.

Data shows that consumers buy more when they can pay over time. BNPL gives companies a much wider reach and the ability to expand their target audiences further.

BNPL Buy Now, Pay Later Written on Green Key of Metallic Keyboard. Finger pressing key.

A recent survey found that 1 in 5 U.S. consumers used a BNPL service in the 12 months ended Aug. 20, 2021, and only 1 in 6 of them regretted doing so. 

While this is a boon for marketers with higher price point items, full disclosure of terms is mandatory. In December 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced an inquiry into BNPL, expressing concern about “debt accumulation, lack of regulation, and data harvesting.” The regulator is concerned that borrowers are accumulating too much debt and that consumers’ personal data could be misused.

Last month, the agency demanded information from a handful of the industry’s most prominent players, including Klarna and Afterpay. 

This inquiry notwithstanding, the BNPL option has opened up an excellent opportunity for higher price point items and allows credit-challenged consumers to have an equal playing field for products that otherwise may have been out of reach.

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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