Insert Media Buying Guide: Thinking Outside of the Mailbox
Given the howls of agony coming from direct marketers feeling the sharp stab of the recent postage rate hike—not to mention the confusion over the new shape-based pricing system—now is a good time to look at a classic form of direct response marketing overlooked by many: inserts.
There are several different types of inserts—including statement stuffers, package inserts and catalog bind-ins—but for now, let’s focus on newspaper FSIs.
FSI is short for “free-standing insert,” which are those colorful brochures that fall out of newspapers. They offer a cornucopia of stuff—everything from grocery specials to sales on electronics, gardening and remodeling products and services, low-cost check reprint services and address labels, even travel deals.
“Big box” stores like Target, Home Depot and other local, regional and national merchants love ‘em. There’s a reason for that: FSIs are a perfect way to drive traffic (or get a toll-free phone order or Web order) without sticking a stamp on the offer or hoping a mailing is delivered in time for a weekend sale. Instead, the FSI is inserted into a newspaper, then delivered to a paid subscriber or along a geographic carrier route.
But FSIs are not the sole province of huge retailers. Given the segmentation possibilities offered by many newspapers, FSIs are worth consideration by nearly any size business for at least two reasons. First, you benefit from postage savings; FSIs are about 10 times cheaper than traditional direct mail. Second, you can target your insert. You can choose saturation placement or segment your market through delivery zones or ZIP codes.
One unique advantage of FSIs, notes Linda Kelley, president of CB/m Inc., a Bloomington, Minn.-based direct response advertising agency, is that the advertiser can control not only the creative that’s distributed, but also the day of distribution. For one remodeling client, timing makes all the difference.