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Choosing an "ALTERNATE" Solution.


THE PAST FEW MONTHS haven't been easy for direct mailers. On Jan. 7, the U.S. Postal Service increased its rates, prompting many direct marketers to mail fewer prospecting packages and/or mail less frequently.

Hence, it's not surprising that alternate media programs are enjoying something of a resurgence in mainstream direct marketing. We're defining alternate print media here as any type of mailings or inserts that aren't products of solo direct mail, such as small rectangular ads inserted into Sunday newspapers or mailed envelopes full of coupons.

Before the recent postal hike, some marketers used solo mailings and catalogs as their main prospecting vehicle, and disregarded alternate media as a small-time venture. Other marketers became obsessed with the Web.

However, in today's environment, it's important for mailers to consider all available options when preparing a marketing plan. For the most part, alternate media programs have a lower cost of entry and are fairly inexpensive testing forums. They may be good ways to cheaply and efficiently prospect. And by using alternate media as part of an overall marketing mix, mailers may compensate for lost revenues from production costs and reinforce their current list marketing campaigns.


To be sure, the axiom "variety is the spice of life" certainly applies to alternate media. There are many different options from which to choose, and myriad things they do. Jody Smith, alternate media director at Walter Karl, a provider of list management, list brokerage and database services, notes, "The type of programs a mailer tests depends mainly on the market they're trying to reach and what type of marketing vehicle is available for that particular audience. There are many selections to choose from," she continues. "It depends on the mailer's budget, his or her target market, the size of the mailer's insert piece and more."

When deciding what marketing scheme to implement with alternate media, you must choose the best way to convey your message depending on the demographic you're trying to reach and the price you're willing to pay. For instance, Michael Feldstein, director of alternate media for Boardroom Inc., publisher of Bottom- Line/Personal and other publications, uses package insert programs. "We get an acceptable cost per order, and the quality of the names is as good as direct mail sold buyers. The response is not nearly as high as direct mail, but because the cost is lower, the economics work out."

He continues, "Package insert programs also allow marketers to reach a true hotline buyer, and there is an implied endorsement if you're in the same package as merchandise being shipped by a company.

Following are a few of the more popular forms of alternate media:

* Statement Stuffers--inserts that are contained in billing statements and invoices. Statement stuffers can be good marketing methods because recipients may already have proven their credit-worthiness by making credit card purchases.

* Co-ops--inserts included with different offers together in one envelope. There's a chance your insert may get lost amid the clutter of these mailings, but the more inserts in a co-op, the less expensive it is to participate.

* Package Inserts--inserts that are shipped with mail-order packages. These can be targeted to consumers based on the products they buy. Plus, these consumers already have proven to be receptive to mailed offers, so your insert may have a good chance of being seriously considered.

* Card Decks--business reply cards mailed together in a single package, similar to the co-op option. Although card decks are more targeted than coops, they're still a cost-effective and efficient way to reach a large, primarily business-to-business, audience.

* Newspaper Inserts--loose inserts placed in newspapers in diverse markets. These may work for you because newspapers often deliver responsive clientele to their advertisers' marketing campaigns.

Once you find your niche with alternate media outlets, you may see what important marketing tools they really can be. "Inserts [are] an under-estimated medium," says Leon Henry, CEO of Leon Henry, an insert/mailing list brokerage company. "But those mailers with understanding of its abilities use more each year."

By reaching your target audience through a variety of advertising media, you can maximize exposure and increase the mailer's overall response rates, says Smith. Alternate media programs are an important component of a well-rounded marketing campaign.


By incorporating different mailing media into your marketing strategy, you can target a much wider spectrum of consumers, and as a result, gain a much larger response, explains Smith. Once you're familiar with your demographic and start gaining decent response rates, you can incorporate more diverse types of alternate media into your mix for an even greater result.


While the postal hike has upped the ante on almost every form of targeted mailings, alternate media has remained nearly unscathed. "There were a few insert program managers that raised their prices on their inserts because their own postage increased," says Feldstein "But for the most part, the price of alternate media has remained constant this year."

Jeff Giordano, president of Media Solutions Services, a provider of targeted consumer segments, says that, excluding on-page advertising and unique inserts, costs range from $20 to $50 per thousand for a variety of alternate print media These media include billing statement inserts, cooperative mail programs, catalog blow-ins and others.

He notes "[Alternate medial is a broad category. But for us, we're able to test scores of product offers at a fairly low cost." So for a reasonable price, you can use a variety of alternate media, and get your campaign off to a good start by using diverse marketing methods.

In short, using alternate media is a way to do targeted marketing at a lower cost than solo mail. It's good for prospecting because it's cost-effective, and it may benefit marketers by getting an ad in front of a broader audience.
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Title Annotation:direct mail marketing
Comment:Choosing an "ALTERNATE" Solution.(direct mail marketing)
Publication:Target Marketing
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2001
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