The DMA’s John A. Greco Jr. on the ‘Greenprint’ for DM Success
Environmental responsibility is no longer confined to only personal philosophies and social positions. Increasingly, the term now applies to economic and business survival, let alone success, in the direct marketing world. For mailers, the green transition perhaps is even more important to overcome the negative “junk mail” reputation and appease prospects who want to see more targeted and environmental practices.
While there finally is more of a will among mailers to go green, however, it’s less clear about how exactly to do it. Fortunately, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is here to show the way. I spoke with DMA President and CEO John A. Greco Jr. about the association’s recent environmental and social responsibility initiative.
EB: How does the DMA deal with going green being viewed as such a complex transition by many marketers?
JG: DMA has assumed a leadership role and is doing a tremendous amount of work to educate its members and simplify, as much as possible, the “going green” concept. [For example], we became aware that only 30 percent of catalogs and direct mail are being recycled; so in order to address this issue, we launched a nationwide consumer education “Recycle Please” campaign.
EB: What kind of feedback have you gotten from marketers since the DMA announced its environmental and social responsibility initiative in May?
JG: The feedback we’ve received from members has been very positive, and we’ve gotten many compliments on the tools we’re creating. Companies that have had well-established environmental programs in place … can use our tools to develop new strategies to improve and beef up their current policies. Those companies that are new to the issues have been thankful for all the information and resources we’ve provided.
EB: On top of the recent initiative, what other environmental resources are available to marketers from the DMA?
JG: DMA has created an Environmental Resource Center (www.the-dma.org/environment ) with the blueprint, or “greenprint,” for making continual environmental improvement as direct marketers. This Resource Center contains a wealth of information, including the third edition of the DMA’s “Environmental Resource Guide for Direct Marketers,” the new Environmental Planning Tool & Optional Policy Generator, the board’s Environmental Resolution (or Green 15), and numerous fact sheets and checklists on topics from climate change to sourcing recycled paper.
To further assist our members, we’re in the process of creating an Environmental Toolkit that will contain a variety of useful tools, including an Environmental Affidavit detailing planet-friendly questions marketers can ask their suppliers when purchasing paper, as well as suggested ways in which members can assess internal environmental improvement goals and benchmark progress.
EB: After evaluating more than 100 environmental practices, how difficult was it to arrive at the 15 specific practices within these key areas?
JG: Because DMA represents so many different vertical and horizontal sectors, so many different sizes of businesses, so many different interests (users and suppliers), selecting the Green 15 was a labor-intensive process. It entailed analyzing the entire generator with our experts on the Committee on Environment & Social Responsibility and holding an Environmental Forum in April 2007 with the top DMA mailers and paper suppliers to get opinions and suggestions. We then re-evaluated the action items to develop industry-specific baseline practices based on the feedback we received at the Forum.
EB: How will the DMA get members to establish the internal measurements to benchmark their progress in the five key areas (list hygiene and data management; mail design and production; paper procurement and use; packaging; and recycling and pollution reduction)?
JG: We are a lead-by-example community/industry. Top marketers have already established, or are in the process of establishing, internal measurements to benchmark their progress in the five key areas. As these top marketers benchmark and report on their eco-friendly business/marketing platforms, other marketers will pay attention and follow suit to keep their competitive advantage and to reap the benefits of the triple bottom line. DMA will, of course, continue to play a role in educating members on the fact that environmental awareness, profitability and meeting customer needs can complement each other and bolster brand image. We are committed to developing and issuing best practices/case studies, and providing the tools and resources that our members need to get the job done.
[This interview originally was published in the November 2007 issue of Inside Direct Mail, a sister publication to Target Marketing magazine. To learn more about Inside Direct Mail, visit www.insidedirectmail.com ]