Alternate Options (2,181 words)
Have you tried direct mail and found it to be too expensive for prospecting? Do you want to qualify prospects using a cheaper vehicle before sending out a solo direct mail effort? Or would you like to add a new program to your marketing plan?
According to Jody Smith, alternate media director at Walter Karl, a good marketing plan includes alternate media as one of its elements. "As offers become more and more targeted and new mailers continue to enter the marketplace, no direct marketer should rely on just one form of advertising to meet or even exceed their desired goals. Whether looking to generate leads, promote sales or increase brand awareness, mailers need to consider all of the available options when preparing a marketing plan, and alternate media programs are an important component of a well-rounded marketing campaign."
With the high cost of direct mail and the relatively inexpensive cost of alternate print media, marketers should consider the multitude of alternative options available to them, including statement stuffers, ride-alongs, package inserts and co-ops—to name a few.
Statement stuffers are inserts included in invoices and billing statements. According to Jeff Giordano, executive VP at Media Syndication Global, one reason to add statement stuffers to your marketing arsenal is the huge universe of names available—130 million—to reach with your offer. It could be a good source of fresh names.
Comparatively speaking, there is no clutter in a statement mailing. Your insert is competing with only one or two other offers. This is because statement stuffers are mailed first class—which means the packages are weight sensitive. Thus, without paying for postage, your offer reaches the prospect via first class mail. Additionally, 98 percent of orders capture a credit card number.
What offers work well? Giordano says epicurean and continuity offers are strong, as buyers are purchasing on impulse. Price points should be tested, but can be fairly high.
With the printing costs, insertion fees and shipping costs, statement stuffers usually run about $40/M.
Besides the statement stuffer options available in the U.S., there are also opportunities for marketers interested in testing internationally to use this medium in Canada and the U.K.
There are several different options to consider when preparing your message for a statement stuffer. These options include a 3-panel, 2-panel, 1-panel and bangtail envelope. How you want to receive your response and how much money you want to spend will probably dictate your choice.
The bangtail is perfed off and rides back with the statement, while the 3-panel converts into a self-mailer. The 1-panel needs an inbound 800-number to be in place, as there isn't enough room to supply more information. Because most statements are mailed in small envelopes, your insert must be no larger than 31⁄2˝ x 61⁄2˝ to fit in the envelope.
Ride-alongs are inserts included in a package sent to a company's customers. An example would be an insert included in a continuity club's monthly mailer. According to John Ahern at American List Counsel, there are several good reasons to try ride-alongs. First, ride-alongs are going to direct mail responsive customers. These individuals have chosen to receive these mailings and they are more apt to open this mail, especially since account information is enclosed.
For example, with a BMG mailing, customers need to open the envelope and reply to whether they want to receive the featured selection. Only BMG members in good standing—those who have already bought and paid for the agreed amount of CDs—are sent ride-alongs.
Further, the prospect already has a relationship with this company, so putting your offer in the envelope implies an endorsement from the mailer. Finally, ride-alongs are an effective way for a company to get the word out to a lot of people for a low price. Customers of BMG clubs, for example, receive two mailings a month, which go out to 5 million members.
Ahern recommends testing continuity clubs to these prospects, as you already know that they aren't opposed to this type of offer.
Ride-alongs can cost anywhere from $40/M to $70/M, depending on the mailer and quantity of inserts, and garner a 1 percent to 11⁄2 percent response rate.
Package inserts are included along with a fulfillment package to a mail order customer. You're reaching people who order by mail, which means they, too, are direct-mail responsive. Again, because you are in another mailer's shipment or fulfillment package, an endorsement is implied. Most packages take four to eight inserts at a cost of $50/M.
Now there's a new twist on the package insert: the retail package insert. Lee Moore, Senior Manufacturers Liasion of the American Manufacturers Alliance, believes that the retail package is one area in which the invasion of the printed word—specifically advertising—has been invisible. The introduction of retail inserts has opened up a new vehicle to marketers.
In a retail package insert, inserts or samples are placed inside a polybag containing the instruction manual and warranty. Additionally, blurbs or bursts on the retail box alert the customer that a valuable offer is inside. The number of inserts has been restricted to a maximum of five to keep response rates high. According to studies, these inserts have a 94.6 percent readership rate.
Moore believes that purchasing a retail product is a singular event in a person's life and is a "feel good" opportunity to reach a customer, especially if he or she is pleased with the purchase.
Several companies have had success with retail package inserts by using strong tie-ins to the product, including an offer for cooking cards inserted in cookware and a video offer included with a popcorn maker.
A few of the considerations of inserts by mail—namely weight and size— aren't an issue when enclosed in a retail package. Samples such as CD-ROMs can also be placed in the retail package.
The main problem associated with retail package inserts is the time factor—how long a product sits in a warehouse or the retail shelf. However, with advances in warehousing, quicker time to the retail shelf, and barcodes, a manufacturer can track when products are bought, which means the insert and its response are tracked as well.
Over 2 billion coupons were redeemed last year. In addition, studies indicate that 94 percent of consumers like and use coupons, and 94 percent of consumers use direct mail coupons.
According to Meghan Putney, national account manager at MailCoups Inc. co-op mailings, which take coupons and inserts from various companies and puts them together in one envelope, are an effective way to reach a large amount of prospects at an economical rate.
Co-ops are probably the cheapest alternate media option at $8/M to $15/M. Although some marketers would argue that the amount of offers in the envelope is clutter, Putney believes that a mix of strong offers delivers value to the customer. Combined, the offers make the mailing more valuable as a whole. It also assures you that people will see your offer, even if they are not in the market for your product or service. Those who might not open your direct mail envelope will look at your insert.
You can target your offer with available selects of state, county, city, ZIP code, age, income and presence of children. Areas can be targeted with as few as 5,000 addresses by demographic and geographic selects.
What offers work best? On a national level, Putney recommends insurance, credit cards, entertainment, home improvement, books and photo processing.
A card deck (or card pack) is a stack of business reply postcards, measuring 3˝ x 5˝ or 5˝ x 7˝ mailed to targeted audiences of direct mail sold buyers, segmented by job title or lifestyle activities.
Prices range from $20/M to $40/M, with response rates varying from 0.25 percent to 1.5 percent. The best offers for card decks are usually soft, two-step offers, such as an offer for a free catalog, information or sample.
Venture Direct offers all you need to know about card decks at its Web site, www.venturedirect.com. There you will find specs and tips on how to design a winning card. Venture Direct suggests that you use a large headline filled with benefits; include strong visuals; write copy that gets to the point; ask for a response; and make it easy for the prospects to respond.
Card decks are a cost-effective way of reaching your market, but keep in mind that like some other alternate media options, your card is one of many in the deck competing for attention.
Sixty percent of U.S. households review newspaper inserts as part of their shopping purchase decisions every week, with 68 percent keeping these inserts for two to six days, reports Customer Focus, a national consumer trend study. Unlike mail, people chose to receive the paper, and go to the paper when they want to buy.
The problem in the past with newspaper inserts was the inability to target an audience. However, with Target Reach, you can now run a targeted newspaper insert campaign, using the circulation of more than 500 newspapers in over 200 markets and 17,500 individual neighborhoods.
Running inserts in newspapers allows marketers to have more flexibility in terms of size and format than those sent through the mail. Combining this flexibility with database marketing, markets can select an audience by market, lifestyle, demographics, sales potential, psychographics and product usage.
Target Reach's software program locates the neighborhoods where an advertiser's target audience lives and creates a customized distribution pattern; only those targeted prospects receive the inserts.
Sampling, Memo Boards and Airline Jackets
According to Lifestyle Change Communications president Bob Perlstein, alternate media can look old or tired, which dilutes response. If you buy into this theory, then you might want to try more unorthodox ways of reaching prospects.
One such method is sampling. These programs take your coupon, insert or sample and place them in the hands of your target audience to build brand awareness, brand identity and trigger a purchase.
Lifestyle Change Communications offers different programs of sampling, as well as other alternate media options.
For example, bags filled with free samples and coupons are distributed to new dog owners on the days of pet adoption or enrollment into dog training classes. According to Perlstein, this program is successful because adopting a dog is a life event, like having a baby or moving; people are more receptive to the right offers at these times.
Any marketer trying to reach dog owners, such as pet insurance, affinity credit cards and pet magazines, should try this program. Perlstein also believes it is a great way to reach families with young children.
Another important event in a person's life is going to college. One way to reach college students is the distribution of memo boards, which students often hang on their doors or walls. Students must fill out a profile to receive the memo boards, which are given out as they arrive at school for their fall semester. Offers inserted into the package can target this group of avid consumers.
Another unorthodox way of reaching prospects is through airline ticket jacket advertising. Various placements on the jacket can be purchased and by checking passenger demographics, you can determine whether this audience will respond to your offer.
These programs are a good way to get your offer into the hands of targeted niches, but the timing isn't as reliable as other forms of alternate media. The boards, for example, are distributed over a six-week period, making it difficult to get quick campaign results.
As the price of postage goes up, and response rates in direct mail dip, more and more marketers will turn to the option of alternate media. In turn, more alternate media opportunities will open up for marketers.
Says Jody Smith of Walter Karl, "List owners who are putting bounce-backs into their outbound packages are starting to realize that by opening their packages, catalogs and statements up to image-compatible, non-competitive inserts, they can enhance the value (or perceived value) of their packages, increase exchange opportunities and offset their postage and printing costs as well."
It's a win-win opportunity for everyone.
Bank, oil and retail stuffers. Cost: $40/M. Call Mike Epstein, Media Syndication Global, (212) 726-5214.
BMG Ride-along. Cost: $65/M. Call John Ahern, American List Counsel, (908) 874-4300, ext. 6231.
New dog owner sample bags, retail bags, college memo board inserts, airline ticket jackets. Cost: varies. Call Diane Sparks, Lifestyle Change Communications. (770) 984-1100.
Retail Package Insert Programs
Home and garden retail package inserts. Cost: $50/M. Call Lee Moore, American Manufacturing Alliance, (501) 623-6723.
Various programs available. Cost: $39/M. Call Venture Direct, (212) 684-4800.
Super Coups. Cost: $8/M. Call Meghan L. Putney, MailCoups Inc., (800) 626-2620.
Targeted inserts. Cost: varies. Call Joseph Fenton, Target Reach, (410) 361-8614.
Unsure of which alternate print media to test? Leon Henry Inc. offers literature on how to get started in alternate print media and the different options available. For information, call (914) 723-3176.