Letter: Don't Give Up on Insert Media Day

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An open letter to the Insert Media Council, Op/Com Committee and all insert mailers, brokers, managers, program owners and related suppliers:


As you may be aware, a memo is being circulated by some members of the Insert Media Op/Com Council to the effect that Insert Media Day should not be continued, at least in its present format.


Besides being personally offended, I find the logic behind the position to be flawed.


Quoting Steve Jobs, chairman of Apple Computer, in The New York Times on Oct. 13, "Sometimes the first step is the hardest one, and we've just taken it."


While no one would compare insert media with video on iPods, Insert Media Day represents the starting point for an industry that has long lived in the background of multichannel media (as our newest nomenclature is called). When insert media was an "alternative," there were a number of us who felt that it was time to acknowledge the true nature of the medium but to do so in a positive way by having its own trade show day.


Insert Media Day was born in 2002 with a conference attended by dedicated practitioners and the then-president of the Direct Marketing Association. The promise was made that the DMA would support the undertaking and provide the structure for which they have expertise: namely, running a show, and they would also see that insert media became a part of the media in the DMA surveys and statistics. Those present at the meeting agreed to use all of their resources to bring in a crowd and to do so in Westchester County (NY). And so Insert Media Day was born, and it was a great success.


It was, as we all know, repeated in 2004 and again in 2005, but this time in New York City with the expectation that a larger crowd would appear with an emphasis on mailers. The lineup of speakers, their subjects, the exhibit hall and the variety of exhibitors pleased anyone who attended, I am sure. And they attended from all over the country. The preshow cocktail party was an overwhelming success with a very crowded room.


In my experience as a past board member of the Hudson Valley Direct Mail Club, the New York Direct Mail Club, member of the DMA, NEMOA and other organizations, there often is a drop of enthusiasm (and attendance) requiring fine-tuning after the initial burst of enthusiasm. List Day experienced a similar situation, as did the clubs mentioned above, and each remedied their issues and went on to greater achievements. Just try to get into a Hudson Valley meeting if you haven't made a reservation.


The Insert Media Council needs to focus on the positive attributes and the potential of continuing Insert Media Day. An analysis of attendees will show that there are still many companies not represented who, with some encouragement, will surely attend the next one. With some changes in the format, mailers will be encouraged to learn about the "below-the-radar" medium so successfully used by other mailers. Students and younger marketers should be provided with their own forums and special pricing to attend.


The DMA is just now starting their survey of insert media. Trade publications have all switched to providing sections and editorial copy on insert media. Mailers are increasing their commitment in insert media, and many need advice on how to get started, where to go, whom to use.


Many young and enthusiastic men and women are entering direct marketing positions including brokerage/management firms specializing in insert media. They represent our future and should be encouraged to be part of the planning process for the next Insert Media Day. The "old guard" deserves a rest; there is no doubt that everyone participating is overworked as these are after-hours jobs.


There is no doubt that for the time being Insert Media Day will be "vendor heavy," but skillful marketing will redress the balance. Mailers are staring at a postal increase in 2006, and "substitute" media, specifically insert media, will climb in their attention span, and education in the use of insert media will be needed. Forums such as Insert Media Day provide this education.


Let's back off the negatives and focus on the positives. As Steve Jobs said, "Sometimes the first step is the hardest one, and we've just taken it."


Leon Henry, CEO, Leon Henry Inc.,


leon@leonhenryinc.com


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