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Inserts Prove Profitable At Attracting New Clients; Much Cheaper Than Other Methods

by Trey Ryder

I recently finished my first effort in the political arena. One of my friends was running for Superior Court judge in Gila County. (In rural Arizona counties, judges are elected.)

Thankfully, my friend won. And one of the key tools we used was newspaper inserts.

Lawyers often consider direct mail as a way of reaching prospects, but the high costs of printing -- combined with ever-increasing postage rates -- result in direct mail being one of the most expensive methods of promotion.

If you're looking for broad distribution of your marketing message, without the cost of postage, consider newspaper inserts.

I once tested the exact same ad as an insert in a small newspaper, and as a display ad in a newspaper with a much larger circulation. The insert in the small newspaper was immediately profitable, but the display ad never covered its cost.

The problem is that most people scan newspapers for articles and avoid display ads. But inserts attract attention because they are loose in the newspaper and usually printed on colored paper.

Inserts provide added benefits as well. You can choose targeted publications, such as daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, business newspapers and any other publications that accept inserts. What's more, you can often choose specific zip codes within publications so you target the exact neighborhoods or business districts where you want your message to appear.

Publications may offer to print inserts for you and then stuff them into the newspaper. Others, depending on their printing presses, may ask you to bring inserts already printed. If you supply the inserts, then you pay only the cost of inserting them into the zip codes or areas you select.

GRAPHICS: Your insertís graphics must seize your prospectís attention. Still, that doesnít mean your insert must look like a used-car ad. Through the use of dark blocks of copy, handsome borders and direct-eye-contact photographs, you can present your message with dignity and still capture your target audienceís interest.

PAPER: The paper stock you select makes a difference, as well. The heavier the paper, the more substantial it feels and the more substantial your prospects believe you are, too. The color of the paper is also key.

In general, people are attracted to warm colors, such as reds, oranges, yellows, beiges and browns -- and not attracted to cool colors, such as grays and blues.

Also, don't forget to consider how the ink will look when printed on colored paper. Printing on paper that is red or brown can be really hard to read, so when choosing your paper, look for samples printed on that same color stock.

OFFER: You can test various offers on your inserts. On one, you might offer free educational materials available from your office. On another, you might invite prospects to attend your free seminar. On yet another, you might steer prospects to your web site. And another time, you might invite prospects to call for a free telephone consultation.

If you want to include a longer message -- to educate prospects about their problem and the solutions you can provide -- print the insert on both sides. This doubles the length of your marketing message, which almost always draws a greater response.

The only way to know which offer works best is to track the prospects who inquire from each offer and see which message brings the clients you want. Donít count only the number of inquiries. Instead, track the inquiries and see how many turn into profitable clients.

JUDGE'S CASE: In this latest election, we used inserts printed on white coated stock, like magazine stock. We used paper of "cover weight" so the insert was rigid. We printed the entire piece in only black and white. And thanks to my designer, we turned black ink on white paper into an insert with amazing -- yet dignified and professional -- impact.

We expected to compete with many political inserts in the weeks before the election, so rather than using an ordinary 8.5" x 11" insert, we designed ours to be 9.25" x 12". This way, no matter where the newspaper put it, it would stick out from all the rest. (If you want to use an odd-sized paper as we did, make sure you first find out if the newspaper has any limitations on the insertís size.)

Iím not suggesting the insert won the election. My friend worked very hard, investing countless hours speaking to groups, networking, and doing all the right things. Still, the insert played a key role in delivering a powerful message again and again, while his competitor floundered and ultimately lost.

SUMMARY: If you have not received a good response to your marketing message -- and you think your message is compelling -- try your message on an insert directed toward your target audience. That alone may make all the difference.