Insert Media: Potentially Rewarding but “Not for the Faint of Heart”

Are insert media for everyone? Executives from Littleton Coin Co. told attendees of a DMA Insert Media Council luncheon in New York last week that prospecting via insert media can lead to blood, sweat, and tears, but if done correctly, it can also lead to larger house files.

“It’s not for the faint at heart; it’s a very complicated and complex media,” said Jeffrey S. Marsh, senior vice president of the Littleton, NH-based direct marketer of collectibles. “It’s not easy to get the media to work for you, but it is definitely something that is doable.”

Marsh said that from a direct marketing standpoint, processes to promote privacy issues – such as the Can-Spam Act of 2003 and do-not-call laws – are making prospecting via e-mail and phone more difficult. At the same time, the use of certain insert media has also become more challenging.

For instance, continued mergers in the banking industry have altered the strategies behind the use of credit-card statement inserts. Instead of smaller placements with multiple banking institutions, each placement is now very large, and marketers using those inserts now have a lot more riding on them.

“It really raises the stakes for existing marketers because you’re spending a lot of money with a credit-card insert program, and if it doesn’t do well, you have to turn to other media, with little time to do it,” Marsh said. “The risk is high, but the reward can be high as well.”

Karen A. Mayo, group marketing manager with Littleton, said that for all the time and energy to spend to get into the placement, you have to spend the same amount of time, if not more, monitoring a campaign and reacting as soon as you see something that may not seem right.

“If you see offer fatigue, you have to be ready to change your plan on a dime,” Mayo said.

Mayo cautioned that while you need to find an insert media broker who is going to work with you every step of the way, you know your offers better than anyone else. If the offer doesn’t seem to be performing and you can’t figure out what’s going on with your response curve, you have to be willing to ask questions and demand answers.

“Basically it’s a finicky media, and the response is going to be finicky,” Mayo said. “When you have that gut feeling it’s not going right, work really hard to exclude all possibilities before you assume it really is okay.”

Marsh added that as the tactic evolves further, Littleton Coin would like to see new opportunities within insert media. “Insert media is good, and it will continue to be good, but it needs a way to develop new markets for the niche,” Marsh said.

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