The Shifting Landscape of Direct Response Retail

Everyone who sells something knows it. Every large company is investing more money into it than any other marketing initiative. The statistics are staggering…Internet Video, the future of all sales. Some day, it might be holographic images transmitted directly to Google contact lenses or being beamed directly into the chip in your skull. But for now, web-product video is where everything is headed.

Right now, I am being approached by several large vendors who are constructing websites with a plethora of different items for sale. What is different about these online marketplaces? Every single product will have a hosted presentation video. Not just flash and glam yester-year tactics. Real, seasoned presenters with custom demonstrations and true salesmanship. It is why I’ve started the company I have. Hundreds of huge online retailers are quoted saying that conversion rates have risen as high as 400% on their sites after adding video. It is where everything is headed and the strategies of years gone by are quickly fading.

I have made my living in television retail for the past 15 years. I have been a part of some of the largest DRTV networks on Earth and this I know for certain, they all see the writing on the wall. These networks have huge campuses with thousands of employees and monstrous expenses. Heck, just the annual electric bill for one of their campuses is probably more than I’ll make in my lifetime! Here’s a stat to make your head spin: Facebook is now worth more than Toyota, Disney, AT&T, Coca-Cola or Bank of America. Think about the expenses of Disney. Now consider that you could run Facebook out of my garage.

DRTV networks know that the broadcast strategies that have served them so well for decades have few years left. Some say 10 years, some say less than 6. These networks are driving customers to their websites in droves. The entire landscape of shopping is shifting under them rapidly. They need to migrate their customers to the web and get them comfortable using it… and fast!

For the most part, this is easy. Most consumers are doing this of their own accord. But, there is the core DRTV shopping customer that has been the foundation of the industry and has spent decades relying on the daily broadcast for companionship. They have relationships with the hosts and guests. They feel a personal connection to their favorite shopping channel. Giving that up for web-based shopping is like swapping that morning coffee you’ve enjoyed for decades for decaf tea. It might be better in many ways, but it just doesn’t stir your emotions in the same way. Networks know that they must bring this person along and they are consistently trying ways to make it easy and preferable for them.

For the smaller online retailers who operate in the shadow of huge companies like Amazon, and Shopzilla, attention must be given to the quality of video being created. Gone are the years when an iPhone could compete. The bar is being set by the bigger brands and studies conclusively show that consumers are correlating the quality of a product with the quality of the video representing it. I have yet to see the fish-eyed, bumbling look of a mobile device compete with the polished cinematic quality of real video gear. In the latest edition of Electronic Retailer Magazine, Tim Hawthorn, the founder and CEO of one of the largest direct-response agencies in the US, wrote in reference to ads on Instagram: “…clients will be forced to rethink creative, ultimately high-quality content …. not that which is flashing and blinking.” Since my company is streamlined to provide great sales video with true salesmanship at a price that the smaller vendor can afford, I suspect having to limit my company’s expansion at some point to avoid being swallowed by it!

Everything in the direct response and TV/video sales industry is changing. The good news is that you too can have a shopping network! All you need is a website, some good SEO, a selection of products and a video for each. Giddy-up! You’re in business!


by Cory Bergeron

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