DRTV: As Easy As Pie?


As easy as pie?

I've always wondered about the origin of this phrase because pies aren't especially easy to make. It’s part science, part art—and not altogether different from DRTV media buying.

Did I just compare buying media to making a pie? I did. Working for the largest direct response television (DRTV) agency in the country and coming from a long line of pie makers, I feel this is an analogy I am qualified to make.

With a pie, you begin with a scientific formula (commonly known as a recipe). It tells you what ingredients to use and how much, and then provides a step-by-step set of instructions. Followed correctly, this will yield a perfect award-winning pie every time.

And if you believe that, I have some prime TV time I’d like to sell you.

The truth is, you might get a decent result this way, but you’re not going to collect any major hardware at the National Pie Championships. Not by a Betty Crocker long shot.

Because there’s another ingredient needed that you won’t find in any recipe: experience.

You can follow a recipe all you want, but you simply cannot underestimate the experience of the person wearing the apron. The baker still has to use judgment about maybe adding more flour on humid days… letting the dough rest in the refrigerator for longer than the recipe calls for (if it's not coming together well)… or even knowing exactly when to take the finished pie out of the oven.

Just like with making a pie, we apply a similar approach to media buying. We start with a recipe—in this case a wealth of data from a very sophisticated database and buying system called CoreDR (which we helped develop). And then, of course, we need to use judgment.

Say a client airs a spot during the midday news and it doesn’t achieve the desired cost per response. Was it because it was a slow news day?  Was it because Dr. Oz—running at the same time on a different channel—had a major celebrity as a guest and drew viewers away from the news? Or was this a sign of a downward trend, which should trigger a negotiation for lower rates with the station immediately?  

As you can see, it takes an experienced buyer to interpret this data and help you get those “pie in the sky” results you could only dream of (sorry, I couldn’t resist). And obviously, the more experience a buyer has, the better the judgment. The buyers at Eicoff have an average of TWELVE years’ experience in buying media and use that expertise every day to help our clients' bottom line.

Let me leave you with one last tip: if you want a flakier piecrust, science tells us that substituting some water with vodka really helps. And if you think you can achieve optimal DRTV media results without relying on experience, you may also want to get your hands on some vodka.