Monday, September 22, 2008

Case Study: ASPCA and DR Television

For the right marketer, direct response television can be an excellent channel for lead and sales generation. Or, in this case donation-generation (is that even a correct term?).

Take a look at this DM News article: DRTV shows off new tricks. The article goes into nice detail about short-form verses long-form and articulates the challenges of measuring a multi-channel strategy. I've summarized their program by quoting bits and pieces of the article below.

Television footage featuring adorable dogs, cats and other household pets elic­its an emotional response from nearly everyone. So it's no surprise that direct response television (DRTV) has come to play a major role in the marketing strategy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which relies on one-time and monthly donations to fund programs related to animal-assisted therapy, animal poison control, animal cruelty, humane education, legislative services and shelter outreach.

Multi-Channel Challenges
“There's not just one mode of response [any­more],” says Loreen Babcock, CEO of agency Unit 7, which handles a wide variety of DRTV programs. Dealing with multiple call to action options can be challenging, she adds: “We have a pretty good feel for the benefit of having more than one type of communication, but not neces­sarily the frequency and the timing.”

Michelle Cardinal, CEO and president of Cmedia, agrees that one call to action just isn't enough anymore — today's DRTV campaigns must also drive to a URL. “You won't survive if you don't understand that it's no longer just about 1-800 numbers,” she says, pointing out that DRTV and the online channel used to be on “different planets.” Now, she explains, “[companies need] to bring them together to see how they complement each other.”

Froehlich has seen this firsthand, as the ASPCA's DRTV program has evolved since its inception. “There's been a lot of crossover and multichannel fundraising going on,” he says. But the length and target audience its DRTV spots have also changed significantly, because of the changing television space, proliferation of channels and shifting viewer habits.

Experts emphasize that companies that have made DRTV a central part of their marketing over the years now need to cover all their bases with a broader spectrum of media that can integrate with the DRTV channel. Froehlich insists that the ASPCA now has a “pretty savvy” Web strat­egy, and that ASPCA's direct mail efforts have improved over the past few years — which he suspects is due to consumers' increased brand awareness from the DRTV program.

“There's that wonderful ‘halo effect,' which is the rub-off that TV brings to aid in the sales of products through other distribution chan­nels,” explains Kirby. “So television educates, informs and creates emotion and impulse, but the consumer may elect to execute the transaction online.” This is why it's critical to link the digital and TV experiences in terms of the messaging and the creative, he continues.

“DRTV is successful when you take a highly complex and emotional problem and offer a simple solution that passionate people can do on their own,” says Steve Froehlich, senior director of direct response at the ASPCA, which has raised more than $40 million since its DRTV program launched in February 2004.

“DRTV still leverages the [dominant] mass medium of our time — television,” Kirby says, pointing out that the channel lends itself to emo­tion and impulse, which are important elements in making a sale, and it is also accountable. “So, while TV media is very fragmented, DRTV can still build awareness for a brand and make cost of advertising self-liquidating when the product is sold directly to the consumer,” he continues.

“The future is about understanding the relation­ship between DRTV and online behavior,” Peter­son adds. “When you can show direct correlations, that's the endgame for anyone in DRTV.”

1 comment:

Nancy said...

What a handsome dog! : ) Great case study, too. This is such an insightful blog.

Keep up the good work!