The Growing Advantages of Insert Media for Fundraising
For many years, nonprofit organizations have used direct mail as a primary tool for raising funds and generating new donors. And along with direct mail, other channels including telemarketing, print ads, television and now the Internet have successfully provided a venue for nonprofits.
Each of these channels, however, has its limitations. Among the challenges that nonprofits contend with are rising postal rates, dwindling list universes and higher printing costs. With lists, print and telemarketing, falling response rates have been a perennial problem.
One of the most intriguing media channels that recently has received attention from all sectors is insert media.
What is insert media?
Frankly, it’s any media channel that can accept a third party insert, including credit card statements, package inserts, catalog blow-in inserts, cooperative direct mail, newspaper inserts, sampling programs and cable television statement inserts.
What are the advantages of using insert media?
The first advantage is cost. At about one tenth the cost of direct mail, it can be tested without much risk. In fact, one can test 50,000 pieces in a program at less than a 5,000-piece list test. Compared to direct-response television and direct mail, the cost of creative deployment is far less expensive, as well. The most important fact here is effeciency. Response is not proportional to cost and, in fact, many marketers find that they achieve a lower advertising-to-revenue ratio with this medium.
The second advantage is exposure. Unknown to most marketers, there are literally billions of inserts distributed each year. A marketer can put an insert into every household in the United States each month. In addition, it has been known to boost the response results of other channels.
Another important advantage is the implied endorsement. With package inserts, catalog blow-ins and other insert channels, you are riding along with a company’s product or communication with their customers. This has the effect of implying an endorsement of your organization. In fact, we have found that an actual endorsement increased response an average of 15 percent over a non-endorsed piece.
How do you get started?
The first thing is to contact an agency with a good deal of experience in insert media. These groups perform as creative and offer consultants, and their buying power helps you get the best media rates. Unlike direct mail, your inserts will be delivered to a variety of fulfillment locations, and the logistical support should not be understated. For the initial stage of testing, an agency that can provide turnkey support, creative, print production and media buying saves you the need for internal resouces.
I advise that an initial media plan include a dozen or so programs just as a list test includes ten or 12 new lists. This diversifies your risk, expands your learning and sets the stage for future expansion. Your creative should reflect the look and feel of your control offer and creative from other channels. New creative developed specifically for this channel may be appropriate to test.
Dan Plunkett is senior vice president of marketing for Scarsdale, N.Y. full-service media agency Singer Direct. He can be reached at email@example.com or 914.472.7100.