Back to Blog List

Alternate Media: Boosting Your Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail is not dead. In fact, it’s quite healthy and still accounts for more revenue than any other fundraising channel. But because the fundraising marketplace is so competitive, it is necessary for organizations to pursue additional ways to connect with their current donors and effective methods for securing new ones. Supplementing traditional direct mail campaigns with alternate media is a great way to provide a much-needed boost to existing donor programs and bring new supporters into the fold.

The alternate media genre encompasses such media channels as:

Place highly impactful ads into third-party customer mailings and merchandise shipment
• Package Inserts – Ads placed inside consumer merchandise shipments
• Ride-Alongs – Ads included with regular customer mailings
• Statements – Ads included in customer billing statements or renewal notices
• Catalog Blow-ins – Ads blown loosely between the pages of merchandise catalogs

Run ad placements in relevant publications that reach consumers where they consume
• On-Page – Ads placed directly on magazine pages
• Bind-Ins – Pre-printed inserts bound into the magazine spine
• Tip-Ons – Pre-printed inserts adhered to a magazine page
• Onserts – Pre-printed inserts or samples included within a magazine’s plastic outer wrap

Reach consumers locally, regionally, and nationally with ad placements
• Run of Press – Ads printed directly on newspaper pages
• Solo Inserts – Pre-printed inserts are included inside newspapers
• Freestanding Inserts – Ads printed directly on pages or inserts blown into coupon books
• Sunday Supplements – Ads printed directly on pages of independently published national titles, such as PARADE and Spry Living, that are inserted loosely into newspapers

Targetable Mass Media
Include targeted ads in mass-distributed mailings sent directly to consumers
• Shared Mail – Ads inserted in or printed on pages of mass-distributed, direct-to-mailbox mailings that carry store flyers and loose inserts
• Cooperative Mailings – Vendor-produced or pre-printed inserts collated and mailed to targeted households on a regional or national basis
• Direct Response Advertising Magazines – Ads inserted as blow-ins or printed directly on pages of local, regional or national direct response magazines, such as Clipper, and mailed to consumers

Employing alternate media can be a highly effective fundraising tool due to some unique advantages:

It is low cost.
Existing direct mail package art can easily be modified for use within alternate media, and the cost of printing can be lessened by printing everything at once. But the main savings comes in the form of shared delivery charges. And don’t forget the postage savings!

It can be targeted geographically.
It’s easy to target to a specific region or area. Consider a penetration analysis of your existing donor base for even more precise targeting. 

It can provide added exposure.
Alternate media is often welcomed into homes in ways that traditional direct mail is not.

It carries an implied endorsement.
An insert that is mailed within a newspaper or magazine benefits from the implied endorsement of that newspaper or magazine.

While alternate media will never replace traditional direct mail, it is an effective complement to any direct mail program. It creates additional touch points for the existing donor base and helps target new audiences. 


Pete Cline

Associate Account Director