DRTV is a valuable channel for bringing new products to market. And it has been widely embraced by retailers as an effective driver of sales. Just look at the success of category leaders like Oreck Vacuums or Bose Home Audio, and the prevalence of “As seen on TV” shelf displays at your local Target or Walgreens.
But be careful! Retail distribution and early sales growth can lead to a false sense of your product’s place in the consumer’s mind.
It’s tempting for marketing managers to shift their advertising focus to elevating their brand image once they start to gain sales momentum. But this is a delicate time in the life of your product or service, and turning away from DRTV too soon may undo a lot of what you worked so hard to accomplish.
So, how do you know what to do when you reach that fork in the road? Here are some guidelines to help determine whether to stay the course and keep DRTV in your marketing mix:
- How new is the category? If you are the leader in a relatively new product category, there is a lot of potential ahead of you. But in order to reach that potential, there is still a lot of educating to do. You need to keep DRTV as part of your mix.
- What is the consumer life cycle for the product? Is your product something that a wide demographic (Adults 18+) may use for years to come, or is it only relevant for a limited time, like an educational service or life-stage product? If it’s the latter, there is likely to be high churn in your prospect universe, with new consumers entering and existing consumers leaving. A DRTV strategy is the best to use because these new consumers need to be educated and motivated to try your product. After all, that’s why you used it in the first place.
- Do you have a unique solution that separates you from the competition? Even in a mature category, unique product benefits may warrant a break from general awareness form. True, share of voice is important. But keep DRTV elements in your messaging, and incorporate a call-to-action for extended engagement to make sure your voice is heard.
- Has technology changed the way people use, and may benefit from your product/service? New technology can be a game changer for mature categories like automotive, where breakthroughs in infotainment, fuel efficiency,or safety warrant longer commercial units and messaging that will drive consumers to the wealth of support material (in most cases digital content) that has already been created for marketing. Think DRTV.
- What role does lead generation play in your marketing mix? If you still need to aggressively grow your CRM database, the last thing you want to do is walk away from DRTV.
The road to sustainable product growth is filled with detours. When faced with the decision to adjust your strategy, it is important to recognize what led to your initial success, and understand the challenges and opportunities presented by your category and the consumer marketplace. There is a good chance you’ll find that DRTV can keep you in the express lane to success.
Rob Schmidt is an Account Supervisor at A. Eicoff & Co., one of North America’s largest DRTV agencies.