Having written a couple of editorials in the past that took the general media to task for publishing slanted, incomplete information about direct marketing, I am happy to give credit to two Denver newspapers for doing some homework on direct mail before developing their editorials in response to a do-not-mail bill introduced in the Colorado state legislature.
Of course, it’s nice to see that both The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post came out on the side of free speech and direct mail. But, really, I’m more pleased to see that their comments were not just knee-jerk reactions. The Denver Post editors researched U.S. Supreme Court law on the subject of free speech and the mail system, while The Rocky Mountain News showed its grasp of postal cost structure and the complexities of maintaining a do-not-mail registry when people move residences so often.
Colorado is not the only state facing a tough decision on whether a do-not-mail registry is a benefit or a detriment to its citizens. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), legislation that would create do-not-mail registries has been introduced in 10 states since the beginning of the year. As this issue of Target Marketing goes to press, two more states are expected to hold hearings to deliberate the need for such a registry. In all likelihood, these bills are more about developing revenue streams for the states than they are about serving the public will.
But don’t underestimate consumers’ growing annoyance with the heaps of unwanted mail in their mailboxes. The creation of the National Do-Not-Call Registry should have emphasized the extent to which consumers are willing to go to protect their privacy. With direct mail, it’s the time, privacy and environmental factors that cause people to evaluate how valuable this contact method is to them. Per usual, it’s not the occasional entreaty that provokes action but the abuse of a channel. When someone gets five credit card mailings a day, it does not take him long to get perturbed at mail in general.