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Dumb Mailing Moves That Hurt the Environment

We all want to talk about big, grand ideas for saving the environment. How about taking small, incremental steps like, say, not mailing big huge, bulky packages to the wrong people?

I was browsing an industry discussion group recently and the the co-owner of an interactive marketing firm — you know, one of those creative, designer types — made the following observation:

The [gatekeeper for the direct mail] in our office is Gail. She takes no more than 10 minutes each day to go through the mail and distribute it to the appropriate department. I am head of marketing and Gail learned a long time ago not to pass on certain items of mail that are addressed to me. Typical items that appear regularly are catalogs for heavy lifting equipment, engineering tools, companies wanting to evaluate our business, heavy computing publications, molded plastic fixtures, motor vehicle leasing and a whole plethora of local promotions asking, for example, “Are you looking for temporary accounting staff?”

How many tons of coated paper are hauled or flown around the country only to be delivered to the absolutely, grossly ridiculously wrong people? It doesn’t take a Harvard education to know that you don’t buy an undifferentiated direct mail list and send everyone on it a 2-lb. catalog. Or send mailers for heavy equipment in a ZIP code dominated by small offices.

If you’re looking to green your business and your marketing staff aren’t doing at least a rough cut on list purchases to screen out grossly inappropriate targets, that’s a great place to start.

The landfill will thank you.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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