By Rebecca Barr, Executive Vice President, and Anna Fowles, Executive Vice President

Few DRTV successes are born overnight. Most build a successful model by testing, then expanding out from there. So what’s the rule to live by? Well, there is no hard and fast rule. What’s most important is acknowledging that there is almost always room for improvement.

Are you looking to push the envelope? The following strategies will help lead you to success by establishing benchmarks by which future DRTV media buying decisions can be made.

Learn how to mitigate risk

Testing involves risk, plain and simple. When it comes to mitigating risk, there are two core recommendations. First, always test campaigns with a lower media spend before blowing an entire budget. Any new campaign should always have a test budget, followed by a roll-out. Otherwise, you are just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. Second, don’t forget to test the inexpensive media in addition to your core, demo-targeted station mix. This allows you to expand your reach by maximizing frequency on a limited spend, and make the most of your test budget.

Widen the playing field

This is particularly relevant for a new product or service launch. Hitting the ground running with a broad media schedule allows you to figure out which markets, demographics and stations are delivering the best response, so you can optimize accordingly. You can then narrow down the list to the most responsive and determine an adequate media spend for roll-out.

Frequency: how much is too much?

Most DR advertisers rely on frequency to drive sales, and one of the single largest improvements you can make to your bottom line is to test the impact of increased frequency on your core performers. This is DR 101. How much is too much? You never know until you test. Begin by testing and measuring the impact of an additional 5-10 spots per week. Make sure you closely monitor performance for signs of declining efficiencies, at which point you may reach your cap and it could be time to scale back accordingly.

Offers and pricing: where is your most profitable line?

Offers and pricing are a natural fit for media testing as response is easily measured. Lowering or sometimes raising the price point by a small amount (or even a few decimal points!) has the potential to deliver stronger results. If you can’t play with the disclosed price, a soft offer can also be a valuable test if you have the right call center support behind it to close the loop. Very few campaigns go directly from testing to roll-out without some, if not many, creative changes and experimenting with different versions. If you need to move the needle, this may be your key to success.

Geography: go national, if possible!

While some product categories tend to perform better only in certain geographic regions, others have national appeal. Products that have both national appeal and national distribution should be tested nationally. National media is a cost-effective way to reach your audience; cost per thousand (CPM) rates are much lower than are available for local or regional buys. Another advantage of national media is that many of the opportunities are narrow-interest programming (HGTV for gardening/home improvement, Animal Planet for animal interests, ESPN for sports, etc.), which delivers large and very targeted audiences.

Length: would doubling the length double my response?

Longer inventory is typically double the cost, but does it bring in double the response? It most likely will, but these are some insights you can glean from testing. There is no disputing the fact that longer spot formats allow you more time to tell a story and make an emotional connection. Plus, the higher the price tag, the more time you typically need to sell it. On the flip side, however, inventory is often limited, particularly outside of Q1. This does not mean there is no :120 availability during other times of the year; it just means you should have a :60 available to keep the sales moving if :120 inventory dries up.

Remember, numbers don’t lie

When it comes to media buying, numbers are everything. Yes, results can always be improved, but typically not enough to bring life to a buy that has not demonstrated any signs of potential. A dog is rarely anything more than a dog, no matter what spend or frequency you put behind it. Run hard with the winners and be ruthless with the losers – this is key to maximizing DRTV media success.

Push the limit

When it comes to DRTV media, there is always room for improvement. But to find the winners you have to get in the game, and that requires expertise and a willingness to push the limit. Part of that process is finding the right agency partner who understands the importance of relationships – one that’s invested in your long-term success and can help you take your business to the next level. Do you have what it takes to push the limit?

We can help optimize your media.