Live From the ACMA Forum: Postmaster Potter: Get in the Green Game

Washington—Catalog mailers have not been vocal enough about the environmental impact of the industry, Postmaster General John E. Potter told several catalogers at Friday’s National Catalog Advocacy & Strategy.

Rather than speak up about catalogs and the environment, most mailers opt to sit back and play defense. And that’s a mistake, Potter said. “We have a renewable resource. Tell your story. The initial mindset is ‘let’s play defense’. Part of the game is to get in the game.”

Due to last year’s devastating postal rate increase, many catalogers have since reduced paper weight and trim size, which in turn helped preserve the environment. Potter said. “We don’t talk enough about it,” Potter said. “It’s an opportunity to message lost.”

He suggested catalogers place messages on catalogs, saying, “Please recycle” or “This paper contains recycled content.”

The catalog industry has been forced to deal with some hard challenges in recent years, Potter said. “Quite frankly, you got hammered,” he said, referring to last year’s postal rate hike, plus the paper and fuel increases.

“Catalogs are extremely important to the U.S. Postal Service,” Potter said. “People use the tools you provide them to conduct commerce. That, in turn, generates bills which we deliver.”

Potter spoke for nearly an hour at the forum, which was sponsored by the American Catalog Mailers Association. “The best advertising medium is the mail,” he said. “And you have 2 billion opportunities a year.”

Regarding customers’ mail preferences amid opt-out opportunities, Potter advised catalogers to look within. “The best thing you can do is manage the relationships you have with your customers,” he said. “Individual companies will attract customers based on how they manage.”

Potter also applauded the efforts of ACMA. “I love your energy,” he said. “I want you to be aggressive with us. Stay involved and figure out what your message is as it relates to the economy, the environment, and the mailing industry.”

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