Anton's Direct Talk

Anton's Direct Talk

Over One Billion Dollars Sold

DRTV's ugly truth... Now a better way?

 

Today's low success rates for DRTV campaigns demands a different way of doing business. The large investments for "simply testing" the viability of a campaign is a big part of the problem. Depending on retail sales to pull you over the finish line can be dangerous. These BIG FIVE KEY ELEMENTS  of  direct marketing campaigns are key to your success...It's time to stop playing the lottery!


                                

 


After twenty years of working in this industry it has become clear that alot of things that worked in the past don't work today. However, I see alot of my colleagues working with the same paradigms as in the past which allowed alot of inefficient practices because media ratios were much easier to achieve.  These days the offer has to be so unique and compelling as to overwhelm the odds that are stacked against the DRTV marketer... Maybe not as hard as winning the lottery, but like the lottery you have to "pay to play"...However,  the price of the game is thousands of times higher!

The following are THE BIG FIVE KEY ELEMENTS of successful direct marketing campaigns...They are critical regardless of the media channel and unfortunately, often not properly utlilized by DRTV and other direct marketing professionals:  1) Test quickly and cheaply, 2) Optimize your creative and placments, 3) Drive media costs down, 4) Maximize conversions, and  5) Maximize media allowables.

Unfortunately, the DRTV norm these days is a   less than 1 in 20 success rate. The average cost of testing a new camapign is rising, conversions are dropping, media costs are escalating, creative is stale and margins are under extreme pressure.

It is necessary to make an "honest assessment" of your performance/capabilities in regard to THE BIG FIVE KEY ELEMENTS outlined above.  I encourage you to get out of the "bubble" and the natural tendency of your "internal" team to blame the product, the offer and everything else for your campaign's poor performance. Get an objective outside opinion who can answer the following questions and  do the work  to deliver the results necessary.
  1. Can you drop your testing costs by 50% or more?
  2. Could new creative double your response rate?
  3. Could you reduce your media rates by 50%?
  4. Can you increase conversions by 25% and average order by 25%?
  5. Can you double your media allowables by drving recurring revenues?
Imagine taking an exisiting or dormant campaign and turning it into a homerun instead of walking away after such a large investment. My teams have taken dozens of these DR disasters and created large profitable rollouts by applying these principles. Each one of these key elements when applied correctly can greatly increase your success rate.

You want to be able to confidently say "If we can't make this project work then it will never work!"...At that point, you will have a "plug and play" marketing platform that will make you millions just like the  good-old-days!

Please email me at  chuckanton@brandseedgroup.com     to discuss how to create a sustainable direct marketing platform for your product launches.  Hopefully, we can help you improve a dormant campaign, turbo-charge an existing campaign or help you launch your next multi-million dollar success.
Check out some of our past campaigns at  http://www.brandseedgroup.com .
 I look forward to connecting with you...
Thanks!
Chuck                     

Chuck Anton
President & CEO
BrandSeed Group, LLC
www.BrandSeedGroup.com

Don't sell stuff...Be the content!

"Content is King!". What does this really mean to someone who doesn't own the New York Yankees or Viacom? Successful direct marketing is about becoming the content expert or the domain "go-to source" for a category or product vertical. Can you translate a one time sale (and the affinity of that new customer) into repeat sales like Amazon or E Bay? YES, but you have to think of the "first sale" as the start "not the end"  of a lifetime relationship and stop playing the "Hula-Hoop" DRTV  game!

 

               

 

Here are a few tips from a direct marketing warrior who decided he was tired of looking for the "next big thing" because it was the "only thing" after the last big project died. A few principles that will transform you from a "Hula-Hoop" marketer to a "Content King" with large recurring revenues:

 

  • Continuity is not just in a pill or cream:  Your database of customers when nurtured can provide revenues year after year for your new offers...And, they get cheaper and cheaper to market to the more times your customer buys from you (the beauty of diminishing marketing costs that the content kings cherish!). 
  • Sell information/solutions not stuff: The more solutions you offer the more they return for more and customers become less price sensitive over time...exploding sales and margins. For example, catalogs are another form of continuity and most  have spent millions $$$ to  build their house lists...But, most DRTV companies throw their customers away by stop marketing to them after the first sale.
  • Draft off other content kings : The I-Phone is a content king and a domain leader, so if you sell solutions or applications that work with Apple's I-Phone you win...Over and over again!
  • Remember the power of RFM (Recency-Frequency-Monetary Value): The bottom line is that the most recently a customer bought from you, the more times they have bought from you and the more they spent with you...The more likely they are to buy the next time they see your offer. 
  • Don't outsource your key value proposition : Be the expert of your domain which includes product development, communication, multi-channel interactions and customer service. So, stay in constant contact with your customers.... Offer them solutions they need and they will pay you handsomely.
  • Make sure your customers are invested in you: "One Click Shopping" represents more than the pushing of a button...It represents trust, value, uniqueness and intimate knowledge of your customer. Like a good tailor that has all your sizes and tastes; it is very hard for the Suit Superstore to compete with that relationship!

 

So, to be the content and own the content  requires building a sustainable sales platform and infrastructure that does not re-assemble itself for each new project. Build your company as "one continual project" and then when you find your next "Hula-Hoop"; You will have millions of new customers who grow old with you. Customers are more like milk than wine. ..They can spoil quickly, but if nurtured they can become better with age!

 

Clicks or Phone Calls? ...Ask Apple!

In the multi-channel world of today's direct marketing many product launches drive interest but not action. Action in the world of direct marketing ultimately means making the cash register ring. The more it rings the more you can spend on advertising to drive "profitable" revenues. Clicks and calls have very different values and if you are creating "call friction" you are leaving a lot of money on the table . Steve Jobs figured out the power of a friction-less phone and the cash register keeps on ringing!  READ MORE>>>>
 
                        

 

 

OBAMACARE MEETS THE INFOMERCIAL ?

I have been a "so-called" direct marketing "Guru" since my late twenties. My experience includes bringing many unheard of brands to market and making them into household names selling millions of dollars of innovative new products directly to consumers via a print infomercial concept I pioneered in the 1980's. As I was listening to the snippets of oral arguments from The Supreme Court regarding ObamaCare...    My mind entered "the marketing zone"!         READ MORE>>>>

 

 

THE SECRET TO A HIGH BATTING AVERAGE

The most successful direct marketing companies and great baseball hitters    understand when to swing for the fences and how to get the bat on the ball. In recent years successful campaigns are hard to find ("only" 1 in 20 infomercials succeed), but a few companies have a much greater success rate. These repeat successes are not a matter of luck...There are some key ways to   "make your bat bigger" and to   "slow down the pitch".   The result a higher batting average and the ability to   turn singles and doubles into home-runs   !    READ MORE>>>>

 

WIN AT BLACKJACK AND DIRECT MARKETING?

When I was in college and an engineering student...I loved to play blackjack. I was great at math and learned to count cards giving me an edge on the house.  I got kicked out of a couple of casinos although I wasn't cheating, but because   I was winning   !    READ MORE>>>>

 

 

ARE YOU READY AFTER THE PHONE RINGS?

 

I have worked with  many clients that   do not understand the critical nature of the call center. In fact, many manufacturers and even experienced marketers   turn success into failure     after the phone rings!   READ MORE>>>>

 

 

 

 

THE BEST MEDIA CHANNEL PICKS ITSELF  ...

Over the years I have launched many products for worldwide brands and small inventors who have become large brands. I have done this across multiple channels; Print, Radio, TV, Direct Mail and The Internet (encompasses email, banners, contextual selling, chat and social media). 

 

 

In recent years, I get the same question and/or conclusion from clients even before we run our first test ad...

  • I need to be on the Internet or I need to utilize social media!  
  • Does anyone even read magazines anymore?
  • Isn't radio a thing of the past?        READ  MORE>>>>
 
Chuck Anton

President & CEO

BrandSeed Group, LLC

ChuckAnton@BrandSeedGroup.com

http://www.BrandSeedGroup.com

 

 

 

 

Clicks or Phone Calls? ...Ask Apple!

In the multi-channel world of today's direct marketing many product launches drive interest but not action.  Action in the world of direct marketing ultimately means making the cash register ring. The more it rings the more you can spend on advertising to drive "profitable" revenues. Clicks and calls have very different values and  if you are creating "call friction"  you are leaving a lot of money on the table  . Steve Jobs figured out the power of a friction-less phone and the cash register keeps on ringing!

 
                         

 

Here are a few ways to create your own "friction free" phone and make the cash register ring:

  • Drive phone calls not just clicks...Your design and technology should drive people to call you easily without fear!
  • Your offer needs to build the value of the phone call...Call us today to get your free sample/special discount or for a free consultation.
  • After the phone rings create value...A good call center and good script is the "killer app" that can be the difference between success and failure.
  • People make sales not computers...There is no substitute for knowledgeable and caring communication with your customers...Identifying needs and offering solutions.
  • Sales without people comes at a price...If you are selling a big brand cheaper than anyone else then you will live in that tough world (no people needed and no margins achieved). If you are selling something unique with a unique value proposition then a phone call could put you in the "Apple Zone".
  • All channels can be enhanced with a phone option...Every channel can be enhanced with a well designed call to action that drives phone calls and when they work together you create magic.

 

Understanding the value of driving phone calls is a key to successful product launches and sustained sales growth.There is nothing more "viral" than satisfied customers using your product. The tools available to us to market cheaply across multiple touch points offer tremendous opportunity and challenges. So, when you design your next direct marketing campaign create a "friction-less" transactional platform...  And, don't forget the power of people and the phone!

 

Chuck Anton

President & CEO

BrandSeed Group, LLC

ChuckAnton@BrandSeedGroup.com

http://www.BrandSeedGroup.com

 

 
 

ObamaCare Meets the Infomercial?

 

I have been a "so-called" direct marketing "Guru" since my late twenties. My experience includes bringing many unheard of brands to market and making them into household names selling millions of dollars of innovative new products directly to consumers via a print infomercial concept I pioneered in the 1980's. As I was listening to the snippets of oral arguments from The Supreme Court regarding ObamaCare...  My mind entered "the marketing zone"!

 

 

I asked that key question we ask about all new products under review for a possible product launch. Would or should our company/client spend a lot of money or time on testing the product...Will consumers buy the product, keep the product and keep coming back for more?

 

What if ObamaCare was the product and I was asked to  invest my own money  to produce an infomercial, buy the advertising and sell it directly to consumers...Would I say yes to the ObamaCare test?

 

Here are a  few key questions  we  ask "before" we start spending a lot of time and/or money launching a new product directly to consumers?

 

  • Is the product unique enough  to get someone to pick-up the phone and call us?
  • Does the product solve a big enough problem  that enough people will be interested?
  • Can we explain the product  and the selling proposition to our target market?
  • What can we sell the product for   or how much is the target market willing to pay to solve this problem?
  • Can we make money  at that retail sales price?
  • How much can we invest to acquire a new customer  assuming they buy more of our product(s) in the future?
  • Can we deliver the product  without too much operational complexity and cost?
  • Will the product have any returns issues  or product dissatisfaction that kills customer loyalty?
  • Will the product cause any market "blow-back"  that will hurt the brand in the future?
  • Can we sell this with an "honest" presentation  of the products features and benefits and will it be something we will be proud of selling?
  • Will the product survive long term  against market competition for these target customers?
  • Can we test the product cheaply  and quickly enough with consumers "before" we spend too much money and time to see if it is viable?
  • Finally, do we trust and like the people we   will be working with on the project?

 

So, when analyzing whether we would even "test" the ObamaCare infomercial...I go back to the Supreme Court arguments, the sales presentation of the Solicitor General, the sentiments of the target audience (The American People), the complexity of delivering the product, the ability of people to pay for it, the honesty of the presentation, and the long term survival of the product against free market competition. Finally, I come to a few gut check moments; Do I trust the people I will be working with (politicians and the government) and will my customers (The American People) get the benefits promised in the long run?... Without breaking our bank and theirs!

 

       ****(With difficulty I share the following: In Memory of My Son Chase)****       

 

I also come at this with a real world experience/bias of having to rely on government healthcare when I was young and starting a familyMy company was only a few years old and about $15 million in sales at the time and was funded out of my family's limited resources. I had about 50 employees and had made sure everyone had health care coverage through the company (in fact, got the policy from a friend of mine just starting out himself!)...Our first son, Chase, was diagnosed with Leukemia (cancer) at age 2 and our world was turned upside down. 

 

The insurance was fine until he came out of remission about 1 year later and we were at war with the insurance company trying to get a transplant covered...THEY SAID NO...My company was failing and my child was dying. Out of options I went on The Today Show and in a matter of days friends, family and people from all over the world sent us over $300,000 to pay for the transplant...

 

Devastatingly, my boy, Chase died of a common infection before we could get him on a private jet (donated by a stranger!) to go get his chance at life in Seattle. We had plenty of insurance and government beauracrats deciding our future and providing no help in the end...In fact, my case had been elevated to Bill & Hillary Clinton's office. And, when we flew our son Chase back to bury him at home...I received a letter from President Clinton expressing his sorrow in our loss...And, a couple years later I saw an internal letter on the Internet to the Clinton's; "Now that the Anton's have lost their son maybe they will help us get healthcare passed..."

 

I donated all the money I raised to The National  Children's Cancer Society and raised another $500,000 with a golf tournament in memory of Chase for years thereafter. And, my brother made sure the "free market spoke" driving Prudential Health Insurance (who denied Chase his only chance of survival...A Bone Marrow Transplant) out-of-town with the boycott he waged tirelessly in the Richmond news market. Thankfully, insurance companies cover transplants now and the cure rate for leukemia continues to climb...I believe, my boy, Chase, has saved many lives in subsequent years...

__________ _________****(WE LOVE YOU CHASE!)****  ______________________        

 

I look back on all this years later and say..."How did we get here?" And, I am not prepared to have government or insurance beauracrats make life and death decisions for my family. Somehow we need to  let the free markets be free  like we do when we let consumers vote with their pocket-books when launching a new product to market...And, at the end of the day, the only safety net for all of us is the natural goodness of people who will help a neighbor in need when times get tough...

 

So, my answer to the  ObamaCare Infomercial Test  is a resounding  NO GO  ...This product doesn't pass the sanity check of the free market that is key to "all" successful direct marketing campaigns, there is no FREEDOM of choice that every consumer demands...  And, ObamaCare is certainly NOT FREE!

 

Chuck Anton

President & CEO

BrandSeed Group, LLC

ChuckAnton@BrandSeedGroup.com

http://www.BrandSeedGroup.com

 

 

The secret to a high batting average

The most successful direct marketing companies and great baseball hitters  understand when to swing for the fences and how to get the bat on the ball. In recent years successful campaigns are hard to find ("only" 1 in 20 infomercials succeed), but a few companies have a much greater success rate. These repeat successes are not a matter of luck...There are some key ways to "make your bat bigger" and to "slow down the pitch". The result is a higher batting average and the ability to turn singles and doubles into home-runs !

Great baseball teams and great direct marketing companies share common fundamental elements that make their winning percentages high year after year. The following are some of the key elements that will allow you to win more and hit it out of the park:

 

  • Have a great scouting system : Find the great products and great people before the competition.
  • Have a great farm club : Have a way to test inexpensively and gain experience with each campaign.
  • Have great managers and coaches : Maximize each campaign by optimizing every sales channel.
  • Give players all the tools for success : Use technology to drive down costs and drive-up response.
  • Get hits, fill the bases and score : Profits in Direct Response are a result of managing every detail.
  • Fill the seats and keep them coming back : Attract  new customers and maximize their lifetime value.

 

At BrandSeed we have run many successful campaigns for our clients. One of our key objectives in each project is to build a platform for our clients so they can maximize their hit rate and repeat their successes with a sustainable competitive advantage into the future. We are part of the clients team and we only win when they win!
If you have a product you are bringing to market or one that is already seeing action... We would like to see if we can help you turn singles and doubles into the next home-run...
 
Chuck Anton

President & CEO

BrandSeed Group, LLC

804-677-6104

ChuckAnton@BrandSeedGroup.com

http://www.BrandSeedGroup.com

 
 

Win at blackjack and direct marketing?

When I was in college and an engineering student...I loved to play blackjack. I was great at math and learned to count cards which gave me an edge on the house. In fact, I got kicked out of a couple of casinos in Atlantic City although I wasn't cheating, but because I was winning !

 

After graduating from school as an engineer; I kept playing blackjack on weekends while  at Philip Morris as an operation research analyst. My friends and I kept winning on weekends after a number of drives up to Atlantic City. A few years later I took the entrepreneural leap into direct marketing with my first product a wireless speaker that subsequently "after a lot of learning" sold millions of dollars. 

 

So, my two loves were blackjack and direct marketing although I didn't like any other casino games . A few years into building my first direct marketing company I realized why  my blackjack experience was a great asset to my direct marketing business.

 

Here are the keys to success of any direct marketing campaign or a profitable blackjack session:

 

  • Know your hand and what cards are left in the deck...just like in direct response you need to understand when to "double-down" by analizing your tests and rollout potential.                                                   
  • A good card counter knows when there a lot of good cards left in the deck and bets low when the deck is negative and bets high when it is postive. In direct response marketing the key to success is testing cheaply (small bets) and rolling out quickly when you have a wiinning deck (large bets)...Lose with the small money and win with the big money!

 

  • Play at the games where you have an edge on the house and be fully prepared to take advantage of a good hand. In direct response you create your own deck of cards and it is not luck when you win if you increase your odds by minimnizing the cost of playing (low media costs)...

 

  • And  multiply your winnings by monetizing every element of your good hand/campaign with good creative, good analysis, smart rollout strategies and monetizing every inquiry!

 

So, IF LIKE ME YOU DON'T LIKE GAMBLING...Play at games where you have an advantage and you will win in the long run. If you approach direct response marketing like blackjack and make the deck favorable by paying attention to every detail. ..then you will win over and over again!

 

Chuck Anton

President & CEO

BrandSeed Group, LLC

chuckanton@brandseedgroup.com

http://www.brandseedgroup.com

804-677-6104

 

 

Are you ready "after" the phone rings?

I have worked with many clients that  do not understand the critical nature of the call center. In fact, many manufacturers and even experienced marketers  turn success into failure after the phone rings!

 

 

So, they become "Hula-Hoop" companies...But the next hula-hoop is hard to find...Here are some of the common things that put clients in the hula-hoop business:

 

  • Poor conversions in the call center...if your call center closes at 15% instead of 30% you just doubled your CPO (cost per order) on the same CPC (Cost per Call).
  • Your call center can only close hard offers (disclose full price in ad)...For example, a "free trial" may produce 5 times the number of calls as a hard offer in the ad. If your call center reps are good and have the right scripts they might be able to close 20% of these calls instead of 40% where the price is disclosed. But since you get 5 times the calls and have only 1/2 the close rate...You end up with (5 X 1/2= 2.5) 2.5 times more orders...And rollout potential!
  • Your call center can't upsell effectively...Let say your lead item is only $19.95 to get the phone to ring...But you add premium services and ancillary products and create an average ticket of $80 because of upselling. I have seen many a program fail or succeed based on this...
  • Do you have a call monetization strategy in place?...Lets say 20% close rates in your call center...What do you do with the 80% that were interested but did not buy? I have put in place partnerships and strategies that double the revenue per call by monetizing these unclosed calls...
  • The importance of recurring revenue is often over looked...If I have a $49 vitamin that I give away for enrollling the customer in a in a Healthy Living Club...And, my agents close this 50% of the time...I have just added at least $100 per call in revenue over the next 120 days. And my allowable CPC just tripled!

 

You get the idea...If you optimize every element of your direct campaign; creative, offer, fufillment, returns, media cost and conversions then you can absorb a higher media cost per call and still be successful...And, next thing you know you can have a much higher success rate per dollar tested...This can translate into millions of dollars year after year.

 

We approach our client relationships with this in mind at BrandSeed Group...It is critical to optimize every element of the campaign which can turn good products into the next hula-hoop!

 

Chuck Anton

President & CEO

BrandSeed Group, LLC

804-677-6104

chuckanton@brandseedgroup.com

http://www.brandseedgroup.com

 

 

The best media channel picks itself!

Over the years I have launched many products for worldwide brands and small inventors who have become large brands. I have done this across multiple channels; Print, Radio, TV, Direct Mail and The Internet (encompasses email, banners, contextual selling, chat and social media). 

 

 

In recent years, I get the same question and/or conclusion from clients even before we run our first test ad...

  • I need to be on the Internet or I need to utilize social media!  
  • Does anyone even read magazines anymore?
  • Isn't radio a thing of the past?

 

You get the idea...So, here are a few of  ANTON'S LAWS of MEDIA PLACEMENT :

 

  1. Consumers are consumers...The unique selling proposition does not change because of the media and  consumers don't become different people when they put down their newspapers and begin browsing the Internet.
  2. The best media is that which can be tested the quickest, cheapest and has the best roll out potential.
  3. The goal of any campaign is to maximize profitable revenues in "ALL" channels.
  4. If you can't measure it don't run the ad!
  5. The best media source is the one that produces the most sales per ad dollar spent and many times a "less sexy" media source can be priced right and produce millions in profitable sales.
  6. Anything is a potential media source as long as it generates sales...I once negotiated with General Mills to put my ad on the back of their cereal boxes on a PI basis...Lots of cereal boxes, captive audience and better than any social media buy I have ever seen!

 

So, at the end of the day...The media channel picks itself and if you can develop low cost media relationships they can be a source of millions of dollars in revenues and success year after year.

 

Chuck Anton

President & CEO

BrandSeed Group, LLC

804-677-6104

ChuckAnton@BrandSeedGroup.com

http://www.BrandSeedGroup.com

 

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