The direct mail marketing industry currently provides a way for consumers who do not want to receive advertising mail to register their preference. Since 1971 the DMA has offered an opt-out preference system for catalog and other advertising on its Web site (www.dmachoice.org). The consumer credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Transunion provide a registry for credit and insurance mail offers at www.optoutprescreen.com. DirectMail.com also offers a registry at its Web site (www.directmail.com).
Why Printers Should Care
The decreasing use of advertising mail because of the economy and e-marketing options, as well as the threat to advertising mail represented by the Do Not Mail movement, should be of concern to all printers—even those who are not mailers—because advertising and marketing image pieces are an important part of any printer's business mix. Even if you are personally sympathetic to the goals of the Do Not Mail movement, consider these reasons to support advertising mail:
- Benefits small and local businesses. Direct mail advertising is an important tool for small and local businesses to reach potential customers. Unlike radio or television advertising, billboards and telemarketing, direct mail marketing is within the budgetary reach of small business.
- Not intrusive. Unlike spam or telemarketing, a direct mail piece doesn't intrude on or interrupt the recipient from other activities.
- Targeted. Direct mail advertising is best for marketing in small geographic areas—often a goal of small and local businesses.
What Printers Can Do
One way to help preserve and encourage advertising mail is to be informed and responsible. Sometimes advocacy groups such as those involved in the Do Not Mail initiative dramatize the facts or present them in a biased context. Be prepared with an alternate explanation or counter argument to reassure your customers that advertising mail is not harmful. Visit www.mailmovesamerica.org for more information.
Keep mail that is undeliverable as addressed out of the mail stream.
Make sure that all mailings comply with USPS move update requirements and educate your customers on the benefits of updating a mail list with NCOA return information.
Refine the target audience and focus content on it. Rather than sending generalized mailings to a broad audience, break the target audience into segments and craft a specific message for each segment.
Use direct mail advertising in your own business so you know its effectiveness and limitations. Enable yourself to speak from experience to advocate for direct mail marketing.
Nancy DeDiemar is the president of Printing Resources of Southern California, a quick print shop in Upland, Calif., offering printing, copying, electronic prepress, and mailing services. She is the co-publisher of Printips (www.printips.com), a newsletter subscription service for printers. Contact her at email@example.com. This article is available as a podcast at www.quickprinting.com/podcast and from iTunes.