September 15, 2017 9:30 am

If you have ever watched the Home Shopping Network or have seen a commercial for an As Seen on TV product, you’re familiar with direct response marketing and advertising, even if you don’t know the term. Direct response marketing is designed to bring about an immediate response and compel the viewer to take a specific action, such as buying a product.

In the rare event your invention is licensed by a company, direct response marketing is a common way for it to be sold. This includes “infomercials,” which are also called direct response television, DRTV. It also may include radio and internet ads. So, what’s the difference between direct response marketing and other types of marketing?

There are two major types of marketing strategies – direct response and branding. The purpose of branding is to remind customers and prospects about a brand and the product and services it offers. The main idea behind branding is that the more times you run compelling ads, the more likely people are to think of your brand, research it, consider it, and eventually make a purchase. The majority of ads you see on TV are brand ads. They frequently tell a story or go for a “soft sell” – telling the audience about a product or service and informing them of the features and benefits, but without providing them with a way to take action at that exact moment.

This is where direct response marketing differs. Direct response is actionable and trackable and more of a “hard sell.” Here’s what you need to know about DRTV:

It’s trackable. Because of web and phone number tracking, when someone makes a purchase, a company knows which ad caused them to buy. Compare this to brand marketing; no one will ever know which of hundreds of McDonalds ads compelled a customer to buy a McDouble.

It’s measurable. Since a company knows which ads are being responded to and how many sales have been received from each one, they can measure the effectiveness of each ad. Then, they can change, drop, or create new ads to reflect this and garner more sales.

It offers a problem and a solution. Rather than just stating the features and benefits of a product, a direct response ad provides a situation in which the product would be useful. Often, a problem is presented and the ad shows a solution where the product is utilized.

Wording is important. Direct response marketing uses compelling messaging; the words that the advertisement uses are incredibly important. It uses attention grabbing headlines that speak towards the intended audience.

It targets a specific audience. Specific types of people can be targeted through geographic audiences, likes and dislikes, and buying patterns. Direct response advertising aims to appeal to a narrow and specific target market.

It offers value. Typically, a direct response ad makes a value packed offer, such as offering a product at a discount for a limit time or offering a higher quantity for the same price.

It demands a response. Direct response ads use a “call to action” which is a statement that tells the audience what to do next. It directs them to call a number or visit a web address to take the next step. Because the audience is being guided along a specific path, it’s a very enticing offer.

Direct response television works for new products because it allows companies to test what products sell well. They have an easy way to track which products are performing well and the hard numbers to prove it. For this reason, many new products will be included in DRTV segments, whether in a standalone infomercial or included with other products on a television shopping network.

If your invention were to be licensed by a company and chosen for a direct response advertisement, you would have little to no say over the advertisement that the company would create. However, it is important for inventors to become educated in these matters. We encourage you to learn about many different aspects of the invention industry, such as DRTV, so that in a situation where you are networking with potential licensors or other important business people, you can sound educated, informed, and ready to get the ball rolling.

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