BTB Insert Media Is the Latest Focus

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From time to time, various areas of insert media garner particular attention. We have seen this with statements, then specifically utility statements, also catalog blow-in programs, just to name a few. Most recently, business-to-business inserts and insert programs have become a hot topic.

Insert media has been important in the growth of many direct marketing companies. The medium was used extensively for decades by businesses marketing to consumers. Though there have been businesses that marketed directly to other businesses, most used telemarketing or direct mail/catalogs for prospecting and sales.

The playing field has changed. BTB marketers now take advantage of the economical mass distribution available through insert media, both in selling their products/services and generating revenue through allowing third-party inserts in their outgoing packages.

Though interest is growing in this segment of insert media, many marketers have noted the need for more BTB insert programs and more BTB mailers using insert media. With this in mind, we researched three data card companies to determine how many BTB programs exist in the market. These companies are SRDS, NextMark and Marketing Information Systems.

It may surprise you that there are 352 insert media programs considered BTB. As with consumer programs, media range from card decks and packages to statements and polybags and run in basically the same hierarchy with one interesting difference. Card decks are the largest vehicle type in BTB, whereas they have a much smaller distribution segment on the consumer side.

Though the in-dustry has found typical card decks a challenge for the consumer market, the business community responds well to this medium and is more likely to sift through the cards for ideas for their business. It is assumed that the busy consumer may lack the time to devote or may need to be courted by more style, color and excitement.

As you review the charts, it must be noted that the results are based on the program title chosen by the manager or owner. In this niche of direct marketing, program titles play a major role in deciding whether to consider a program further.

The past two decades have seen a change in business environments and the lifestyles of the work force within them. The business community understands that it needs to work with other businesses for a common benefit, and understands that the relationship with their customer needs to have a wide base. A growing number of BTB clients have begun to focus on the potential alliances, partnerships and exchanges the medium can bring.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the nation has 23 million small businesses. They employ half of the country's private work force and represent more than 99 percent of all employers.

As evidenced by the mass advertising by office-products retailers and other business-related companies, the business offers influence consumers' personal buying habits. Products such as fax machines, PDAs and organizational supplies have as much use in people's personal lives as they do in their professional lives. By the same token, the customer is served also by providing offers that might be considered strictly consumer: checks, labels, books, etc. There is a need for both.

As the future of BTB-related programs intensifies, so will the integration of business and consumer offers. Because of these blurring lines, the two have a closer relationship than ever. n


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