Complete Video Production
Corporate and Commercial Scriptwriting
Website Design & Implementation
DRTV Production & Consultation
Considering DR? Consider this first:
You've got a great product. You know its going to sell a million units. But now you have to get the word out. Your best bet is Direct Response Television. Read on to find out why.
From the sellers' point of view, Direct Response enables you to reach the greatest amount of consumers in the shortest amount of time and measure that response immediately.
From the consumers' point of view, DRTV has beome a highly accepted way to buy quality products in a convenient manner. It is now easy to buy trusted, recognized brands from the comfort of your living room and have them delivered to you within days. All you need is a phone and a credit card.
Who buys from television? Everyone! According to recent demographic studies, infomercials are most watched by a middle-income audience: primarily the married white female homeowner with an income in the 56k range. All in all, not a bad market to have at your disposal.
A Brief History of Direct Response
Direct Response Television has been around since the 1950's in various forms. The real renaissance for the medium began in the early eighties with the debut of the Home Shopping channel out of Florida and QVC based in Pennsylvania. There are three basic formats:
Direct pitch to camera where a host or hostess explains the product then implores you to buy, buy buy.
Short commercials from thirty seconds to two minutes in length. From cellulite cream to car wax, this format has been used to sell everything. You tend to find these either on late night TV or in the early morning where broadcast time can be bought cheaply.
The thirty minute infomercial. These programs are perfect if you are trying to sell a more complex product with several features and benefits. Do you remember the Blu Blocker ads? Originally broadcast in the mid-eighties, it became the template for the infomercial over the past twenty years. Though there have been many variation on the theme, the main goal is to educate and entertain. A well informed customer is a happy customer. Infomercial's for the most part have (3) segments or pods punctuated by a call to action at the end of each pod.
Traditionally it is best to go "long" rather than "short", especially if you are trying to educate the consumer about a more complex product. It gives you plenty of time to overcome objections while you keep on selling.
The Evolution of DRTV
Although the prime market for DR is still vanity products (diet plans, exercise machines, and cellulite reduction creams), DRTV has been used to sell everything form cooking gadgets to timeshares to dating services.
DRTV has evolved to an extremely legitimate phase. Brand advertising has been blended with Direct Response technique to create a more powerful selling tool. Today there are many ads by Fortune 500 companies that prominently display 1-800# or website addresses throughout the commercial. From All State to CIBC, financial companies and insurance companies have embraced DRTV as well. One of the best examples of this is the TD Waterhouse campaign with Sam Waterston as the spokesperson.
What products and services do well on DRTV?
DRTV traditionally has targeted the consumer with products that promise well being (e.g. health, beauty, exercise and diet). Direct Response is now being used for lead generation in the financial and insurance industry, promoting products from credit cards to estate planning.
In Canada the Sympatico ads that appear on TSTV have done extremely well in generating leads and sales for Bell Canada.
The DRTV Production Process
This is a representative timeline for the DR process from idea to broadcast.
- Creative brain storming. Determine the best format (long or short) for your campaign. What will the commercial achieve? Is it intended for lead generation or product sale?
- Contract of call centre/fulfillment house. There are several in the Toronto area that handle both the call and distribution of the product.
- The client approves the creative, budget and timeline are prepared. At this point you would have your legal department involved to evaluate content.
- Pre production begins At this point we start writing the script, choosing the talent, arrange for locations or sets
- Production - anywhere from two weeks to a month depending on what creative is involved.
- Off line edit, two to three weeks from rough cut to final approval
- Approval of program by the broadcaster. In the states it is the FCC in Canada. This is a Canadian body formed by the cable companies that makes sure an ad is suitable for air.
- Approval of media test plan
- Purchase of media
- Final approval of master - versioning or completion 1-800 masters for various TV markets
- Your commercial is broadcast, (this is the test phase) you wait for the phones to ring. And as Tom Petty has said, "the waiting is the hardest part." The fulfillment agency provides you with daily reports on how well the spot is doing.
- Media test review - Hard stats that reveal who is responding and at what time. At this time (and if the budget allows) creative revision to iron out any obvious flaws in the program
With a short form production, budget can be in the 100k* range. The thirty-minute infomercial can cost upwards of 250k*. The variance is based on any number of factors including:
The quality of the medium - for broadcast quality, your choices are varied. From 35mm film to HD, Betacam, DV
Talent - Are you going to seek an endorsement from a recognized personality? Will your production be union or non union.
Location - personally I think we should shoot everything in California
Animation, graphics, music.
*This is your production budget only and does not include purchase of airtime, versioning or fulfillment.
DRTV is trusted by retailers and consumers alike as an extremely effective means of selling your product. From beauty, to fitness, to financial services, DRTV can be used to inform and educate your target audience and create a strong source of sales revenue for the vendor.
About James McGee Productions
I have been writing, producing and directing video for twenty years and have done everything from motivational and informational programs to commercials. My corporate clients have included Bell Canada, Baxter Medical, Royal Bank, and TD Canada Trust.
For the past five years I have been plying my trade as a freelance writer/producer/director in the DR marketplace here in Toronto. From cellulite creams to health insurance, I have produced a wide variety of spots for both the American and Canadian market.
My clients have included:
Liberty Health, Emerson Direct, Smoke Away, Sprint, Reel Smart, and The Shopping Channel.
My specialty is production. This includes writing the creative, arranging for the crews - directing, and managing the post production process. I do everything that gets your spot to the point of broadcast. Depending on your needs I can coordinate the back end (i.e. fulfillment, call centre), or oversee projects as a consultant- lending my expertise to work with internal and external teams during all phases of the project.
My website - www.jamesmcgee.ca
If you need more info, I can be contacted here firstname.lastname@example.org