Greening a Direct Mail Campaign

At first glance, the concepts, green marketing and direct mail marketing do not seem to go together. Direct mail conjures images of piles of unwanted and unsolicited mail filling up the local landfill – a direct contradiction to using green marketing tactics that seek to minimize impact on the environment.

Green direct mail doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. With the right planning, materials and people, you can run a campaign with minimal impact on the environment.

Here are a few simple ways to green your direct mail campaign:

  1. Be strategic. Make sure you have a specific goal in mind before you even start your direct mail campaign, Is the mailing strictly to raise visibility, or is it designed to bring in business by offering coupons or other incentives? Answering these questions before you even start will help in the design of the marketing plan and the final piece.
  2. Be targeted. Keep a record of what marketing tactics work for you. With careful analysis, you can reduce excess by specifically targeting your mailings. Review your mailing list thoroughly and print only what you absolutely need.
  3. Use recycled and recyclable paper. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Not all types of packaging material, particularly waxed or plastic-laminated paper, can be recycled. Check with your local recycling center to see if there are any restrictions on the types of paper they can recycle and plan accordingly.
  4. Use environmentally friendly inks. Ask your printer for eco-friendly inks made from vegetable or soy oil instead of mineral and petroleum based inks. Eco-friendly inks are biodegradable and reduce the chemical impact on groundwater.
  5. Go union. Using a union printer or mail house ensures that the people putting your mailing together are paid a reasonable wage, work in humane conditions and are eligible for some benefits.
  6. Bigger is not always better. Americans use over 680 pounds of paper each year, with a third of that coming from packaging materials. Think about ways you can reduce the physical size of your mailing. Sometimes all you need is a postcard: for year-end or other reports, mail a postcard with a link to your website where people can download the full report, or send a save-the-date postcard explaining how people can register, instead of a full event invitation.

Direct mail doesn’t have to be evil. With careful planning, a little research and the right materials, there are things you can do to minimize the impact on the environment (and maybe even your bottom line).

Image Credits: Epsos, James Wang

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Green Marketing TV

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