Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Squeezing Blood from the DR Turnip!

Well, hello there!
I haven't been blogging since 11/10 because I became a farmer - a direct response farmer to be exact. Due to a terrible 2010 in our "1-800" industry (for those who dare admit it) I had to start tilling the land and learning how to make new crops grow so I could look forward to a bountiful harvest in 2011. The turnip threatened to go dry for many of my clients in the B to C world. What I am talking about is the economy, consumer reaction to the economy, highs and lows in sales that threaten companies, diluted audience numbers, higher costs of goods, etc. All these things made the DR business hard to harvest. So, like many of my DR counterparts I had to acquire new "seeds", plant new ideas, and tend to a different type of garden. Didn't we all?

Here are a few things that I've been trying in the last few months to reinvigorate marketing campaigns.

1. Offers $$ - To charge more or less for your product in hard economic times?
When fewer people are calling in they are actually buying more - so CHARGE MORE. This seemed like the opposite thing to do but it proved very successful for many of my clients. We discovered that people who "call-in" will spend money. During this recession folks are looking for deals and discounts but they are still looking to buy hope and happiness. Who can put a price on these two things? We tried raising per bottle prices $5; we tried increasing the product cost and giving away free shipping; we also decreased payment plans, trial offers, and single unit orders. This all translated into more dollars spent during the ad campaign.

2. Testimonials - Stop being afraid of using testimonials to sell your product!
Due to many FTC and FDA laws over the past few years many marketers have be come wary about using testimonials in their ads. Learn how to leverage your testimonials legally and pack your creative full of them. People want to see/feel the product in action. Again, people are looking for hope and happiness and credible testimonials can provide this. We spent a lot of time generating testimonials for our clients by calling their customers and asking for testimonials; asking for testimonial commentary in our ad creatives, and setting up easy ways for people to provide their comments (SKYPE, Facebook, Twitter, Phone Surveys). Many of my clients saw a 20% lift in response just by adding in 4 new testimonials into old creative!

3. Revamp your website - are you converting 22% or better on your website?
22% or better should be the minimum you expect from your website if you are running a marketing campaign. Have you updated your website to include all the new social media outlets? Have you updated your website to reflect any PR? Have you updated your website so it can compete with your competition's website? Is your pricing offer on the right page? All of these things lead to this 22% or better standard.

4. Re-Focus Your USP - solve 1-2 problems with your product to a niche audience!
Go against traditional methods that say "cast the widest net" and simplify your product's unique selling propositions. Does your product appeal to any one group of people more than others? Can it help with one problem more than others? Don't be afraid to change the problem your product is solving into a smaller sub group. Test different ad types to see if the refined messaging rings truer (spot radio, print, long form radio, TV, online). We took many of our client's core product benefits and narrowed the focus and actually increased response by 15%. The moral of the story is that niche markets spend the same or more than "widest net" markets.

At Synergixx we brought many of the services our clients needed the most in-house in order to save them money, such as:

web development and strategic planning
radio production and editing - terrestrial and online
product sourcing and manufacturing
graphic design and print production

By changing our product offerings we were able to provide streamlined costs to our clients with strict management to keep campaigns running and profitable.

Call me to discuss how your campaign can benefit from these new farming practices!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Perhaps it is fitting that on voting day I announce a very important appointment at Synergixx.  Today we inagurated Synergixx's new President.  I am proud and excited to have, Scott Swanson, one of the most outstanding members of our industry and my long term friend, accept this position.  Effective today he is the new President for our growing company.  Below is the press release we have sent out!


November 2, 2010

Scott Swanson, President
Synergixx LLC
Synergixx LLC introduces Scott Swanson as President of Synergixx

Sewell, NJ – Synergixx LLC, a leading company that provides high quality, results-orientated campaign development and sales driven inbound telemarketing to the direct response industry has announced the promotion of Scott Swanson as President of Synergixx.

Charlie Fusco, CEO of Synergixx, said about the promotion, “Synergixx is going through an expansion phase both in its campaign development and in-house sales center and we feel Scott’s operational background will help direct and implement this growth. Scott has the experience, knowledge and the ability to take Synergixx into new areas of business while maintaining our company’s ‘clients’ satisfaction’ emphasis. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to take on this very important challenge.”
As President, Scott’s primary focus is to strategically maximize Synergixx’s revenue while enhancing customer experience.
You can reach Mr. Swanson at or at 800-951-9032.

Congratulations Scott!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Insider Radio Tip!

If you haven't been combining radio and web marketing NOW IS THE TIME!

Check this out!

The percentage of U.S. adults that have visited a radio station’s website in the past month rose to 17.7% in 2010, up from 12.8% in 2006, according to the Media Audit. The study of 80 markets also finds that nearly three-quarters of radio website visitors are considered heavy or moderate listeners, listening to radio for almost three hours per day on average.

The findings demonstrate the sales value of station website advertising when bundled with on-air audiences. According to the study, 88% of monthly radio website visitors have made one or more e-commerce purchases in the past year, compared to 63.1% of heavy radio listeners. What’s more, 36.7% of radio website visitors make twelve or more online purchases in a typical year — 61% higher than heavy radio listeners. “Advertisers looking to bolster awareness, online transactions and website traffic could do well by combining radio spots with radio website ads, rather than advertising on radio alone,” the study concludes.

The adult alternative format indexes the highest among monthly station website visitors – 33.8% of adult alternative listeners have visited a radio station website in the past month, followed by alternative (31.6%), sports, (29.4%), news/talk (27.1%), rock (26.9%), public radio (25.8%), hot AC (25.8%), classic rock (25.7%), contemporary Christian (25%) and dance CHR (24.4%).

Ask me how to make Web-Radio work for you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where Did All My TV Calls Go? (and where has Charlie been?)

Hello again!  I've been gone a while because the direct response industry has been one wild ride this year and every spare moment has been dedicated to helping my clients maximize sales dollars.  My job is certainly not done yet - this year promises to hold more ups and downs!  But for this moment let's talk TV...

The last two weeks in TV land (last week especially) have delivered SOFT, SOFT results for TV infomercials.  October, affectionately known as Red October, historically delivers up and down results. This year my industry counterparts agree that results are about 20% lower than even past Octobers.  People are not calling as much and those who are calling are not as easy to sell.  We can blame the TV infomercial ads, media rates, politcal races, the "recession" and several other contributing factors except that blame doesn't add to our ROI.

The real focus needs to be on how to ride out SOFT results without leaving money on the table.  Here are a few tips/tricks that may help your campaign get out of the "red zone" and into the "green zone".

1. Creative - change it up!  Slight tweaks in your CTA and product offer can help drive in the extra calls you need to weather lower response times.  There are ways to test tweaked creative without adding to your production and dubbing costs too much.  Similarly, make sure you choose the right media to test your tweaks.  TWEAKS: try FREE SHIPPING, an EXTRA BONUS GIFT, HARD offer to SOFT OFFER, BOGO, add in your 800# more frequently.  Or be daring and cut your half hour show down to 3 or 5 minutes and expose your core message to a new audience with a better CPM!

2. PUMP Your Agents Up - your profit model may not support higher sales commissions to sales agents long term, however, they could keep your continuity pipeline filled short term.  A call center SPIFF per order goes a long way to self-motivate agents to go that extra mile.  A well thought out SPIFF can temporarily boost close rates 3%-5%.  Work with your sales manager to develop a SPIFF program that works to fill in the CPC, CPO, or ROI deficits you're experiencing.  A poorly executed SPIFF can actually work against you so plan it well.

3.  Same Day Recovery - if you're using a Live Agent center check into their ability to do Recovery Calls in real time.  If they can dedicate the agents to this program quickly draft a Recovery Script.  They should target customers within an hour of their initial inquiry.  The script should have two parts:  a new attempt to close the initial sale and a drop down option that makes the decision to purchase easier for the customer (ex. pay plans, trial offer, reduced order size, sample sizes).  Adding an effective Same Day Recovery program to you inbound center can add another 5%-12% to your daily orders.

4. 24-Hour Outbound Calls - if you are not set-up with an outbound center that can call your customers back within 24 hours - you need to be.  Sales are made on inpulse.  Time kills desire.  Your outbound phone script can imitate your Sales Recovery script.  Make sure the customer list that is passed to the outbound center is scrubbed for Same Day Recovery connects.  Again, expect to capture another 2-3% in orders from a well run outbound campaign.  If you think you do not have enough daily leads to support an outbound campaign - think again.  There are centers that specialize in limited-lead base campaigns.

5. Micromanage Your Web Hits - you should be converting between 10%-22% on your average website driven by TV traffic (even more on some offers).   The easiest way to maximize sales on your website is to make email capture your first priority to allow for remarketing.  Check the legal regulations on email remarketing.  But aside from email captures there are several "technical" tricks your web specialist can add to your page that keep your customers engaged initially and even afer they leave your page.

Bottomline, don't leave money on the table no matter what time of year!

Cheers for now... let's talk soon!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Do You Socialize?

I recently came across this article on "10 Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips".

Check it out!  This article breaks down how to get started using social marketing methods to drive your business.  Good stuff!

However, it does not really cover two important points about social marketing.  In order to get the results you desire when "socializing" you have to master technique and have tenacity.  Here are two points I would ad to the great information in the article above.

1. Accountability!  How do you decide if the time put in equals revenue recieved back?  To determine if you are increasing your business, client base, or revenue stream you will need to track and chart your social makreting efforts just like you would a TV, Print or Radio campaign.  Come up with a number that represents how much you have invested in the social marketing campaign (hourly rate, % of a salaried employees time, cash outlay to hire a pro).  Then come up with a charting mechanism to log followers, comments, downloads, views, or even better phone calls from your social marketing efforts.  Track the activity that is generated from your tweets, posts, blogs and be sure to set a time for a review of the data.  You should anticipate about 30% of a full work week to be spent driving a social media campaign.  You should allow for 3-6 weeks before deciding how the campaign works for your business.  A big mistake many make is to judge their social media results too quickly.  The trap is thinking the internet is instant - remember that the internet is driven by people.  By tracking the response to your efforts you will be able to determine your Revenue Over Ivestment (ROI) and understand what drives your customer base better.

2. Content!  You must be able to generate creative, compelling and constant content to be successful.   Social media is about engaging the virtual audience and this requires material that is worth their virtual time.  Are you engaging through text, images, videos, interactive games, blogging, discussion boards, contests, ect?  Are you posting material that is both entertaining but effective at linking to your key messaging?  Are you able to seed the virtual world with enough content that it spreads virally and quickly?  In order to manage a social media campaign as a meaningful way to drive more cutomers to your business you must have a very creative person/s that can spend a large part of their time "socializing"

Read the article.  Consider these two points.  Then do something social... follow this blog, make a friend on Facebook, log in to your LinkedIn account, or watch and comment on a video on YouTube.  If you want social marketing to work for you then you have to work to be social.

Let's chat again soon somewhere in Cyberspace...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Reality Revolution!

Thanks to one of my producers for stumbling across this article on reality shows and passing it along!

The Reality Revolution
It's a quick read and filled with thought-provoking ideas.

I generally mock 90% of the reality shows and actually have called them a "fad".  Yet, I must admit that their popularity (and influence) cannot be denied.  It feels like a new reality show is popping up everyday.  My big take-away... viewers are desperate for seemingly 'authentic' content.  Gone are the days of laugh tracks and formula-based sitcoms and soaps.  Just as Facebook, Twitter and other social sites have revolutionized our world by providing unlimited, customized and 'authentic' content at the click of a button, reality shows are doing the same.  We have an evolving appetite for 'authentic' entertainment and while some might argue reality shows to be the "cheap all-you can eat buffet meal" - America is gobbling it up.

SIDE NOTE: 'Authentic' - I feel needs to be in constant quotes because I wonder if it really exists anymore.  

Keep a close eye on how reality shows evolve over the next 8 months because they will have a great impact on how we market to consumers and maintain healthy brands in a culture that seems less and less loyal to any brand.

Currently, I'm working on a reality show,  I'm creating the content and the machine.  Will it be the groundbreaking show that I envision?  I hope and then again... most shows can be fixed with big hair, tanned abs and a little yelling so we can always make it work, right?

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 3, 2010

5 Things I Found Interesting In Our Changing Advertising World!

Thoughts I had on things I read...

THING #1: JellyBelly Jelly Beans (one of my favorites) have joined the anti-aging revolution!  In 2008, Superfruits were identified as one of the Top 10 Global Consumer Trends, according to DataMonitor.  Beverage companies, cereal manufacturers and most certainly supplement manufactuers have driven this trend successfully - and now so have Jelly Beans!  Now you can get the "power of antioxidants" in a jelly bean with 100% natural flavors like Acai, Blueberry, and Pomegranate.  While I don't really believe these tatsy treats will help with my anti-aging crusade I'm definitely looking forward to sampling!  And why not - if I have to eat sugar why not let it be "healthy for me"?  The point is that we cannot ignore consumer trends EVEN if they come and go because just like FAD DIETS there is a large segment of your consumer group that responds to trends feverishly.  What other trends were started in 2008 that could help you boost sales in 2010:
  • Go Green! - how can your campaign or product save the planet?
  • Go Social! - how have you incorporated Twitter, Facebook and other social media into your marketing?
  • Go Mobile! - how can text messaging and Apps increase your customer loyalty?
  • Online Video! - have you made your product or service accessible online in :60 video clips to drive sales?
  • Sell  Services! - have you tried turning your product into a service rather than a widget?
I can help you strategize new ways to revitalize your product if you are willing to try something different next quarter.

THING# 2: Chocolate is always in style!  According to Nielsen, dietetic chocolate sold in 2009 showed a 3.6% increase with a $172 milion in sales.  What does this say to us marketers?  Embrace niche marketing!  As DR marketers we are taught to cast the widest net possible.  However, the increase in dietetic chocolate shows that people who are restricted tend to respond more intensely.   If you've been selling a product or service that addresses the masses try testing a niche campaign where you solve a specific problem.  My favorite niche markets right now include: bladder control, Mom nutrition, discounted shopping opportunities, hunting, and religious products and services.  My insider information says these are catagories to watch this year!  How can you customize your product or service to increase sales in new areas?  Let's brainstorm together!

THING #3:  People need to laugh.  Laughter is the best medicine.  In difficult economic times people will more easily release their hold on spending dollars if they are entertained.  This has been proven through the wildfire spread of certain online videos.  The more entertaining a video, the faster it spreads  across the internet reaching consumers that would otherwise never be exposed to your product or service.  Perhaps it is the lower production costs required on the internet that makes some marketers bold enough to enagage in customized online video campaigns when they will not spend money testing humorous concepts on traditional radio and TV campaigns.  Look at campaigns like for an example of a comedy driven DRTV campaign that really drives response. Can you "make fun of" your product or service without damaging the brand.  Check out www.iclicknation/2008/11/rules-for-spoofing/ for rules for making a Spoof video of your own.  The other trick is finding terrestrial advertsing methods that allow you to test new concepts under the radar.  By way of example check out as a place to buy online ads - the longer they read the more chance they'll click!

THING #4: Life Coaches... does everyone have one but me? When I first went to this site I was amazed as it really never occured to me that people would pay to have someone else tell them what to do with their life.  I became curious about the Life Coach industry after discovering that 4 of my friends had become Life Coaches themselves and are actually making some decent money at it.  Upon further investigation I predict this newest phenomenon to be the next big product marketing roller coaster since the Self Help Book revolution started.  Mark my words:  Life Coaches are the in-thing and have the potential to be as highly profitable as any multi-level marketing company ever was!

THING #5: Consumers want their 15-minutes of Snookie-Fame.  For those of you following the Jersey Show Reality Show you will automatically understand the Snookie reference.  And for those who have never seen it (like me) you must know about this woman who is all over the news and in magazines.  She is proof that consumers are craving new and authentic content.  The amount of product placements that have surfaced around this fast-tracked reality star show marketers that consumers are willing to accept a new kind of celebrity endorsement.  This is great news for marketers!  Consumers are being groomed to believe they have what it takes to be a 15-minute celebrity and they crave it.  YouTube contests, Facebook contests, testimonial collections, and sampling events can all be used to provide consmers an opportunity for their own 15-minutes of Snookie-Fame. Use this to your advantage!  Look to guerilla marketing and a clever promotion to help you accumulate priceless footage of your product being used 'reality show style' and build a stable of believable testimonials too!  Make sure you take advantage of radio and TV stations as they are dying for great content and can help you in many ways.

More to come...