Here you will find informative articles published in many industry trade journals on the effective use of DRTV.
TACTICS TO ENHANCE YOUR DRTV INVESTMENT – DMNews.com, March, 2011
Four ways traditional advertisers can best take advantage of DRTV
REJUVENATE YOUR INSURANCE MARKETING PROGRAMS WITH DRTV – Producers Source, March 2011
Effective advertising for financial services
GOOD LEAD-INS CAN BOOST INFOMERCIAL RESULTS – TVNewsCheck, November 2010
Better programming benefits infomercial revenue
IS THIS JUST A DOWN CYCLE – ER, August 2010
Ups and downs of media, but TV is bound to stay
BUYING MEDIA – MANAGING EXPECTATIONS – ER May, 2010
Nothing is as constant as change….also for media buyers
THIS IS ONLY A TEST – ER, April 2009
The importance of media tests
NATIONAL OR LOCAL – EASY DOES IT – ER, January 2009
Why we prefer a national test
IS THIS A TOUGH MEDIA ENVIRONMENT – ER, October 2008
Looking at positives in an economic downturn
INTERVIEW WITH DAN ZIFKIN – ER DRTV Guide, 2006
Dan shares his insights and expertise on DRTV
THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE – ER, May 2008
Does political ad spending affect demand for DR advertising time?
JUST ADD…ZEPHYR MEDIA GROUP -Target Marketing, October 2007
Support your traditional advertising campaigns with our expertise in DRTV
PRODUCING DRTV CAMPAIGNS: PLAY BY THE RULES – DM News, special DRTV edition, September 2007.
Be creative, but know what works in DRTV and stick with it.
DIRECT TO CONSUMER ADVERTISING: TAKING A FRESH APPROACH – DTC, September 2007
Benefits of advertising for prescription drugs with long-form infomercials
BUILD TRAFFIC AND AWARENESS FOR MEETINGS USING DRTV AND MOBILE MARKETING – MeetingFocus.com, April 2007.
Innovative ways to create event awareness and increase participant traffic
TV INFOMERCIALS OFFER CURE FOR SLUGGISH SALES – Home Health Products, February 2007
Smart use of half hour infomercials increase customer leads and sales
WHERE IS DRTV HEADED NEXT YEAR? – DM News (electronic format), December 2006
We offer a few insights, not predictions on what next year will bring
INFOMERCIALS SELL WELL – Ward’s Dealer Business, October 2006
Automotive advertising – stand out from the crowd with an infomercial
THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS – ER, August 2006
How DRTV success differs depending on the type of advertiser
SUCCESS IN SPORTS HELPS INFOMERCIALS SHED INFERIORITY COMPLEX – Sports Business Journal, June 2006.
DRTV and sports products make for powerful sales
ADVERTISING ROI: DRTV’s FAVORITE SON – ER, June 2005.
DRTV is the gold standard of media return-on-investment analysis for advertisers
If you're going to actively look into direct response TV for your product or service, then you need to know as much as you can about the subject. Knowledge is power. And if you want to build a powerful direct response campaign, then you need to understand how it works, what the different types are, and how you go about putting it all together.
- Long form advertising: Half-hour television programs that provide a powerful platform to market your product or service in an in-depth, detailed fashion. Also known as Infomercials.
- Short form advertising: The one or two minute commercials that sell a product directly to the consumer. Often called "direct response" or "DR".
- Planning and marketing your direct response campaign: A list of logistics issues and costs–everything you need to make informed decisions about taking your product to television with a direct-sale or lead-generating approach.
Are infomercials and direct response ads the same thing?
Yes, for the most part. Messages designed to sell directly to consumers via television come in two types: short form and long form. The long form messages are more commonly called Infomercials and are generally 30 minutes in length. The short form messages – often called Direct Response ads – are from 1 to 2 minutes long. Zephyr Media Group, and others in our industry, often lump both short and long form formats into one broad category: Infomercials Direct Response TV. Both types of messages are direct sales ads that offer a toll-free number and an Internet address to purchase a product and/or generate leads for the marketer if a service is offered.
Where do infomercials and direct response messages air?
Long form infomercials are scheduled on stations and networks as stand-alone programs in half-hour time slots and will air in time periods called Paid Programming. The time periods are primarily morning and afternoon slots during the weekend, and/or during the overnight or early morning weekday hours. Short form direct response ads are purchased and scheduled on either local television stations or national cable networks and air during normal program commercial breaks. Short form commercials can run at just about any time of day, depending on price paid and advertiser preference.
What are some of the things that I will need to plan for if I want to run a short or long form infomercial campaign?
It's a multi-step process, but one that is designed to be economically efficient. There is more involved then just grabbing a video recorder and rolling the tape to make things happen. Don't be told otherwise!
Here are a series of steps that are normally followed to bring a short or long form message to air:
- Identifying the right talent and production personnel to do the job
- Developing the program concept and outlining it
- Scripting the ad
- The actual production
- Editing and performing necessary post-production tasks
- Planning and negotiating the media schedules
- Dubbing and shipping tapes to stations and networks
- Partnering with an inbound call center to handle toll-free calls
- Creating a web presence for your prospects who prefer to order online
- Scripting and training of staff
- Setting up a connection with a fulfillment operation to process orders
- Finding a shipping mechanism to get the product to your customers
- Managing a set of data analysis tools to gauge the overall effectiveness of the campaign
While it may seem complicated, Zephyr Media Group can bundle much of what is outlined here into a neat package of services at very affordable costs. We can work with you either on all the pieces or on an a la carte basis. Talk to us about your DRTV needs!
How do I decide whether a long form infomercial or short form direct response ad is best for me?
You might help answer that question best yourself! Based on your responses to the following questions, you will be able to decide whether Short Form or Long Form will be better for you.
- Can I say all that I need to say about my product in less than two minutes and still allow time to repeat the call-in information and other necessary contact points? If so, short form can work for you.
- Do I have a low price point or low out-of-pocket purchase price that makes it easy for the viewer to act on my message and make an impulse purchase? If so, short form may be the best answer for you.
- Do I have a complicated or demonstrative message and a price point that is asking the viewer to make a sizable purchase – maybe in excess of $49 – or one that might require several monthly payments to purchase? If so, long form might be better for you.
- Is my product or service a very different or new way to deal with a problem, entertain, or make life easier? Is it a real "first-to-the-market" item? If so, long form may be a preferable choice for you.
- Do I feel I need to engage the viewer in a non-competitive, non-cluttered environment in order to persuade her or him to make this considered purchase? Does a minute or two within another program or near other advertising create the possibility that I might get lost in the shuffle? If so, then long form is the way to go.
How expensive is it to produce a direct response ad or infomercial?
It depends. As anything else having to do with creative and advertising, there are many variables in the production process, which makes quoting prices extremely difficult and undesirable. A price quote on infomercial production is best determined when a clear idea of the finished product is communicated.
Short Form, quite obviously, can be produced for much less than long form programs. And while Long Form infomercials may cost more to produce, they engage viewers who actively seek to devote time to learning about a product or service. Cost and attention/attentiveness are trade offs, as is the price of your item or service. Zephyr Media Group can help you think through the approach that best fits your budget and product/service.
Does Zephyr Media Group do infomercial production or are you just a media company?
We are primarily a media company that has extensive experience in:
- market and network selection,
- negotiation of excellent schedules and rates,
- contractual work with stations and networks,
- tracking of call-in and sales volume,
- other related tasks and important administrative duties.
But we can also get the entire direct response campaign job done for you. We have strategic alliances with other companies that allow us to provide you with the other necessary components of a direct response commercial:
- first-rate direct response/infomercial production
- telemarketing expertise
- website creation and design
- quick fulfillment capabilities, etc.
What if I have my infomercial production completed already or have an existing arrangement in place? Will Zephyr Media Group do business with me?
Yes! Zephyr Media Group is flexible to its clients' goals and needs. We make it a priority to arrange the best type of working relationship that is most beneficial to you. With our wide range of services, the best media planning and placement operation in the business, excellent negotiating expertise and extensive relationships with prominent industry players- we can help you with any component of your campaign.
Should I test my direct response ad program first? And for how long?
Yes, we recommend that you test your campaign for at least several weeks, using a modest degree of scheduling frequency. You'll need to use the aggregate data from the test-run in order to assess the impact your message is having. The feedback will help to determine whether your campaign is fine-tuned or not, whether you should adjust your pricing, or- in extreme cases- make significant changes in the message and/or production. The key is message frequency: you must run your direct response effort often enough during a test phase to see if it resonates with prospects and viewers.
Can you test my call center activity?
Absolutely. There are daily reports put forth by the call center that provide real insights into how callers and viewers are responding to the TV offer. It determines how well the call agents process the calls, deal with the callers, can sell other related product offers, etc.
Do you use certain local markets to test a direct response TV campaign?
No. Generally we test direct response campaigns on national cable networks because they provide the best testing base. They can be selected for targeted audiences by age, gender, income level, etc., while offering vast economies of scale versus local market TV.
How expensive is it to purchase media time?
Media costs – like production costs – vary widely. Media time costs differ by time of day, time of year, ratings of the programs during which the ads air (for short form), and the size and "quality" of the market. For this reason, it is better to lay out the parameters of a theoretical buy, agree on the components, and obtain sample market pricing in order to build the foundation of a real media plan. Zephyr Media Group will work with you to insure that the media time estimates we establish are accurate reflections of market conditions.
Can one buy a direct response ad schedule without paying regular media costs?
There are ways to buy media time on networks and stations that do not require the outlay of upfront cash. Stations and networks will sometimes offer to sell commercial space for short form ads on a "per inquiry" (PI) basis. The airtime for a PI ad is paid for with a percentage of the sales revenue generated by that ad. This revenue-sharing arrangement requires the station or network to have access to verified information from the advertiser's telemarketing logs and records. A major drawback to PI advertising is the limited clearance: stations only run PI ads when and where they can't sell the time to someone else willing to pay cash for TV time. This severely restricts when you might air, if at all. Negotiating something similar for long form infomercials is a bit more problematic. Zephyr Media Group is not a proponent of per-inquiry advertising for most DRTV campaigns.
How long can I air my ad before I have to consider creating a new one?
If you have a well-made direct response ad that has been tested carefully, it could stay on the air for quite a while! Many infomercials run for several months and continue to be effective selling tools. Some of the better long form ads have been in the market for several years, with only the offer, price, or select terms changed to reflect current opportunities. Short form messages can show excellent staying power as well, and can be easily modified with low-cost production tweaks.
Why do you suggest I use a separate Internet site/URL for a direct response campaign?
So we can accurately identify which leads or sales you generate on the Internet are the direct result of the TV campaign. Direct response TV is all about measurement and accountability- we want to know exactly how well your message is doing and what specific traffic it is driving to the phone number or web site.
How do inbound call centers work? Can't I just use my own agents to handle this?
Inbound call centers are companies that are skilled in working with callers and making sales. Call centers charge a set up fee, which covers their upfront costs, training the agents, writing the telephone script,etc. Then they charge you on a per-minute basis for the calls handled or on a commission basis. It is important to use a call center as opposed to one of your own agents because call centers specialize in understanding how to sell your product or service, unlike your own customer service operator. We can work with you to determine the best cost options for your situation.
How do fulfillment houses work? Can't I just ship product myself?
Fulfillment houses specialize in TV sales shipping. You can self-fulfill if you have the ability to warehouse your product, can arrange to interact electronically to process orders from the call center, and ship in a timely fashion. However, the costs of working with a fulfillment house are surprisingly affordable, and can even make you a modest profit in certain situations. We can work with you to identify what's best for your situation.
What if I have a great idea, have patented or protected it, but need funding to get it manufactured and marketed? Can Zephyr Media Group help me?
While Zephyr Media Group is a not a funding, investing, or licensing company, we do have relationships with firms that are in those businesses. Capital may be available to bring your idea to market, provided your product is found to be unique, compelling, marketable and potentially profitable. If you're willing to share a portion of your sales and profits in exchange for access to funding, we're willing to see if we can find you help. Let us know what your situation is.
Do the sources of capital you know license product? How do they work?
Funders and investors operate in different ways, depending upon their business model. Some will license product, others provide funds for media testing and buying only. Others are interested in percentage-of-sales and "back end" profit participation. Contact us and we'll give you more details.
How do you go about determining the overall cost of a direct response or infomercial campaign? How do you ensure that you avoid the pitfalls of learning about hidden or unplanned costs as you embark on such a campaign? How will you tell what the true costs will be with "no surprises?"
It's important to understand that there are a number of vital components that comprise the pieces involved in a successful direct response campaign. The finished product you see on-air is the tip of the planning iceberg–so much more goes on "below the water" that is not seen by the viewer. If you're going to properly plan to market your product or service on television, you'll need to take a series of important steps to make your short form TV message or your half hour program is a prospecting or selling success.
Zephyr Media Group has developed a checklist of procedures, steps, and necessities that are crucial elements of most any direct response campaign. Depending on your objectives, marketing proposition, and overall goals and intent, you need to consider planning and budgeting for them–or at least understand why some or all of them are upfront considerations. Make sure you include these in your campaign planning when budgeting your effort. Remember: no surprises!
If you work with Zephyr Media Group, we'll review each of the following with you:
- Program Planning & Production–from concept development to the completed commercial or infomercial
- Media Time Costs
- Videotape Duplication for Stations/Networks
- Inbound Call Centers
- Internet "Landing" or selling pages
- Fulfillment House Fees (various customer service/merchant costs, order processing, shipping, etc.)
- Sales Administration
If you'd like to review a more in-depth breakout of how these pieces of the infomercial marketing plan fit together to insure the success of your effort, visit our direct response TV checklist. We'll get you familiar with how Zephyr Media Group makes sure all the necessary components are thoroughly and thoughtfully discussed and built into your cost equation.
Getting a long or short form marketing campaign up and running is more than just taking your product idea, producing the video spot or program, airing it, and generating sales. There's more to the process to make your campaign run smoothly and efficiently.
Zephyr Media Group has developed this modest "checklist" that we use when working with an existing or prospective client, and we urge you to do the same in your marketing planning. It's our rundown of the items that have to be dealt with at some point in the overall process-and it's better if you are aware of the need to deal with them early on in your thinking. Beware the DRTV marketers who only quote the cost of producing the commercial message!! We at Zephyr Media Group believe in the "no surprise" approach when working with you to develop a relationship.
Does this mean a direct response campaign has to be costly? Not at all. We can work with you to find the right pieces, partners and sources to manage the entire process while minimizing your outlay. We want your marketing effort to be a cost effective, highly-successful undertaking.
Things you need to think about are listed here and are included in the cost you will be quoted in each category…
Program Planning and Production
- Interviewing/hiring appropriate firm/individuals
- Remote production crew
- Studio production crew
- Editing services
- Audio recording services
- Graphics and animation
- Network vs. local station determination
- Test market(s) activity
- Rollout effort
- Ongoing campaign spending
Tape Duplication & Distribution
- Selling/landing page
- Separate URL for TV leads/sales
- Integration with existing website content
- Interviewing/hiring appropriate firm/individuals
- Scripting, training of team
- Budgeting of call fees, line charges
- Interviewing/hiring appropriate firm/individuals
- Order processing
- Shipping/freight costs
- Returns processing
- Inventory control/restocking
Overall Sales Administration
- Media billing and invoicing
It sounds like a big job, but it's manageable with the right partner who understands all the elements and can work with you and for you. We promise you that experience at Zephyr Media Group.
In direct response TV, there are two ways in which to mount a campaign. Each has its place in a marketing effort that's designed to promote a product or service directly to viewing prospects via a TV offer, driving them to a website for more information and ordering, generating qualified leads, and working to build the kind of product and brand awareness that pays off in retail distribution and bringing even more sales success.
In direct response TV, marketers either use long form or short form advertising. Don't be led astray by suggestions that run counter to Zephyr Media Group's experience and common sense. Here's what we mean by each and how each is used…
Long Form advertising…this is what is commonly known as the infomercial. Long form infomercials are those half-hour programs seen primarily on national cable networks and local TV stations, especially (but not exclusively) in the overnight and early to mid morning hours of the day, especially weekends. Additionally there are more channels on cable and satellite systems that are dedicated to airing half-hour infomercial blocks of programming.
Zephyr Media Group recommends you consider a long form campaign if you….
- Have a product or service that is not a low cost item: items in excess of $50 often are long form
- Have a complicated story or message to convey
- Have a need to provide in-depth set of demonstrations
- Have a series of user testimonials or category experts who are vital to the selling process
Short Form Advertising…that is commonly referred to as the direct response TV or DRTV spot or commercial. Short form spots air just about anywhere in traditional network or station commercial breaks at all hours of the day and night.
Zephyr Media Group recommends short form campaigns when…
- The product or service is lower cost and impulse in nature: the classic $19.99+ item or offer
- The idea can be conveyed fast and easy: an “I get it” kind of offer
- The message can be demonstrated quickly and easily
- The experts or testimonial givers can make their point quickly
As you might expect, there are cost differences and implications in mounting a long form versus short form campaign. Let us help you make the smart and fiscally prudent decision that helps you avoid costly mistakes. There's more information on that trade-off in our FAQ section.