Insert Media: Add Revenue with an Insert Media Program
Insert media has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade, so much so that advertising agencies now look to package insert programs in order to distribute and test-market products from leading manufacturers. But as often happens, questions about creating and maintaining a successful insert program abound. What follows are questions catalogers often ask when pondering the use of insert media, as well as some questions they may not have considered.
¥ Won’t my brand suffer if I allow other businesses to place their offers in my packages? By placing inserts into your packages, you are not losing control of your brand. As the program owner, you always have the last word on what your customer receives and what you feel adds value to your brand. If you’re uncomfortable with a particular offer reaching your customers, don’t allow it in your program.
¥ Shouldn’t I protect my customer from extra offers that aren’t my own? Look at the lists you rent and exchange. Ask your broker to research how many of them have insert or blow-in programs on the market. You’ll be surprised at the number of participants, which is a long way of saying your customer already receives insert media. So if you’re not opening your packages to insert media, you’re not only missing an opportunity to connect in a different way with your customer, but the revenue also is flowing to some of your competitors and helping their businesses.
¥ How many inserts should I allow in my packages? Think about how you want to position the program within your company. Many programs exist simply to generate revenue and add to the bottom line. These programs routinely accept 12 or more offers. If you want to present to your customers only offers that are complementary to your own, you may accept just three to six inserts.
Weight is also a factor. How much weight can you add to an outgoing box without incurring further postal costs? A standard insert typically weighs 0.25 ounces. You may wish to establish a 0.10 ounce buffer, just in case a piece is slightly overweight. Most program owners charge more if an insert is overweight, and you always have the option of rejecting a piece if it will increase your postage cost.
¥ Aside from incompatible brands and overweight pieces, what other pieces might I reject? Some businesses will send actual products as inserts, such as detergent or shampoo samples. If your products could be damaged by an accidental spill, you may not want to allow such inserts. Perfume companies sometimes send strong-smelling samples. If the smell is strong enough, is that the first impression you want your customers to get when they open the box?
¥ Do I send enough packages to run a profitable program? Typically you ought to send out at least 200,000 packages annually to make a viable insert media program. If you send less, the increased cost may not be worth it in the long run.
¥ How do I get the inserts into the packages? Examine your fulfillment process and determine at which point it makes the most sense to add the inserts. Further, consider whether or not you will put the inserts in an envelope before placing them in your packages. Envelopes can enhance both your brand and the offers you include in your packages. If you accept a lot of inserts, an envelope will deliver a cleaner presentation to the customer and make it easier to insert at your distribution center (DC). If you have only a few inserts though, it may not be worth the extra cost.
Also consider how much buy-in you need from employees in the DC. Let your workers know how important it is that the inserts make it into every package. Often companies will see a smaller return on investment because workers felt it was too much effort to include the necessary inserts.
Jim Lynch is vice president of AM/Direct, the insert media division of Millard Group, a Peterborough, N.H.-based list brokerage/list management firm. He can be reached at (603) 924-9262 or email@example.com.