Make a successful statement with your next insert

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Every year marketers test new insert media; some find breakthrough success, while others have little or none. While there are many contributing factors to each test's outcome, the most critical lies in the crafting of the offer.

In a test environment, spend 90 percent or more of your time on offer development. Worry less, at this point, about skimming dollars off the cost per thousand or printing on glossy versus matte paper. Once you have a successful offer, you can spend more time enhancing the insert's overall performance.

So, what are the secrets to a successful offer? There aren't any, unfortunately. But you can definitely learn a lot by studying the practices of controls running in insert media today. One thing all successful statement insert media offers have in common capitalizing on the magic "credit-card-information-in-hand" moment.

A major advantage statement insert media has over other print mediums is that prospects have their credit card information, literally, in the palm of their hand. While the prospect's immediate focus is on paying bills, not shopping, statement inserts get attention. They ride along with very few other ads and don't have to compete with editorials or articles. We've found that successful offers follow the basic AIDA principle: get attention, build interest, create desire, and create firm call to action.

With that basic premise in mind, here are some ways successful marketers apply this principle to statement insert media.

Use the space for what counts

Don't skimp on your headline space. The tried and true direct marketing technique of using large benefit-oriented headlines never loses its effectiveness - especially in small-space media.

Always add the program's logo to your piece, if allowed. It is an implied endorsement that is very valuable in establishing trust with the prospect.

The price is right

Successful offers typically offer a premium. You want it to be low-cost, but make sure it has high perceived-value, too.

Price points of $19.95 or less are ideal and typically have the highest success rate. Two recent offers we found in American Express statements were for single products priced at $9.95 and $19.95. Play this low-commitment price point up heavily.

For higher-ticket offers, especially at $29.95, heavily promote easy, multiple payments. There are certainly very well-know exceptions, however price points above $99.95 are difficult to make work in this media.

Keep it simple

Successful offers are simple, straightforward and clear. To capitalize on the magic moment it is critical that your offer's benefit be immediately digested. This is not a good media for heavy sales explanations and multiple choices.

Avoid offering too many choices - stick to one premium. If offering a "buy-up," stick to just one price. The more you complicate the offer with choices, generally, the lower your response rate.

Put time on your side

Successful offers typically include a deadline for responding. A risky bet, for sure, if insertion delays arise. But we know many smart marketers who have figured out a way to make it work for them. Not using a deadline results in fewer orders.

Successful offers include a guarantee and make it clear that the current purchase decision is low-risk. Otherwise, the prospect may decide to think about it and then the magic moment fades.

Highlight your unique values

Continuity offers work very well in insert media but are tricky to promote without overselling and over explaining. Offer a premium or discount for sign-up to a temporary trial, make it low risk, and identify how the prospect can cancel - at anytime.

Many banks require lengthy disclaimers to protect them from dissatisfied customers. Soften the disclaimer by adding your own one-liner at the end reinforcing your services and integrity.

Offer what works for your product

Products that appeal to a broad audience work well in bank inserts. However we've seen many niche products work, too, such as coins and other collectibles.

Successful offers usually feature a special savings. The most successful offers make the savings exclusive to that particular insert program.

Everyone loves a bargain - even high-end customers. We spotted a recent bangtail offer for a Pierre Cardin gold and diamond watch reduced from $299.99 to only $69.99. Don't shy away from this key motivator.

As always: Test, test, test

Always test more than one offer in a new media channel, preferably as a true A/B split test. Try to get as many test cells to read as you can manage. You'd be surprised how very differently offers perform from each other - even if the product is identical. Don't walk away from insert media until you've tested multiple offers.

Create your offer keeping your brand image in mind, certainly. But do not let your branding create your offer. A true marriage between the two can exist - as long as you stick to your tried-and-true direct marketing techniques. n

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