On Jan. 31, the Commerce Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted by 14-1 to kill a bill that would have established a statewide do-not-mail registry. The committee recommendation, in effect, ended the bill’s career. The only committee who voted for it was the legislator who originally filed it.
The filer of the bill, Rep. Susi Nord, said she introduced it on behalf of those who consider unsolicited mail intrusive. Direct marketers find this notion mystifying. Unsolicited mail is certainly less intrusive than the advertising messages in commercial publishing, television, radio, and web publishing.
The U.S. Postal Service delivers mail six days a week to 146 million locations. It wouldn’t be able to do that without the revenue provided by direct mail, which equals one third of the money the USPS takes in. It supports the mail stream in the same way it supports so many other forms of entertainment, education, and communication.
This is one of the messages that the Mail Moves America coalition of 25 associations and 25 companies is bringing to legislatures across the country.
Make yourself well informed on this issue. We were fortunate in New Hampshire, but according to Mail Moves America, legislation has been introduced in 15 other states that would create state-run Do Not Mail registries.
We all need to be spokespeople for advertising mail. It’s up to us, in the direct marketing community, to improve the reputation of our industry and to continue communicating the many positive aspects of direct mail.
But the average American adult receives 41 pounds of mail advertising each year. That’s a difficult image to overcome. People carry the stuff from their mailboxes to the trash, where much of it ends up, nearly every day. They worry about the environmental impact, and that’s a legitimate concern.
To that end, following are steps direct marketers can take today to improve their businesses and their perception with customers. This will not only help your bottom line, but will also help the overall reputation of the industry:
- Be mindful with your client’s campaigns —don’t over-reach/over saturate markets if it’s not necessary.
- Be thoughtful with your creative—always essential with any campaign, but now more than ever, targeted messages not only garner better response, they ensure consumer respect that your company isn’t soliciting every household in America. This creates trust and, hopefully, begins a beneficial customer relationship.
- Be responsible—recycle whenever possible. As greening is becoming more and more popular in today’s environment be sure you are using socially responsible materials when creating your next campaign. For more information, visit http://www.the-dma.org/Green15Toolkit/.
- Give customers a choice—the Direct Marketing Association recommends that campaigns be designed with a commitment to consumer choice. Implementing this in your next campaign will empower consumers, and build their trust.
- Get involved and become informed—reach out to your providers and see what they are doing to help prevent this type of legislation. As the Do Not Call laws drastically affected the telemarketing industry, Do Not Mail legislation could have the same impact on the direct marketing industry.
Craig Blake is a vice president at W.A. Wilde Company in Holliston, MA and president of the New England Direct Marketing Association.