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Direct Mail : Send Green, Save Green

10 things direct mailers can do to help the planet and their bottom lines

April 2012 By Debora Haskel
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Direct marketers have become increasingly savvy about the positive impact environmental policies have on their brands, in addition to the policies' main intent of improving sustainability and lessening environmental impact. But challenging your design, production and printing partners to help meet sustainability goals also can have a positive impact on your bottom line. Here are 10 tips that will make your direct mail efforts more "green," and save money.

1. Keep What Works, Cut What Doesn't
Zero in on what elements of your mailing package really provide value. Remove what isn't necessary and reduce when possible. For example, can your brochure be two pages instead of four?

When was the last time you tested your buckslip to see its impact on response and conversion? A robust testing strategy is the key to understanding the "sacred cows" in your mailing while culling what doesn't result in higher response and more sales.

Slimming your direct mail package usually means lower production costs. You may experience lower postage costs as well, especially if you reduce your package from flat to letter-sized mail.

2. Reconsider Substrates
Including a plastic or paper promotional card in a direct mail package has been shown to increase open and response rates. If you include a credit-card sized magnet, people actually keep and use them, too! The feel of the card in the package is irresistible to most people and the envelope gets opened to see what kind of card is included (Is it a gift card? A loyalty card? A credit card?).

Recyclable and even biodegradable plastic and paper substrates that are more environmentally sound are now available. Be sure you understand how they can be used and how you can promote their use.

3. Reduce, Reuse
Look for ways to reduce basis weight, trim size, number of components and even sample requests. Employ lean manufacturing principles and review your processes to see where you can eliminate waste.

It's easy to keep requesting the same number of samples for every campaign, but if they just get filed (in a "circular file" or file cabinet), can you eliminate or dramatically reduce the number of physical samples you receive?

Keep a close eye on inventory, such as envelopes, and use existing inventory whenever possible. Design these components so they don't expire. For example, make offer expiration dates part of your variable data, not pre-printed, on forms or envelopes so they can be reused with different variable data at a later date. Reuse packing materials until they no longer serve their purpose.


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