What to Look for in an Insert Media Broker
By Dan Plunkett
What should a marketer who is new to insert media look for in an insert media brokerage? This is an extremely important question, because success can depend on the assistance a marketer receives from its brokerage. As a former marketer, I remember that testing a new medium held a number of risks, not the least of which was the risk that I would be held responsible for campaigns I recommended and initiated. New test budgets were scrutinized, and failure in the initial test tended to kill any further funding. So what is important when considering an insert media brokerage?
Media buying for this medium should be the primary focus, not a sideline. Why do you go to a brokerage in the first place, rather than using your traditional ad agency? Because your agency tends to focus on advertising copy and design. A marketer who is looking for an insert media brokerage should search for a company that specializes in the medium—not one that approaches it as an offshoot of its list, space, or copy and design business.
What should you look for in a brokerage that specializes in insert media? First, a dedicated and trained staff focused on this medium. The staff should be efficient and demonstrate an acceptable level of professionalism. With the exception of the support staff who manage accounting and other day-to-day functions of running a business, the majority of the brokerage company's staff should be devoted to insert media planning and execution.
Planning and execution are more than just placing orders and following up on shipping. The brokerage should be able to offer solutions and ideas that influence the offer and creative of insert media campaigns. For marketers merely testing insert media, this insight is invaluable. A good brokerage can direct marketers to successful offers and formats, and help them avoid mistakes.
An attribute of a focused insert media brokerage is excellent operations. Many brokerages that only dabble in the medium have adapted their list or print systems to accommodate their needs. A brokerage that specializes in insert media will have built state-of-the-art computer systems providing fully customized reporting and logistical support specifically for insert media campaigns. This is important because insert media is different than lists or space advertising. Brokerage agencies must deliver printed material to various locations nationally, code them and track them. Lists do not have this requirement, and most marketers are not staffed to handle the detailed follow-up.
I recently read an article that referenced a chart from the Direct Marketing Association. The chart shows that of offer, creative and media, it was media that had the biggest impact on response by far. Once a solid control offer and creative approach is established, then media is the primary influencing factor. What is even more important is that a larger portion of the advertising budget is negotiable in insert media than in list campaigns. After all, when was the last time you negotiated a better postal rate? A brokerage that specializes in insert media will make rate negotiation priority number one for clients. This requires the brokerage have extensive presence, dynamic industry relationships and the volume to negotiate from a position of power.
This all boils down to being responsive to the marketer's special needs and developing a superior vendor/partner relationship. A good brokerage will learn and understand the business for every client, and provide for offer development and enhancement, vertical and targeted media placement, intense results analysis and acquisition strategies which will lead its partner to success in the medium.
DAN PLUNKETT is vice president of marketing for Fred Singer Direct. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.