How to Make Your Insert Media Stand Out
There are both general creative guidelines and more specific strategies that can effectively guide your insert approach, depending on the program you choose to carry your insert. In many programs, the inserts from all participating companies are "gang printed" together to adhere to the host company's restrictions in size, weight and format, as well as to offer cost-savings to participants. Other programs allow marketers to print their own inserts, but still require them to follow strict format guidelines.
"There are usually restrictions," suggests Pat Friesen, president of direct marketing firm Pat Friesen & Co., "but within those, what you can do is vary your use of color and type, as long as it goes with your offer. If everyone else is using full-color, consider black and white."
As a general guideline, suggests Friesen, whose career has included stints with Fingerhut, Current Inc. and gift cataloger Walter Drake (where she managed the insert program), "Use large, bold type and a strong, simple offer. … Attach a swatch or a sample—anything to overcome that first objection and draw interest," she says. "You don't want to look like everyone else."
Despite many restrictions, size also is a consideration. "I always recommend taking advantage of the maximum size of the vehicle you're going into," says Doug Guyer, president of new business development for International Direct Response, which specializes in insert, list and print media channels, among other direct marketing disciplines. "Whether it's a catalog package insert program where you can go typically [larger] than most of the insert vehicles out there, or for a statement insert program, where you're going to be a little bit smaller, but you can make it the maximum size for a universal statement program, which is typically 3-1⁄2˝ x 6-3⁄4˝," he adds.
And, of course, as in any direct marketing medium, making it easy to order is essential. Giordano believes that the ease-of-order nature of the medium is among its most appealing elements, especially for more expensive items and in today's economic climate. "No money changes hands; you think, 'Yes, I want it,' and you just check off the box," he explains.