Below The Radar--And Working (1,977 words)
Mailers are having success with package Inserts, co-ops, Blow-ins and statement stuffers—they'd just rather not talk about it
By Alicia Orr
The title for this piece came from a conversation I had with Leon Henry during the Annual Catalog Conference in Boston last June. "You know," said Henry, chairman of Leon Henry Inc., "inserts fly below the radar screen. We're quite a large industry if you'd take the time to look. We're a factor and no one knows it."
So I accepted Henry's challenge and decided to tackle this story. No easy task. It's difficult, if not impossible, to accurately quantify the size of the industry. I contacted The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) and its Alternate Response Media Council, and was told no figures exist. Most mailers don't want to talk about the success they've had using co-ops, inserts, bind-ins, statement stuffers and other alternative print media. And even vendors don't want to share too much information on their businesses because by and large they are privately held. But those who did talk helped to shed some light on a media segment too important to ignore.
HOW BIG IS THIS INDUSTRY?
According to Leon Henry, direct marketers should recognize that the alternative print media industry is much larger than anyone realizes (there are brokerage firms that place more than one billion inserts per year, says Henry).
Here's Henry's math:
"If you look at the raw figures, there are about 700 to 1,000 insert program owners, some offering 15 ways into a package, and that's through known sources such as SRDS and MIN. There also are a host of private deals out there between companies. Only about 135 to 150 brokerage companies exist (with a company such as mine being in the mid-size range). There are 1,000 to 1,500 maximum direct mailers out there meaning there's a lot of uncovered ground. At least 15 to 20 billion inserts a year is what I can extrapolate from what I do plus the others.