"The mushy middle," that's what Tom Cunniff calls the convergence of TV and Web.
As VP Director of Interactive Communications for CPG firm Combe Inc, he manages both interactive and TV efforts for brands such as Just for Men haircolor, Aqua-Velva and Cepacol. We asked him for an insider's view of TV/Web convergence.Top three TV vs. Web myths busted
TV costs more and delivers less every day, Cunniff says, while the Internet costs less and delivers more. Still, a couple of myths being tossed about aren't true.
--Myth #1. TV is dead "TV has weakened a lot, but even in its weakened state it's still way more powerful at driving awareness," says Cunniff. "The Internet has not gotten to the point where it can take over that role easily."
--Myth #2. The Web is the new TV "The Web is the best info-spreading, direct-marketing, relationship-building medium ever," Cunniff says. But it won't take over TV's role.
-- Myth #3. All CPGs are moving budget from TV to Web. "As a marketer, the verities about where you should put your money shift constantly," Cunniff says. While it's oft-reported that most CPGs are pulling money out of TV and spending it online, that's not precisely what his research found.
"In actual fact, you're seeing it in categories with defined sales cycles like automobile and financial. But with CPGs, it's happening only a little," he says. "At the end of the year, when you need to make your numbers and you need a lift, you're going to place the money where you know, and that's TV.”
What works? True convergence involves assigning each medium its proper role: TV is (mainly) about awareness; the Internet is (mainly) about action and increasing loyalty.How to use TV to drive to the Web
With Just for Men haircolor, Cunniff likes to use TV commercials to increase awareness and drive consumers online to take action.
The job of the commercials is to tell men who are just beginning to go gray that great haircolor can be part of their lives. The commercials "put guys up on the fence. They're fence-sitters, asking, 'Do I [dye my hair] or not?'"
The Web address is superimposed on the screen. As many as 100 times more visitors come to the site in the hour after the commercial than the hour before. "Then it trails off to normal," Cunniff says.Converting TV-drive traffic effectively
The Web's job is to push those fence-sitters to the green pastures on the other side. It's less about the brand message and more about information to help in decision-making.
To do that, Cunniff's team created tools.
--How-to slide show that shows men how to use the product.
--Functionality that allows men to print out a PDF of the exact shade they want to buy so they can bring it to retail locations. "If you've printed the shade, hopefully you're one step closer to the cashier," Cunniff says.
The free trial is an eight-dollar coupon allowing a visitor to buy a box of haircolor at retail. The coupon is scanned at point-of-sale, and can only be printed from the same computer once.
People who print coupons are segmented into three buckets (based on how often they redeem them). Cunniff can ratchet down the value of the coupons to people who use them all the time and ratchet up the value of the coupons to people who don't often redeem them to try to convince them to buy more often.
The Web is also used to generate loyalty: an unobtrusive box on the lower left corner of the home page invites visitors to "Join our mailing list," and another asks, "Already use Just for Men? Click here for exclusives, special offers and more!"
"We don't bother you about joining the loyalty program," says Cunniff. "You can get there if you want, but our goal is to help them make the decision to color their hair."
Unlike other consumable package goods, haircoloring has a cycle. "If you were a guy who bought a box of haircolor six weeks ago it's time to color again," says Cunniff. Emails follow that cycle, nudging users toward another purchase and offering incentives. "What we've learned in research is, guys are not interested in being romanced. They said, 'Give me something practical.'"
Cunniff says the emails always have value. "And I don't mean valuable content, I mean dollars and cents value."Top 3 mistakes Cunniff commonly sees CPGs making online
--Mistake #1. Forgetting where the customer is in the sales cycle
Generally, a successful website won't be all things to all people. With Just for Men, Cunniff knows he's marketing to an audience that really wants to buy -- they just need a little push.
Ad people, particularly at agencies, tend to think of Internet advertising as the same thing as TV. "There are a lot of websites that use the Web as bad TV, with long elaborate flash intros," Cunniff says. That's not what visitors are generally there for. "[Those advertisers] haven't thought through the sales process. Ask yourself, are [visitors] at awareness? At consideration? At trial?"
--Mistake #2. Getting in the way of the cash register
Fence-sitters want to buy, yet Cunniff sees many sites getting in the way of people making the purchase. In fact, until recently the Just for Men site contained "nauseating detail on the subject," he says, with a massive 120 pages. Cunniff recently helped the Combe team trim the site to its current count of about 10.
--Mistake #3. Being the same every time
While the Web is a fabulous channel for giving information and driving consumers through to the sale, it doesn't work every time, for every product. "Be consistent, but don't be exactly the same," Cunniff says. Sometimes the Web is great for awareness (a McDonald's new sandwich at lunchtime), direct marketing (think Amazon or ING) or product sampling.
Sometimes, it can take a long time to discover the right use of the Web. "We have yet to crack how to use the Internet to sell over-the-counter products like Cepacol," says Cunniff. "We can't get you to purchase Cepacol *before* you have a sore throat, so we're still working on figuring that out. Maybe we can learn that it's crummy weather in your neighborhood, and if the weather is bad you soon *will* have a sore throat…," he muses.Useful links related to this article
Just for Men http://justformen.com/
Combe Incorporated http://combe.com/