Doug Garnett’s Blog


Drive Your DRTV Success by Testing BEFORE Scripting

Saw a press release this morning from a DRTV business claiming to have “validated” a “test before investing strategy”. (Link Here.)

The announcement is from As Seen on TV. And it’s an odd announcement for quite a few reasons:

Why would they think a “Test Before You Invest” new? Companies have known that these strategies save millions for, um, say – hundreds of years.

This is one of DRTV’s weak spot. In the traditional yell & sell DRTV business, there’s this curmudgeonly disbelief about any testing except hard core sales results. On the other hand, I’ve taken hundreds of campaigns through research & test processes for DRTV in my 20 years in the business. Advance research proves to also be exceptionally successful in DRTV (when modified to fit with our unique challenges). At Atomic, we help companies avoid investing where they shouldn’t and help them invest better when they do.

Hmmm. So maybe they created a new method. Their release notes that they tested 3 products on live TV and they sold well. Um, yes? And….? People do THIS all the time and have for a few decades.

Maybe they’re claiming that these live shopping tests prove the products can be successful DRTV products. That might be newsworthy. But they don’t actually say that.

So all this leaves us with a widely publicized announcement that doesn’t say anything.

The truth is that you CAN and SHOULD use advance testing to creates successful DRTV campaigns. It should start with consumer research to get the most reliable results. And continue with a methodical test regime.

But most DRTV agencies (even the biggest brand ones) lack the discipline to use testing to succeed. Most don’t know what types of testing drive success. And it’s an extremely rare agency that produces finished work that has learned from the testing. Most often, producers are given testing then just do whatever they would have done without it…and run headlong into failure the vast majority of the times.

It’s a good thing that As Seen on TV cares enough to talk about testing. But, it’s too bad they didn’t really do what their release headline suggests.

Here’s, then, what I recommend: Do advance testing to improve your DRTV success rates. But take care. Live shopping tests are historically unreliable. Quite often, products which succeed on HSN will fail when they try to transition to DRTV.

And that means, we’re left with what has always been known in marketing. If you use consumer research to guide your project (BEFORE you put pen to paper scripting), you will improve your DRTV success rates…if you also ensure that what you find makes it into the production and campaign execution. (Here’s an article I wrote in Response magazine on this topic.)

Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett – All rights Reserved

Categories:   Business and Strategy, Communication, Direct Response, Innovation, Research & Attribution


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