Give Package Inserts Their Proper Respect

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Alternative print media brokers and managers have a real problem. No, it's not the Internet and the distraction of the Web, e-commerce and related activities.

It is the mishandling of the insert program titles by using "PIP" to describe package insert programs. We're all guilty of doing this, and what started as an abbreviation has become an epidemic of potentially damaging proportions to the industry.

You can see how narrow the marketplace really is if you consider that the only marketers aware of package inserts and related alternative print media distributions are, for the most part, those that are using, have used or are contemplating using inserts.

Without an appropriately descriptive name, there will be a further tendency for the alternative print media to disappear.

Alternative print media and alternative media, as described by SRDS and other resource directories, include package inserts, statement and invoice inserts, catalog bind-ins and blow-ins, sampling programs of various sorts, giveaways and related distributions both to direct-mail-generated and nondirect-mail-generated distributions.

Considerable energy and money have gone into the development of insert mailers and insert programs during a 35-year-plus history. The insert industry, regardless of what you call it, supports many companies, their employees and families and collateral industries, most notably the printing and lettershop industries.

The revenues paid to insert program owners, directly and through their managers, amount to a considerable sum. Depending on how you view and describe it, it is surely more than $1 billion.

The sales generated from placing inserts in packages, statements, catalogs and other vehicles are many times the dollar figure spent on obtaining the distribution.

Many companies' marketing budgets are totally or primarily spent on inserts. Many brokerage/management firms depend on inserts for the bulk of their business.

While it has been difficult for many to push the promotion and development of the insert industry, it has been done with ethics and continues to grow.

There is an Alternate Response Media council sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association, and every major trade publication has an alternative media section of some sort. DM News has an Alternative Print Media section. The SRDS and mIn systems acknowledge the medium.

There is heavy advertising and promotion by the major managers in most publications to support and promote package inserts and various forms of alternative print media.

It may be time to get together and push the reality that package inserts are no longer the alternative.

The venue for this exists within the Alternate Media council. All of the players are members, and a spirited debate on what to call alternative media might result in a more appropriate and descriptive name. It certainly should not be PIP.

Let's bury PIP and call it by its rightful name: package inserts, or alternative print media, or your choice, just not PIP.

PIP, rest in peace.

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