By Robert Imbriale, Business Coach
So, you've got a great product to sell. You know that there is a market out there just waiting to buy your product and you have the ability to provide them by the thousands. But, you don't have the money to send them a sales letter or brochure that will entice them to buy your hot new product. What do you do?
If you've not been involved in the direct marketing industry for very long, you have probably not been exposed to the term "alternative media." Don't let the name fool. By no means is this a "get-rich-quick" or scam or any sort. In fact, it's a means that allows you to reach your target market for just pennies per name.
This industry has been growing and with today's higher postage rates, more and more companies are starting alternative media programs. What these programs are, in essence, are shared mailings. Let's say a company regularly sends out invoices or statements to its customers. Inside those invoice envelopes, you can buy space for a few cents per envelope to place your advertising message.
Both companies win with this sort of arrangement because they share the cost of mailing the invoice envelope and both of them get their message to the desired prospect. You can already see how powerful this sort of arrangement can be. The next time you get a credit card statement, look to see who else is sharing space inside the envelope. I'll bet you'll find more than just the credit card company's message inside.
Today, there are literally hundreds of companies offering alternative media programs. Most of them are not statement or invoice envelope stuffers, but rather package inserts, bind-ins, blow-ins, or ride-alongs. Simply put, your message can either travel inside an envelope, inside a package, along with a book or other publication, or can be bound inside of a magazine. Each program offers differing ways in which to share to the cost of distributing your advertising message.
Here's another great way to save money on your direct marketing efforts. You can be a part of a co-op program which is essentially a program that contains nothing more than advertising media from a variety of companies inside a common envelope. These programs are often the least expensive type of alternative media program and are a great way for a small business to get started in direct marketing.
The key to making these types of program work is to produce a powerful marketing message that will get the recipient's attention and keep it. Your message is rarely the only advertising message being included in an envelope or package, so it has to be strong, has to make people stop to read it, and it must clearly state the benefit to the reader in just a few seconds.
Having said that, can you be successful with these types of programs? The answer is Yes!. In fact, many advertisers continue marketing this way for years because the programs remain successful for them.
Typically, alternative media programs work best for low cost consumer items, but they can also be successful for a wide range of products and services provided the advertising piece has been tested for that specific type of advertising media. As in any other type of advertising media, you have to test your copy, your offer and the media for yourself before rolling out 100,000 pieces!
As in all advertising, you may find yourself testing several advertising messages until you determine which one will work best in this unique type of media. The plus side is that although testing is a part of any direct mail program, alternative media programs won't cost you a fortune to test. I've seen alternative media programs available to advertisers for as little as $20 per thousand, which works out to a mere 2 cents per name! Where else are you going to find that kind of a bargain in the advertising world?
At these prices you can afford to test a number of designs, messages, and offers until you find the best combination for your product. I've seen many advertisers sending out hundreds of times more advertising materials because of the low costs involved.
Here are some tips and insider secrets to making these types of programs successful for you.
Make sure you use bold colors for your advertising piece. Your piece will not be alone, so it has to stand out among the others in the envelope or package. You want the recipient to see your piece first and grab it before they even notice the others!
Use an attention-grabbing headline that offers such a great benefit to your reader that they simply have to read the rest of your message! Use big, bold type that can be seen and read from a few feet away. I like to use questions as my headlines. These get the reader to think and will compel them to read your piece to find an answer to the question you just asked. A good question headline might read: Are You Tired of Paying Too Much For..
With a lead in like that, anybody who agrees that they are paying too much for whatever is bound to read your advertising piece cover to cover!
Next, be sure you have an offer that is compelling enough to make your prospect pick up the phone and order immediately! Don't use a deadline in alternative media programs because you'll never be sure when your message will be delivered, but you can enhance the offer with special bonuses that will make it more than irresistible.
If possible, use risk-reversal and offer either a guarantee of satisfaction or other device that will make it easy for your prospect to place their order immediately. Risk-free offers will always out-pull offers that require the prospect to take a "leap of faith" in dealing with your firm.
Make it easy to order! How many times have you tried to order something and just could not fit all your address and credit card information on the tiny order coupon? Don't make this mistake! It will cost you hundreds of sales, guaranteed. Make your order coupons, friendly, easy to fill out and leave plenty of space for long or irregular addresses.
If you can afford it, offer a toll free order line. This will increase the number of responses you get to your offer by a factor of 10 or more. Make sure you mention that this number is for ordering only, otherwise you'll end up with hundreds of phone calls from people looking for more information!
By the way, if you do end up with those types of calls, listen to what the people are saying. It's possible you omitted something from your marketing piece that is costing you sales. Make sure you add anything you've missed in your next edition. This will avoid a lot of those types of calls, but it will also answer the question for the many other people who may also want to know but who would never call and just toss your offer aside!
Another key element to keep in mind is to test different alternative media programs. Your offer may work great in one program and bomb in another. Test several of them until you find the one that works best for your offer, then roll-out your offer to the entire program!
What I like best about alternative media programs is their cost-effectiveness. As an advertiser, all you have to do is ship your flyers or brochures to the company who is offering the program. They take care of it from there. There are no envelopes to stuff, no postage to worry about, no returns, no mailing lists, and no complex postal regulations to worry about. In many ways, alternative media programs are the best way to advertise!
If you're interested in learning more about alternative media programs and how you might be able to take advantage of them for your offerings, drop me a line, or give me a call, I'd be happy to share my information with you!
Mr. Imbriale is a nationally recognized Business Coach, Speaker, Copywriter, and Author of "Internet Marketing Secrets." Many companies nationwide have used his marketing techniques to dramatically expand their businesses without spending a fortune. If you would like a Free Business Check-Up for your business, a seminar schedule, or would like to order a copy his book, contact Mr. Imbriale's office toll-free at 1-888-226-8109 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brokers Worldwide can be reached at 1-800-624-5287. Call Mr. Gary Shunk for more information about mailing internationally and to receive a free copy of the Brokers Worldwide monthly newsletter.
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