RESEARCH, STATISTICS AND LIES

“There are three types of lies:
Lies, damned lies and statistics”
—Mark Twain

Numbers don’t lie.  Or do they?  In Direct Response Electronic Marketing, market research and its statistical data is without question a valuable tool for use in aiding the development of strategy. But the key word here is tool.  Research and statistics are not an end all, they are not an absolute upon which to base all decisions.  Rather, they are indicators, no more and no less then part of the means to the ends.  Making decisions based solely upon research data is a mistake.  All statistical data is subject to interpretation.

Who You Gonna Believe?

From 1976 to 1980 I had the pleasure of working in various capacities (Producer, Program Director, and General Manager) at a TV station in the Los Angeles market.  We were having difficulty increasing our advertising base because the ratings companies (A.C. Nielsen and Arbitron) did regular audience surveys and determined that we had less than a “one” rating share for our market.  Their reports showed us having a “0” rating.  This translated into “nobody is watching.” To debunk this study we ran a give-away contest, without promotion, that you only knew about if you were tuned in.  We received tens of thousands of entry cards during the short time span of the contest.  No one was watching yet thousands of people sent in their entry cards.  Go figure!

Run The Numbers

Fact, according to many surveys

            * You need a 5 to 1 cost to price ratio to be a success.

            * You need a 4 to 1 cost to price ratio to be a success.

Both statements are factual.  The cost to price ratio, like nearly every other dynamic in direct marketing, is not a fixed factor.  It varies from product to product and is dependent on numerous variables such as product offer, pricing of the product, consumer appeal, customer demand, media costs, competition and others.

            * The best time to run an infomercial is late night.

            * The best time to run an infomercial is early Saturday or Sunday morning.

Both statements are absolutely true. It depends entirely on the target audience most likely to be interested in the product be sold.  In some cases and for some products the best time to run the infomercial might be late weekends or Thursday through Saturday. 

Here’s some more interesting and conflicting data

            * Studies have determined that most people who buy from infomercials do so in the last fifteen minutes of the program.

            * Studies have shown that most people who buy from infomercials do so after the infomerical is over.

            * The average time viewers watch an infomercial is seven minutes

* The average time viewers watch an infomercial is eighteen minutes.

            * Celebrities are very important and the primary reason viewers tune into and purchase from infomercials.

            * Real life testimonials are the primary reason why viewers purchase from infomercials.

            * Viewers who buy from infomercials do so primarily because of perceived value, information and price. Celebrity endorsement and testimonials are of only secondary importance.

            * Most people who watch infomercials watch no more than one day per week.

            * More than fifty percent of people who watch infomercials watch as many as six days per week.

            * Most infomercial viewers and buyers have a college degree or some college education

            * Most infomercial viewers and buyers only finished high school and work in the clerical or the trades industries.

            * For every one product sold on television you will sell 5 more at retail

            * For every one product sold on television you will sell 10 more at retail.

All of the above statements can be factual. The statistics reported come from various sources for very different products. Again, the natural tendency to leap to statistical conclusions can sometimes be dangerous.

There is no question that DRTV statistical data is very valuable. Past product performances, viewer trends, audience demographics and size are all important factors to be considered as you develop your product and your marketing plans.  In fact, used correctly, research and data are often a vitally important element for financing and capital fund raising. 

Every direct marketing campaign results in the development of a significant store house of statistical information.  That information is really accurate only for that particular product in that specific market. For example, if you look at the general average or typical buyer from DRTV, you would not expect the average age of the buyer to be over 60 years old. Yet, that is exactly what we found to be true for Therapy Plus, the Pain Reliever. It is important to keep in mind that each research study will be influenced by specific conditions that may or may not be applicable to your product or your marketing plans.

The most valuable research for your planning needs to be as closely related to your product or service as possible.  Look for information on how other similar products or services have performed in an Infomercial.  This information might be very relevant to your product or service, but be aware that it might not.

Direct Response Electronic Marketing is a dynamic process.  It is always changing and you must be prepared to change with it.  In the world of Direct Response advertising you are always testing, always revising.  Use research and statistics to help you in this process of planning, designing and revising.  But don’t look to the numbers for some magic answers or short cuts to success. You can’t build a successful infomercial or business playing the “calculator game”.  It’s important to study and search for relevant statistics, but be mindful that over-reliance on statistics alone should be avoided 100% of the time.  That’s a statistic you can rely on!

“Call Now 1-800 -  How to Profit from Direct Response Television Advertising”  Copyright 2006  Rodney H. Buchser

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