Nick is the CEO of PFL, where he helps bring the power of Hybrid Experience to companies across the globe.
“I don’t want to waste my marketing dollars by filling up landfills.”
As I finished my presentation on orchestrated direct mail and asked the audience for questions or comments, this wasn’t the comment that I was expecting from a room of marketers. But the brave statement was a clear signal that marketers (and our customers) are tired of sending and throwing away cheap knickknacks and marketing material that misses the mark.
Garbage goes into the landfill. Physical marketing labeled as “junk” mail is often a result of poorly conceived and poorly executed marketing campaigns. However, I don't think we should trash an entire channel simply because some marketers are sending garbage.
Offline marketing is an incredibly powerful channel. To make an impact without sacrificing sustainability, marketers must shift their thinking from “What are we sending?” to “What moment are we trying to create?”
Sustainability is something that we have always valued at PFL. Our facility is powered by renewable energy, and in addition to using sustainably sourced and fully recyclable paper, we have partnered to plant one tree in a global area in need of reforestation for every tree consumed by our customer’s use of paper and corrugated products.
To help others achieve their sustainability and sending goals, here are five strategies for sustainable offline marketing.
1. Understand the power of moments.
Offline marketing works. Your brand can stand out simply by using a channel that is unavoidable. Physical mail can’t be ignored as easily as digital methods, but that doesn't mean your marketing team should just start sending something to everyone. A big part of being sustainable is reducing waste, so slow your send. Go for quality over quantity. Create a moment that is meaningful and useful. Sending fewer gifts and calling when they are delivered will create orchestrated moments that are powerful. The best part is that thoughtfulness doesn’t cost anything extra.
2. Deliver value.
Make your value proposition obvious to your customer within the first few seconds of viewing your delivery. Marketers must deliver immediate and obvious value to the recipient. Customers care about themselves, so share market intelligence, relevant how-to guides or other valuable resources to keep your delivery on the desk and out of the garbage.
3. Focus on premium products.
If promotional products are part of your strategy, choose a higher-value product that will be used by your customer rather than sending cheap products to more people. This is another quality-over-quantity play. By maximizing the value of the product being sent, marketers can build stronger relationships with customers, elevate their brand in the eyes of the customer and create an experience that is likely to be treasured rather than trashed.
4. Target the right people.
Leverage customer data for the benefit of your customer—and your budget. Instead of sending the same generic thing to everyone, target customers who are clearly interested in your product or service. Did a prospect just complete a demo? Follow up with relevant content based on what your sales team learned in the conversation. Providing a product roadmap or a guide explaining how they can gain budget for the product you’re selling will be valuable. Your attention to detail can be rewarded by keeping the prospect engaged and moving through the sales pipeline.
5. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
In addition to making your sending more targeted to reduce waste, focus on delivering reusable and recyclable products for direct mail programs. Use paper and corrugated cardboard that is fully recyclable, but remember that this is just the beginning. Sending content and information on sustainably sourced paper is a great way to deliver value to your customer and lower the overall carbon footprint of your direct mail campaigns. Some of the benefits of paper are that it can come from fully recycled materials and it often weighs less than promotional products. It can also be folded and molded into some remarkable designs and recycled again.
If your team must send promotional products, consider items like reusable water bottles, lunch boxes, quality backpacks and sustainably grown products. Spending a little more on quality items produced by companies that share your sustainability values will mean your gifts have a higher likelihood of being used or regifted to someone in need.
Green: It's not just a color. It's an action.
Reusing, recycling and reducing our dependence on non-renewable reserves is the best action we can take to help maintain our environment’s precious resources. Yet, tight budgets, changing trends, continuing supply-chain troubles, a dicey economic climate and the ever-growing public consciousness of the environmental impact of physical/direct mail are all constant challenges for today’s marketers.
So, to those who don't want to waste money filling up landfills with junk mail, I say: Then don’t! There are better ways to make direct mail an integral part of your marketing mix. Modern direct mail, when done thoughtfully, can be sustainable, valuable and effective.