It’s a trend: Hispanic newspapers are increasingly offering direct mail services to their advertisers. One reason is that advertisers have noted successful results when combining newspaper advertising and direct mail efforts. According to Myrna Cortez of the San Antonio Express News, “We are practically a full-service ad-agency, offering a wide array of programs to reach Hispanic consumers. We do combined newspaper/direct mail campaigns with our advertisers whenever possible, as we have experienced great success with this combined approach.” Given that Hispanic newspapers often have a limited reach, it makes sense for advertisers to also run direct mail campaigns.
Loida Ruiz of The Houston Chronicle also echoes the extent to which her paper’s direct mail program is similar to those of direct mail companies, such as Advo or Harte Hanks: “We are a direct mail house like any direct mail company. We have a database marketing department and we have access to the same lists rental. We can also clean customer lists. We can merge them with a prospect list and take out the duplicates. We can do solo mail and shared mail through our midweek mail product, Chron Direct. We can take it even further and we can take their customer base mailing list and we can do a PRIZM profile of that list. We can give them all the demographic information on their customer then we can choose a prospect list that matches their customers.”
However, one important advantage of direct mail companies (e.g. Advo, Harte Hanks and Cox Target Media) is that they benefit from having a national reach, whereas most newspapers have only a metropolitan or regional reach in their direct mail programs. Thus, if a company wants to target specific Hispanic markets around the country, then they will either have to deal with multiple newspapers or choose a broad-based direct mailing company with national reach.
However, Ruiz believes that newspaper companies running direct mail programs have some advantages over traditional direct marketing companies. “Newspapers’ total market coverage programs combine newspaper inserts to subscribers, a paid and invited product with shared mail to non-subscribers. ADVO, Harte Hanks have mail only programs, which are 100% unsolicited.”
“This one grocer in particular was pleasantly surprised to see immediate results the first week that he dropped his insert. He had chosen to run the insert in Spanish but since the shared mail package goes to homes of both Spanish and non-Spanish speakers he received a few calls from potential customers asking him to list his items in English too. He took that to mean that the insert was really working,” recalls Ruiz.
“Another customer, Carmona’s, also an independent grocery store, has met with really great success running in Directo Hoy which uses both La Voz and the shared mail vehicle for distribution.”
The San Antonio Express News has launched a direct mail program called “Mexico Express.” The program targets all “A/B” category upscale homes in the Monterrey area: Monterrey (29,800 homes); San Pedro Garza Garcia (21,400 homes); Guadalupe (8800 homes) reaching 60,000 homes in all. The demographics of the targeted households are those who own luxury cars; have a college/professional degree; make a minimum of $50,000 pesos or US $4650 a month; travel outside of Mexico several times a year. Mexico Express CPM rates average $93.00. Advertisers include real estate clients, upscale boutiques, and toy discounters like Toys R Us.
La Voz de Houston, the weekly Spanish-language newspaper (circ. 100,000) published by The Houston Chronicle/Hearst) recently mailed an advertorial piece to 50,000 Hispanic households in two high-density Hispanic zip codes of Houston. Sales Manager for La Voz/La Vibra Craig Hurley, tells Portada® that direct mail pieces targeting Houstons Hispanics tend to have a higher response rate than those directed at Anglo Houstonians.
And the data does seem to support claims that a newspaper/ direct mail program can be a very powerful combination. The 2005 Houston Scarborough Report surveying Houston Hispanics’ showed their preferred methods of being marketed to: Newspaper advertising and direct mail ranked first and third, representing 39% of Houston Hispanics’ overall marketing preference.
Print ad sales companies such as Vertis, Papel Media and Latin-Pak all take advantage of both newspaper buys and direct mail programs. Latin-Pak’s Vince Andoloro says he has noticed growth in solo mail and FSI’s in the past few years, at a rate of 10%-15% annually.
Of course, advertisers often conduct their own direct mail campaigns themselves, without using a newspaper or direct mail company. The Home Depot mailed a Spanishlanguage solo-mail piece in January promoting its Home Depot credit card. The campaign focused on Spanish-dominant households, and creative was developed by Heinrich Hispanidad. Catamount Group provided the direct mail campaign with research/list recommendations. Home Depot has plans to continue similar drops throughout 2006.
What the experts are saying…
According to the Direct marketing Association, the average response rate for direct mail is 2.77%. Hispanic response rates generally tend to be higher, as they receive much less direct mail than the general population. Solo mail response rates depend on the list, creative and offer. Specific industries such as automotive and Real Estate perform better than others. Filters and/or variables (HH Income vs. Nurse list) outperform others, and one offer performs better than five offers. A Customer’s database/House file outperforms a cold list or prospect campaign. Coop/Shared Mail response rates average 3.94%.
According to Jim Buckley of Livonia, MI based direct marketing company Valassis, “Creative messaging notwithstanding, using the right mix of media is critical in winning the Hispanic business for your brand.
The real key that points to the need to include print is the flexibility of the message and the added benefit of including promotional messaging in the form of coupons or other limited and controllable incentives. Tracking their effectiveness and developing ROI models are also benefits that print has over other media.”
The relationship between direct mail companies and newspapers is not as divided and adversarial as it may seem. For example, ADVO Inc. recently collaborated with MediaNews Groups’s LANG newspapers in a joint preprint insert distribution arrangement. The program targets five million households in the densely Hispanic areas of southern California, and will include both “early week” and “late week” programs. Although it is a joint effort, each entity will handle its own sales of the program. The pre-print insert package is being co-branded “Local Community Values™ ShopWise®,” and will include regional retail inserts together with richer content to appeal to Hispanic consumers.
As with most challenges, the best way to achieve the desired results is to employ a mix of strategies. Launching an integrated initiative, including both newspaper advertising and direct mail programs can be just the answer. As the Houston Chronicle’s Loida Ruiz points out, “When we have sold our clients a combined insert into Hispanic neighborhoods together with our shared mail program to non-subscribers, our advertisers have had phenomenal success.”