How Direct Response TV "Raises All Boats" - Irv Brechner

By Acquirgy Archives
Cover image for  article: How Direct Response TV "Raises All Boats" - Irv Brechner

If you've ever been at a marina when the tide comes in, you'll see the incoming surge of water raise all the boats, regardless of size. Think of the surging water as Direct Response TV (DRTV) and the boats are other advertising tactics and channels, such as print, search, banners, direct mail, retail, etc.


DRTV is unique in many ways, but perhaps the most important is that it's ubiquitous. TV is everywhere. In numerous rooms in our homes. At our offices. At the airport. In bars and restaurants. And on and on. TV is everywhere. And now, online in a big way. No other media offers the combination of audio and video and the ability to tell a story like TV does. That's why it's such an important part of our lives.

Americans watch 6+ hours of TV every day. They don't view other forms of advertising nearly as often. They are loyal to their favorite shows. They schedule activities around when their shows are on. They buy devices to tape their shows. You get the picture.

With hundreds of DRTV campaigns under our belt, we know for a fact just how much DRTV impacts other channels. We know how the DRTV tide raises the "SS Search" and the "SS Social" and the "SS Web" – the "boats" in the DR marina.

While we know DRTV impacts a wide range of channels and tactics, we think the most prominent example is how DRTV impacts search. We keep very close tabs on how SEM activity – impressions, clicks and sales – relates to DRTV media spending.


This chart clearly shows that SEM sales (burgundy line) for this particular client parallels the DRTV media spend (blue line). Most of the orders came in by phone and web, so this program was profitable. The lesson here is just how close the "SS Search" boat is being lifted by the DRTV tide. Take a moment to look at how close the blue and burgundy lines parallel each other.

Let's talk for a minute about how DRTV impacts retail sales. If you have solid retail or dealer distribution, DRTV can be a major force to drive consumers into the store, even though the commercial only gives a phone number and/or web URL as a means to respond. What happens is that consumers who "want it now" and/or don't want to pay shipping, know which stores carry "As Seen On TV" products and go pick them up in person. The industry rule of thumb is that for every direct-to-consumer sale made, another 3 to 10 are made at retail. So look at DRTV as raising the biggest yacht in your marina – retail.

The lesson here is that it is critical that you have a plan to take advantage of DRTV's unique power. This includes understanding this phenomenon and embracing the use of it. It also includes learning how DRTV also impacts retail, much in the same way it impacts other channels and ad tactics. Chances are you're in one of two boats:

· If you currently use DRTV, you've probably experienced how it "raises all boats" but are you truly able to quantify the surge? Are you able to track inquiries and orders that occur online and via search from your DRTV advertising? If not, you're missing a big opportunity.

· If you're not currently using DRTV, and you have a consumer product or service with a wide range of appeal, start looking into this exciting medium. DRTV has changed materially over the last two decades and is now used extensively by mainstream companies. DRTV continues to raise a lot of boats – perhaps your fleet can be a part of the next surge!

So the next time you look at your marina of advertising tactics and channels, think about the role of DRTV in raising your boats.

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Irv Brechner has written over 100 published direct marketing articles and 13 books on a variety of topics. He's been a pioneer in online customer acquisition since 1996 and offline for his 35-year career. He has developed's "Customer Acquisition Intel Center" ( ) he evangelizes best-of-breed tactics to help companies acquire customers in the digital age. He can be reached at: .

Read all Irv's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Customer Acquisition Intel.

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