Most marketers readily concede it: getting rid of direct mail—or junk mail, as environmentalists and most recipients call it—would save a lot of trees. But they are not about to render bulk mailings obsolete.
“The return on investment is just too high,” said Jeffrey Horton, marketing supervisor for Kawasaki Motors Corp, USA.
So a group of direct-marketing companies, along with a handful of their corporate clients, are banding together to make an inherently unsustainable practice at least a little bit greener.
The group calls itself the Green Marketing Coalition, and it includes Microsoft, Washington Mutual and OptimaHealth. Not all the companies involved are big mailers, but they share the sentiment that there should be best-practices guidelines for the direct mail business, which has been vilified even before global warming became a hot topic.
“This industry just didn’t have any real green standards,” said Spyro Kourtis, president of the Hacker Group, the Seattle company that headed the Green Marketing Coalition. “So we figured we could set some that vendors and clients and others could all live with.”
So far, the coalition’s guidelines are long on earnestness and short on truly new ideas. They include using chlorine-free recycled paper, proofreading marketing materials using Adobe PDF files rather than hard copies and taking advantages of tax benefits that come from certain green initiatives.
The guidelines suggest adhering to higher waste disposal standards and choosing vendors that are committed to recycling. There is also support for “list hygiene”—that is, cleaning out direct-mail lists to remove the names of dead people and others unlikely to respond. “Just by improving list hygiene and data management, companies can target better and drastically cut down on advertising waste,” the coalition advises.
The US Postal Service is on the case, too. It has taken out a trademark on the term “environMAIList” to refer to those marketers that adopt greener mail practices and try to make direct marketing more eco-friendly.
6 months ago