Insert Media Complements Any DM Mix

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Placing a pearl necklace around your neck when you are wearing pearl earrings enhances your ensemble, no doubt about that. Well, it's the same thing when adding insert media to your marketing mix.


Insert media complements any direct mail marketing mix, with unique benefits that include implied endorsement by the program owner, savings on postage and shipping costs and lower media costs than direct mail. Before you begin, there are a few things you should know when testing the insert media waters.


Define your target audience so you can identify programs that reach it. Insert programs are unique from lists in that they cannot offer the same kind of selectivity because of automated collation and insertion processes. Many programs do not offer regional selections. When you consider insert programs, you want to know that more than 50 percent of the audience you reach will be in your desired gender, age range, income range, unit of sale range, geography (if that's a factor for your offer) and interest.


Reserve space in your desired insert media programs at least three months ahead of time if possible. Unlike direct mail lists, insert media programs offer a limited number of slots and they do fill up. You want to reserve early so you can select from the months that offer the best seasonality for your offer. Inquire as to what other advertisers you will be inserting with, as you don't want a competitive offer to dampen your results, especially when testing a new program.


You also want to get familiar with the insert program owner to learn whether it is reputable. Ask the owner or manager whether the program consistently runs on time, how long it has existed, whether it reaches its customers who have made purchases, its prospects or a third-party-generated list.


Though insert programs offer savings on postage, you want to ensure your print costs and marketing efforts are well spent when you entrust your pieces to someone else's fulfillment house to be sent in the agreed-upon time frame and to whom you expect to receive them. Ask to see usage, including continuations, just as you would prior to renting a list. If reputable marketers are continuing, it is more likely to be a responsive, well-run program.


Insert programs have maximum size and weight requirements and sometimes minimum requirements. Before printing your pieces, know the specs for the programs you desire to use. As a rule, maximum size for package insert programs is 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 and 0.25 ounces, and statement programs are 3 1/2 x 7 and 0.15 ounces, though they vary from program to program.


Insert media comes in many formats, each with unique benefits. Know your options and choose the program that best suits your specific needs.


Package inserts. Pieces usually are collated into an envelope and shipped with purchased goods. Benefits include implied endorsement from the shipping company, assurance that the package will be opened and reaching a direct response buyer at the time of purchase.


Ride-alongs. Your offer rides along with correspondence from a company to its customers, such as a book club with a monthly offering bulletin, offering a strong implied endorsement to established customers of the shipping company and assurance that the package will be opened.


Blow-ins. Pieces are blown into a catalog or publication shipped to customers or prospects. Blow-ins usually offer large universes and a varied list of recipients with the company's rental of outside lists for prospecting efforts. These programs offer great volume discount pricing, making them one of the most cost-effective insert ad mediums.


Statement inserts. Inserts into statements are offered by companies including credit cards, utilities, cable companies, continuity clubs, magazines and newspapers. Many statement programs offer regional selectivity, even as specific as ZIP code level. Offers can be shipped with the initial billing statements and sometimes even with the renewal or subsequent collection efforts.


These envelopes usually get opened as they contain bills from companies that the consumers already do business with, and it is usually at a time the customers have their checkbook out and are ready to pay, making it easier to convert them for another sale of your product or service.


Credit card statement programs usually offer bangtails, which is an offer printed on the flap of the return envelope that the customer must physically rip off in order to send in payment, increasing the chance of your offer being noticed.


Inserts into credit card statements usually offer the added benefit of being able to charge the purchase of your product directly to the credit card and mail it back with their credit card payment, making the purchase extremely easy for consumers. This way, they don't need to write an additional check or mail their response in a separate envelope, increasing the opportunity for impulse purchases.


Co-op programs. Your offer is collated into an envelope and mailed to an audience of a predetermined demographic makeup, such as new movers, new moms or homeowners. The envelope contains offers appropriate for that demographic. Co-ops usually reach audiences that are difficult to reach otherwise through insert media as limited response programs are on the market reaching that audience, and the package usually is large. Some programs offer regional selectivity, which is essential for some mailers.


Some drawbacks to co-ops are that they usually are sent to a list selected by demographics, not response driven, and they include many inserts per program, so it's easy for an offer to get lost in the shuffle.


Card decks. These are similar to co-ops in that they are mailed in large volumes with many cards per deck. However, card decks often are sent to business professionals such as farmers, medical professionals or marketers, with very targeted offers. The cost of insertion often includes printing, which offers additional savings.


Insert marketing is a growing medium, not only in the increasing number of programs being offered in the past few years, but in the breadth and width of the audience. Traditionally, package insert programs reached females who bought low-ticket items. Today, programs reach affluent males and high-spending females as well as business professionals.


Additional categories of mailers are testing this medium as a valuable contribution to their marketing. While inserts once were known for offering low-ticket items such as personalized checks and address labels as well as promotional jewelry, beauty and apparel offers, marketers such as online services, top-of-the-line stereo systems, luxury cigars and star-quality cosmetics are among the top inserters today.


The list is growing to include nonprofit organizations, consumer packaged goods and catalog marketers.


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