How to Work Out Mutually Beneficial Insert Media Partnerships
Insert media partnerships offer direct marketers great opportunities to engage other brands’ active, dedicated customers. The trick is to find the right partners to form a mutually beneficial bond for both parties. Here, Michael Feldstein, director of alternate media for Stamford, Conn.-based publisher Boardroom Inc., maps out how to go about finding mutually beneficial insert media partnerships, what the advantages and disadvantages are, and provides examples that have worked for Boardroom.
Finding a Match
In order for any insert media campaign to work, “it has to be a win-win,” says Feldstein, “meaning there has to be a benefit to the person going in with the insert that they’re going to get new buyers, and there has to be a benefit to the person allowing you to go in with the insert—increased revenue, exposure, etc. It can’t work for just one party.”
Secondly, Feldstein stresses, there must be synergy between the two marketers, most notably shared or overlapped demographics, otherwise the partnership makes little sense. Seek out companies that serve the same customer profiles so your offer resonates with the audience. Otherwise, it’s like flushing money down the toilet.
Finally, there has to be mutual trust between partners. “You want to be up-front in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish,” says Feldstein. “… Make sure that if you’re using the name of the partner in your creative, in your offer, that you’re representing them well from the start … so they don’t get insulted or turned off. Initially, there’s always a little bit of suspicion when it comes to these kinds of partnerships, so you have to generate enough trust for it to work.”
Advantages and Disadvantages
The major advantages of an insert media partnership revolve around acquiring new buyers and engaging active consumers. When you find the right partner, you can gain valuable new customers and garner good will. And ideally, both marketers gain revenue and exposure to new and different markets.
However, there a few pitfalls. Often, a partnership requires much more clearance and approvals than a traditional insert or ad placement. Usually legal counsel must sign off on everything, points out Feldstein, and “that often takes a lot of time. And sometimes there’s additional accounting issues and possibly additional processing issues.”
Despite the downfalls, insert media partnerships can be very successful. Take, for instance, Boardroom’s partnership with American Airlines. Several years ago, Boardroom targeted American Airlines frequent fliers in their frequent flier statements with their traditional insert for its newsletter Bottom Line: Personal. As added incentive, Boardroom gave people frequent flier miles when they paid for a subscription to the newsletter.
It was a beneficial joint venture for both Boardroom and American Airlines because the publisher gained subscribers and the airline was paid by Boardroom for the miles.
Catalogs also offer great opportunities for inserts. One example Feldstein shares is when Boardroom arranged with a certain cataloger to put a line of text at the bottom of the order form offering three free issues of Bottom Line: Personal, with the qualifier that Boardroom would invoice for the entire year, which of course the customer could cancel at any time. It tied in seamlessly in the order process, making it a higher probability that customers would accept the free issues offer. In return, Boardroom paid the cataloger for each customer that accepted the trial subscription.
Feldstein also suggests creating a catolog blow-in offer and offering catalog shoppers a gift certificate to that particular catalog if they buy your product promoted in the insert. That way, the buyer has an incentive to accept your offer and the cataloger gains more orders.
The opportunities insert media partnerships provide are plentiful if done right. But you have to be willing to put in the work to get the reward. “I think a lot of marketers tend to shy away from this kind of stuff because it does take a little bit more work, and it also is somewhat out of the box—meaning that you have to put together new creative and you have to customize the offer for a particular partner. That often takes a little more time and a little bit more effort. I do find some folks shy away from that because they don’t want to get involved with potential headaches,” says Feldstein. “But if it pays out, it can be good [for everyone involved].”