Diane MacEachern has recently written a how-to post for North Americans to decrease the amount of junk mail turning up in their letterbox. I also suffer from that problem, except I live on 5 acres and rolled up collections of inked ads are thrown into the long grass at the front of our property every week. I never take the rubber band off, I never look at the messages, I collect them after I’ve mowed and dispose of them.
When we consider the lifecycle of a product, we have to look at the entire life: for a direct mail piece let’s consider growth and harvest of trees; transport of trees to make paper; transport to printer; use of inks, water and energy for printing, distribution to homes, distribution to tip. That’s a simplistic view of course, but now overlay the real purpose of the project – a sale. CMO Council lists a whole page of varying facts about direct mail, including this one, “Direct mail — yes junk mail via snail mail — still reigns supreme, offering response rates of 1.1 to 1.4% versus 0.03% for email, 0.04% for Internet display ads…”
Diane offers some good ideas for the consumer to restrict the mail arriving, but given that “44% of direct mail is never opened” (CMO Council again), and has such low take-up rates of “1.1 t0 1.4%”, I really believe that direct mail has to be carefully considered as a means of promotion in a world where resources are precious and finite. As a graphic designer, I can be part of the solution.