Cover Story: Green Mission
Waste Not, Want Not
Greener marketing and production actually begins with data. Here, companies are well-advised to remember the first of the green movement's three "R's": reduce.
According to Laurie Mellon, Consumers Union's associate director of direct mail, the more accurate an organization's data, the fewer unwanted items it puts into the mailstream. This, in turn, conserves vital natural resources not to mention marketing dollars.
Consumers Union reduces its mailstream waste by being more stringent on list cleaning and matching, Mellon says. The organization uses advanced household merge/purge technology and applies the latest address hygiene processes to identify and suppress duplicate records. This ensures that it only sends one mail piece to an address. In addition, it continuously evaluates new processes to improve list deliverability.
A Big Payoff for Thinking Small
Brophy says another strategy Consumers Union employs to reduce its environmental impact is "source reduction," or using less material in the first place.
The organization's creative rotation includes a variety of mail pieces from simple voucher packages to eight- or 12-page magalogs. Rising postal costs have already prompted Consumers Union to reduce the size of some formats. "Marketing has moved some bigger flat-size packages to letter-size packages," explains Mellon.
Roseanne Ippoliti, Consumers Union's director of acquisition marketing and branding, says other source reduction techniques include decreasing page counts and printing on lighter-weight paper. "We're always looking at what we can do to get the same impact by using [less]," she says.
Perhaps the biggest challenge Consumers Union has faced as part of its green efforts-and the one with the biggest payoff-was moving the organization's larger self-mailers onto lighter-weight text stock.
"We had to test into it for a year or so to gauge that it was working-that response held-before marketing would say that all versions going forward could go out on the lighter-weight paper from the get-go," explains Brophy. "It ... had to be carefully coordinated over a number of campaigns dropping in different seasons for multiple product lines."