An independent network with a history of religious ministry-based programming, INSP more recently is vying against other general-entertainment channels with primetime reruns of Bonanza and Matlock while adding original shows such as Handcrafted America and The Cowboy Way: Alabama. Part of its pitch to multichannel providers as “one of the best bargains in cable” comes from arranging supportive local events, sending out direct mail and doing other marketing tasks for affiliates. Christine Rodocker, VP of distribution and consumer marketing for the network and its in-house studio, has been providing that support since coming on board in late 2010, after stints at Discovery Communications and MTV Networks. She spoke about the importance of those efforts with B&C editor Kent Gibbons. Here are edited highlights of that Q&A.
How important is consumer marketing to affiliates these days?
I believe it’s still important and I’m going to guess our clients do, because they ask for our help. Whether it’s a launch commitment, and we want to make sure the local community knows we’re there, or if it’s a market we’ve been in for years and it just so happens that our audience would be nice for trying to help drive something [the affiliate is] trying to achieve. I don’t believe in launching and leaving. If you’ve made a commitment to carry us, we’re going to be there for you when you need us.
What impactful campaigns come to mind?
We had a client come to us for help with their direct sales, which is something that really we don’t do, it just is not in our wheelhouse. We brainstormed some ideas and what we landed on was [doing] a deal with Papa John’s. Essentially the message was: Give us 10 minutes and you get a free pizza. On the redemption coupon code, we were able to promote INSP and also have a copy of what [the client’s] offer was. As a nice leave-behind, our client had set a goal of 5% engagement and we delivered 9%.
Do you see an uptick in viewing in markets where you are doing campaigns?
We have. We often hear from our clients that they were so happy with the event, what could they do to help support us in return? Sometimes we get a cross-channel [spot] or inclusion on their website or inclusion in direct mail, whatever they’re doing. They often help support us, which you know we weren’t asking for. I think it speaks again to our relationships with our clients.
INSP is positioned as a family network now after historically being a faith-based or religious channel. Do your events help with updating that perception?
Yes, when you have a network that’s been around for 20-plus years under a certain name, it’s hard to get people to start thinking of you differently. Definitely these events help us in the consumer space. But I think it’s also important to get in front of our clients and remind them. We do that with our mailers and promotions.
Do you travel with a small team or do you use local marketing firms for events?
We use our staff for creative, events and for our mailers. Everything is done out of INSP. We’re the little network that can. We don’t do any local events without having our folks there because we think it’s important to be great brand ambassadors. Once we get out with the public and we start talking about who we are, then we get these great folks that we can convert over and get them to start watching.