Beware a direct mail ban, congress told

Heavy-handed restriction of direct mail on environmental grounds could actually lead to an increase in printed material going through people's doors, according to Stephen Pidgeon, chairman of marketing agency Target Direct.

He told an audience at the International Fundraising Congress in Amsterdam that green issues were important but a targeted approach was needed.

“MPs will jump on the bandwagon, saying we must dump direct mail because it is bad for the environment, but this is the wrong approach,” he said.

A ban would lead to door-dropping of unaddressed mail, he said, adding that this was a widespread problem in Germany, where marketers don’t buy, sell or use mailing data lists.

Pidgeon said the emphasis should be on marketers concentrating on reducing unnecessary mail by being more targeted in their approach and sending material only to those likely to respond.

“Marketers will have to be much smarter about how they capture and use data,” he said. “You can go into a British Heart Foundation shop, pick up a lotto card and scratch it to win a prize.

“Why don’t they say ‘everyone who plays will win a paper prize’, maybe a calendar? People can send off for the free prize and the BHF will end up with the names and addresses of people likely to buy prize draw tickets and maybe donate.”

Pidgeon said charity shops should also capture names and addresses of people who donate goods. “People who bring goods in could also leave legacies,” he said. “A lady clears out her late husband’s wardrobe, the charity treats her like royalty, keeps in regular contact and she leaves them a legacy.”

He also urged marketers to use more recycled paper. “The carbon footprint of virgin paper is 50 per cent more than that of recycled paper,” he said.

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