How to Get Started with Insert Media

Catalogers and other mailers that have been contemplating using insert media can start today if they follow these simple steps.

  1. Prepare one insert. If you do not have something to use as an insert, you will need something. It can be a space ad modified in size or even something created from your Website, so long as it is the right size and weight as specified by the owner of the programs you’ll be testing. It needs to have a strong headline, a compelling reason to buy or inquire, and a method by which the inquiry is made – mail, phone, fax, Website, e-mail. Based on results, you will be changing variables when you have sufficient information on which insert programs are productive.
  2. Test smart. The common complaint is something to the effect, “I tested inserts, and they didn’t work.” How is it, then, that many other marketers have successfully used tens of millions of inserts to sell their products? They tested, and they tested smart. This means as many tests as the test budget allows. It means testing in a statistically reliably manner. Initially use a copy approach that has worked in other media for your test vehicle. Larger, more sophisticated companies can go with two copy themes.
  3. Use a mixture of insert programs when you test. There are many tried-and-true, long- standing, well-known insert program,s and they should logically be at the top of your test wish list. It is also the new, relatively unknown insert programs that provide the excitement of discovering the potential for profit. They also belong in the test matrix.
  4. Use a broker. There is a reason for using a broker when initially placing inserts as well as when continuing and expanding. The broker knows the marketplace. In the test phase, the important point is to have a representative sampling of which insert programs are available. Brokers know the background of most insert programs and can steer you to the more suitable choices. Brokers also do exchanges that give insight into response rates for various programs. As the test matures, you’ll need to expand to the continuation phase. When you’re ready to roll out, the broker will find and open new insert programs for you.
  5. Remember the One, Two, Three Rule: Test, retest, and then expand. Works for lists. Is a must for inserts. Initial efforts in the testing phase are awkward and time-consuming for all mailers. In most cases, the effort pays off with a steady stream of sales or leads. There are innumerable cases of mailers using multimillion inserts annually as a result of successful tests.
  6. Key by program. Among the cardinal sins of start-up mailers is to look for cost savings by avoiding the keying of inserts to each program.
  7. Don’t haggle over price when testing. Testing is to find out where to go next. Tests are small, and the amount paid when properly entered into your profit and loss statement does not affect the overall results. Missing the goldmine program by not paying for it is where the loss is.
  8. Finally, always ask for proof of delivery of your inserts. The simple receipt obtained by your broker from each program precludes arguments down the line.

Leon Henry is chairman/CEO of the Hartsdale, NY-based list services firm that bears his name.

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