How to make a strong statement

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As seasonedĀ insert-media advertisers, we are frequently asked how to break into the most difficult of all insert categories - bank statements. Bank statement insert-media offers tremendous opportunity for growing your new customer base and sales.

With large-scale monthly circulation, an attentive audience with credit card information in hand and the implied endorsement of a trusted source, it can be a true breakthrough for your media plan. The drawback? With enhanced privacy legislation, heavy competition and ongoing bank mergers, it can be very difficult to break into successfully. Here are some tips for a successful start:

Use an established broker. Your offer, no matter how successful it may be in other media, must pass stringent branding guidelines that vary for every program. Banks are selective in the products they allow to ride in their envelopes.

A successful broker will have strong, solid relationships developed with the major banks and be able to use that relationship to endorse your product. Going it alone is a nearly impossible feat for new advertisers.

How do you find the right broker? Start out by contacting several at once. And interview each candidate for the following:

How many long-term statement insert advertisers do they represent? How many placements a year do they book? What services do they provide and at what rates? Some brokers provide everything from booking the space and creative execution to printing and delivering the product.

How many new-advertiser success stories can they provide based on your type of product? Some products are so suited for banks that any broker can grow circulation.

Closely related, do they represent any of your competitors? If so, steer clear. You need a broker going to bat for you alone. Take a cue from HGTV's Designer Challenge and recommend each develop a multiple-cell test plan identifying banks, offers and circulation.

Inform your broker about your product and service. By the time he or she approaches a bank, your broker should be an expert on your company. Expect your customer service values, hours of operation, fulfillment package, accounts-receivable practices and other marketing follow-up to be evaluated. A good broker can identify the needed changes.

Expect outstanding attention and service. They must share with you their past testing successes and failures and help guide you toward a well-planned and executed test. The broker represents your interests and the bank's. They must walk a fine line to ensure all needs are met. You are paying your broker to work on your behalf: Tell them what you need and hold them accountable. They will deliver.

Allow the broker to print and deliver your test inserts. Down the road you may find it more economical to handle this internally but paying a bit more for this service during your test will be well worth it. Bank print and delivery specifications can be incredibly exacting, and it is not unheard of for deliveries to be rejected outright for out-of-spec issues. Banks will still expect payment from you and not insert the pieces. Again, a broker can take care of this for you up front.

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