As we celebrate 30 years of success in direct response, we sat down with one of our oldest clients and closest friends, Rick Kelly, VP at National Express, Inc., to discuss his experience in the industry and his relationship with Diray over the past three decades.
DM: Tell us a bit about National Express and your relationship with Diray over the past 30 years.
RK: National Express, Inc. is an independently owned direct response company focusing on bringing products directly to consumers via television, internet, print, mail order and retail. Founded in 1981, we are one of the oldest and most respected companies in the industry. We have a long history of working closely with numerous inventors, suppliers and corporations.
I joined National Express right around the time Diray was founded in 1987. Together, we have led many successful direct response campaigns including top-selling products like XHose, Vidalia Chop Wizard, Tripledge Wipers, Weed Terminator and Singer Handy Stitch, among many, many others. We’ve also become close friends along the way.
DM: What changes have you seen in the direct response industry over the past 30 years? How has Diray helped you navigate these changes?
RK: When I first started out, direct response was much different. Essentially, cable TV didn’t exist, so we negotiated directly with broadcasters using per-inquiry advertising (PI), which is when the advertiser receives free ad time and space while paying only for results.
All that changed when cable TV was introduced, and infomercials began to take hold. At that time, mail order accounted for 60%-70% of business. Then, in the early ‘90s, retail came into play and the relationship between TV and retail became a huge area of focus for direct response.
The biggest change over the past 30 years, however, was the dawn of the internet. It’s shifted the landscape of media buying and direct response marketing, bringing with it many challenges and opportunities for our clients and the industry.
One example is the way Amazon has impacted direct response. Many consumers go right to Amazon to search for a product, and if it’s not there, the impulse is gone. Over time, we’ve learned that DRTV campaigns can have a direct and significant impact on Amazon sales when they work together as part of a holistic direct response campaign.
Throughout the years, Diray has been a trusted partner in navigating change and helping us incorporate new media strategies that drive significant ROI.
DM: What do you think separates Diray from the competition?
RK: Over the years, the team at Diray has become more than just business partners. They’ve become our close friends. The Diray team is extremely professional, yet down-to-earth, so they relate well to entrepreneurs. Diray is devoted to their clients, peers and the community. We look forward to many more years of working together.
During our 30th anniversary year, Diray will feature blogs that look at where we have been, where we are, and where we think the industry is going.