September 19, 2017

By Polly Wong

Holiday planning is now. Need a refresh on formatting & usage? Our pleasure:

Full trim size catalog (8.5 x 10.5, 28 plus pages)

  • Reliable for driving response and sales; assume at least 60 products for traditional categories (2-3 items per page on average)
  • Abundance of space story-telling
  • Can put a very effective piece in the mail for less than $0.55 including postage

Digest size catalog (6 x 9, 20 plus pages)

  • Very affordable (approximately $0.46 per piece)
  • Can be successful for the second mailing within a season or to drive a specific product launch or collection, such as holiday gifts
  • Like the “Slim Jim” (6 x 10) – also very effective because of postal and paper efficiencies

Tri-fold (6 panels) or double gatefold (8 panels) (must be at least 6 x 9)

  • Cost-effective (under $0.44 per piece, depending on quantity)
  • Should not be used to push a wide assortment
  • Useful for traditional brands (such as apparel or home)
  • These pieces are most applicable for events or special promos like “Friends and Family”
  • For brands with a narrow product assortment, these pieces can be used to drive awareness and conversion because the 6 or 8 panels is enough to communicate the value and benefits of one hero product

Folded cards (in envelopes)

  • Most effective for triggered mailings such as the customer’s birthday or one-year anniversary of purchase
  • Must include an offer such as a $15 gift card to be effective – can be executed with a unique coupon code

Oversized postcards (thumbs down!)

  • We rarely recommend a postcard
  • Postcards should only be used to drive big sale events to existing customers, not to be sent to prospects

We are happy to expand upon any of the insight discussed here. Please feel free to reach out to Polly at [email protected].

September 12, 2017

By Lori Keiling

Have you ever really asked yourself, “Exactly what is alternate media?” It has evolved quite a bit, let us tell you.

For approximately 40 years, it was simply called, “Inserts.” In the early 90’s, it was polished up to “Insert Media”, and about 15 years ago, industry leaders renamed it “Alternate Media” because they felt the word “Insert” did not fully express the breadth of the media. So, “Alternate Media” was adopted by consensus, but the title still falls short. Continue reading, and you will find out why!

The evolution of Inserts:

The original: Package Insert Programs.

Where third-party advertisements, otherwise known as “Inserts,” are placed in outgoing customer merchandise shipments. These can reach a highly targeted, super-hotline buyer at a low cost.  Many companies accept inserts weighing up to 2 ounces for an additional cost and therefore, larger formats, like mini catalogs, are an excellent option here (and boost results!).

A close relative? The Sampling Program.

Associated with the Package Insert, product samples are placed in customer boxes and bags by companies with the ability to handle larger, heavier pieces. Packaged goods companies have successfully advertised in these types of programs for decades.

Yet another relative? The Ride-Along.

Also linked to the Package Insert, a ride-along is typically an added customer touch (a bonus, if you will). Some companies accept inserts into non-catalog mailings to active customers or subscribers. In fact, book companies made the ride-along huge before the internet with reader selections mailed monthly (Brownie points for those of you that can recall). You better believe that newsletter publishers also offer ride-along opportunities. This type of program keeps the message/promo in front of the prospects on a regular basis, and usually requires a lightweight ad.

Alert! Industry Insight: Catalog Blow-in and Bind-in Programs.

Place a small, lightweight insert into a prospect or house catalog mailing. It is an effective way to get a complementary offer into the hands of potential buyers at decision-making time. Stick with us and we will share more industry insights with you – that is a promise.

Sharing is Caring. “Shared” Mailings a.k.a. Envelope or Co-op Programs.

These programs have withstood the test of time and are being reinvented by newer brands today (Aha! There is that evolution terminology again).  Advertisers looking for huge circulation quantities with geo targeting at a very low cost, love shared mailings – we really mean it. Over the last 2 years, new shared mailings have launched to address the needs of emerging brands with modeled universes delivering to affluent families and individuals, new home buyers and younger audiences. For those of you who have been there from the beginning, shared mailings are no longer solely for lower-end, highly promotional, broad-based offers.

The scoop on FSI’s (Free-Standing Inserts).

There are two giants in the field, Redplum and Smartsource, with astronomical circulation and detailed geo targeting. These products are somewhere between a shared mailing and an insert (a distant cousin), arriving solo in the mailbox and nested into newspapers. A Belardi/Ostroy Tip: Geo targeting is hard to find in alternate media, so these kinds of programs are the best option if it is required for your marketing tactics (See, we promised more tips!).

The secret sauce…Publishers.

Aside from on-page advertising, inserts can be placed inside newspapers (another way to geo target) and can be polybagged outside magazines, known as onserts. A Belardi/Ostroy Tip: Minimums are high for some of these options and extra time is needed for approvals and printing of some statements, but there are strong scalability methods for these programs, and usually high visibility for the insert.

Clearly, “Inserts” have transformed and evolved over time to “Alternate Media.” From its beginning as an enclosure program, this entity has grown to include many different types of media and sources. While they are all historically connected, Alternate Media’s story is not yet finished. Stick around to witness this chameleon-like unit continue its path.

Interested in learning more about Alternate Media and how you can promote your company’s products and services through this channel? Please reach out to Lori Keiling, VP Alternate Media Acquisition.

September 5, 2017

By Jeanette Cassano

2017: A year of increased awareness and activism, which has translated to bigger opportunities for nonprofit organizations across the political landscape. Why? The genesis of this environment was the unique and engaging 2016 presidential election with its 17 Republican and 5 Democratic candidates.  The outcome: The abundance of donations in the fundraising landscape today can be traced back to the 2016 election – including the proven strength of the integration of email, direct mail and social media.

In the thick of it all, Belardi/Ostroy has understood how our clients can be increasingly successful – in both the fundraising and commercial markets. Because of our nation’s current political, economic and social environment, fundraising is an ever-changing entity. Thus, nonprofits must consider several issues to maintain their relevancy and most importantly, to encourage generous giving:

  • Ease of Giving Across all Channels – Donors span all age ranges, so we need to make it is simple for donors and prospects to contribute through any given channel (direct mail, online or mobile)
  • Giving Opportunities – Stay abreast of breaking issues! Connect with your donors and prospects in a timely fashion via direct mail and online so when they are motivated they can donate through internal appeals or acquisition
  • Stay Pertinent – Similar to ‘Giving Opportunities,’ the more you connect your mission and its impact to current events – by demonstrating how your organization specifically meets a need within society – the more likely prospects and donors will support your cause
  • Communication – Donors need to know they are essential to your success; constantly convey how they help you succeed and thank them for their commitment to your foundation

The innovative fundraising tactics and increased communication that started in the presidential cycle have created a potential new force in all realms – political, economic and social. However, the question remains: Can it be sustained?

Interested in hearing more about how our nonprofit clients are operating in this environment? We will be discussing how to “Break the Mold” in today’s environment at Belardi/Ostroy Fundraising’s 3rd Annual Nonprofit Summit in Washington, D.C. next month.  If you are interested in attending, please contact Bethany Christie or Jeanette Cassano.

August 29, 2017

By Bethany Christie

By definition, a “trend” is a general direction in which something is developing or changing. You may be thinking, “Well, what is not changing in marketing these days?” We agree. However, it is important to stay on top of the more general trends – applicable to companies of all sizes and brands with diverse audiences and reach.

 We wanted to share with you some of the latest developments we have noticed:

  • Successful companies are product-focused and showcase a unique brand
  • Collaborations and partnerships are key
  • Keep subscription and delivery top-of-mind
    • The rise of the ShopRunners, Amazon Primes and Google Expresses should be on your radar
  • Stories, community engagement and entertainment are more important than ever
    • Tell your brand story to a specific community; cut through the noise with tailored campaigns
  • Personalization is popular – get familiar with your customers and market specifically to this population
  • Consumers are constantly using planning tools and style finders such as Houzz, Stitch Fix, Wayfair and Ikea
  • Significant rise in cross-channel marketing
  • Influx of tools such as augmented and virtual reality
  • Include mobile/ friction-free marketing (it is best to think of this as one entity) as part of your marketing strategy

Interested in more information? Reach out to Polly Wong at [email protected].

August 22, 2017

By Samantha Fernandez

After attending the “Prove it! Attribution & Analytics” event hosted by the San Francisco Bay Area Innovation Group, I compiled my key takeaways and themes from the session. The panel included marketing leaders and agency folks, and the main topics were:

  • From media mix modeling to multi-touch attribution, there are unlimited solutions – how do they work together?
  • Explore whether there is a silver bullet or combination of solutions that marketers can use to best address this messy situation

At Belardi/Ostroy, we are relentlessly focused on understanding the latest trends across topics. Here are the key takeaways and themes from the event:

  • “Analytics is similar to religion;” once you pick a type, you have to have faith and stick with it.
  • Be wary of “overselling” attribution and analytics as they exist today; they are still very much a vision. We do not yet have the capability to interpret all the data available to us.
  • “Consistent inconsistencies;” keep assumptions constant over time yet discover the trends.
  • Patience can be a reflection of understanding. Mapping out leading indicators for short-term ROI to gain some comfort is recommended.
  • Material benefit vs. branding; not everything can or should be measured.
  • Make conscious decisions instead of letting data dictate everything. (very important!)
    • Data cannot always replace gut instinct
    • Marketing is both an art and a science

To conclude, the panelists debated whether advertising is more impressive today due to analytics. The general consensus? Yes. Ads are more relevant and timely – and this is because of analytics.

We are always happy to discuss our experience with attribution and analytics. Please feel free to reach out to Polly Wong at [email protected].