When it comes to direct marketing, green is the new black. Or something like that.
Even in a belt-tightening market like this one, being green matters. And if you think price alone will bring your profit margin back into the black, think again. It’s time to take a closer look at the other green on everyone’s mind.
Being eco friendly means more than paying lip service to recycling. It means taking tangible steps to minimize your environmental impact in the mail. The truth is that although customers are still buying, they’re shopping smarter than ever. They know who’s green and who isn’t. Guess who’s getting the business?
It may not be easy, but being green isn’t as hard as it seems. Here are five ways you can go green while staying in the black:
1. Choose certified paper. Third-party certifications such as the Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Pan European Forest Council let customers know your mailing was made with wood pulp from healthy, well-managed forests.
2. Use “green” ink. Ask your printer if they use renewable resource-based inks such as those made from a blend of various vegetable oils. You’d be surprised how many new inks are available that look great too. There’s even a printer who will plant a tree on your behalf for every job printed bearing the Green ink® logo.
3. Update your mailing lists. About 41 million people changed addresses last year, yet 33% of those people never reported their new address to the U.S. Postal Service. Talk about letting sales get away! Find a list service that can eliminate wasted mailings and the associated energy, paper, ink and fuel costs. If you are a member of the Direct Marketing Association, there are several good white papers available on this subject. Not exactly poolside reading, but a must-see for anyone who’s serious about DM.
4. Co-mail. Lower fuel consumption and emissions—and your postage bill—by co-mailing. This cost-saving strategy combines two or more magazine or catalog titles into a single mail stream. Quad Graphics, one of the largest privately held printers in the world, has a lot of good information on co-mailing.
5. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Reduce the high cost of unwanted mailings by subscribing to the DMA’s Mail Preference service, which suppresses the names of consumers who have specifically asked that they not receive direct mail. And by all means, use the “Recycle Please” logo on everything you send. This logo reminds consumers to recycle valuable (and reusable) paper products, thereby reducing both landfill waste and greenhouse gasses.
The bottom line? Flaunt shamelessly. Tell your customers when you use green ink, certified paper, even recyclable packing materials. Tell them about your efforts to reduce waste and recycle valuable resources. Reinforce these messages on all customer touch points, especially on the Web. The greener your customers know you are, the more you can hope to win over hard-earned dollars in 2009.
Mark Swedlund is senior vice president of Haggin Marketing.