In an ideal direct marketing world, all actions and initiatives that are taken on behalf of the environment by an organization are not only genuine and effective, but also recognized by prospects and customers. Of course, in an ideal world, there wouldn't have been such environmental degradation wrought by modern society and business in the first place and, thus, such a dire need for these corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives today.
Fortunately, the movement among business toward greener practices continues, and the marketing of those green practices will become more successful if these organizations ask the following questions about their marketing plans.
1. Do green practices encourage prospect participation?
While some green practices occur behind the scenes and remain there, others are marketed up front—such as the "green seals of approval" like FSC- or SFI-certified, "made with 100% wind-power," "printed with soy ink," "RecyclePlease" and, just recently, even a "Good Housekeeping Green."
"We do several green/alternative energy programs, and these seals often work well for the more environmentally active segments," states Grant Johnson, founder and CEO of Johnson Direct. "Typically, it does not decrease response rates to list them, so if a company is really moving to be more green, then use is recommended." He cautions marketers to first test to determine how results may improve with these seals/marks.
Meta Brophy, director of publishing operations for Consumers Union, which produces Consumer Reports magazine, says Consumer Reports hasn't tested these seals of approval, so she can't say whether or not they have a positive impact when used in its direct mail campaigns. But in B-to-B application, she claims they can be quite helpful. "These labels signal to us supplier participation in certain initiatives. It's useful information and many times prompts us to follow up. In that way, the seals do encourage participation," she explains.
Meanwhile, she's sanguine about some of the USPS' popular environmental initiatives. "Labeling control packages with the RecyclePlease.org logo encourages prospects to recycle what they receive from us and even to learn more about recycling on the site. The Commitment to Consumer Choice will encourage prospects to manage their accounts and express their preferences ... and will reduce unwanted mail, among other things," she says.
Among Johnson's clients, he mentions that some are asking for opt-ins to mailings, some are surveying customers/prospects to see what they would prefer as far as channel and frequency, and others actually are calling prior to mailing.