Sustainable Direct Marketing. Does it Actually Exist?

Yes. Sustainable direct marketing exists. From reducing paper waste to leaner manufacturing processes, there are a number of ways that companies can achieve sustainability in their direct marketing campaigns; which is great news for both your business and the environment.

Are we on the same page?
There are different ways of looking at sustainable marketing. This blog will consider the ways that print marketing can be more environmentally friendly, but not the methods behind developing sustainable marketing campaigns that focus on the end business goals. Who knows, maybe we will write about that in the future…

Now that we are on the same page, let’s dive in and find out how you can make your next direct marketing campaign more sustainable.

Think outside the box
An important aspect of any direct marketing campaign is making sure that it stands out from the competition. What better way of doing this (whilst also showing that you think about environmental issues) than going down the recycled route?

However, do bear in mind that recycling, although an obvious choice here, is a very chemically intensive process and this can sometimes outweigh the benefits. Using papers from sustainable forests could be a much more sustainable option to consider.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) have some excellent resources on their website that we encourage you to check out.

Does your print supplier think of their carbon footprint?
Before deciding which print supplier to use don’t be afraid to ask about how they reduce their carbon footprint. Here at Birch we take very seriously the impact we have on our environment.

We have gone to great lengths to reduce our carbon footprint by installing a Biomass boiler, giving a reduction of 47.6 tonnes of Co2 emissions per annum. Alongside that, our LED lighting gives an annual reduction of 18.5 tonnes of Co2 emissions.

How about their environmental policy?
In addition to their carbon footprint, also examine the print supplier’s environmental policy. Where do they get their paper from? Do they give you options to use FSC or PEFC papers and boards?

Be aware of the logos and what they stand for:

Do they use paper from sustainable forests? Do they recycle their paper? These are all very important questions that should be answered.

Communication, communication, communication
Design and production teams need to work closely with the print supplier to make sure there is optimal use of space. For example, instead of using A4 is there a way that you can be a little more creative and get your message across on A5? Is there any wasted space that can be utilised better? Can multiple elements be included on one sheet?

Rather than getting material printed separately, is there an opportunity to use one press sheet or roll, whilst also ensuring that no space is wasted? Don’t be afraid to ask your print supplier for any recommendations as they may have some other tricks up their sleeve of how they can help reduce paper waste.

Try to keep to deadlines
Deadlines are always hard to keep to, especially with print marketing designs. However, when design files arrive late print suppliers are often forced to use less efficient machines or sheet sizes to ensure they meet the deadline.

When deciding on the deadlines for yourself and print suppliers don’t be afraid to give yourself extra time. You never know what will crop up during a project e.g. one of the designers in your team could take an unexpected day or two off, or the person managing the project phones in sick on the approval deadline day. You just don’t know!

Cleanse that database!
Before sending your print campaign make sure you cleanse that database! Take out any old entries that aren’t relevant anymore and make sure addresses are correct through an address hygiene process. This will help reduce the amount of post that is undeliverable, paper wastage, and overall printing and postage costs. Really, this is a win, win situation! Here at Birch we offer a FOC Data Health Check, highlighting any incorrect address entries, deceased, gone aways etc.

Managing inventory
Is there any old and ageing inventory that can be re-used? Rather than allowing it to sit there collecting dust, put it to good use!

In addition to this, some suppliers will offer a total package to help with paper wastage whereby they recycle make-ready rolls between press, personalisation and bindery.

To conclude
Today, all businesses should be taking their approach to sustainability seriously. Consumers need evidence of how you are, or are planning to be, ‘green’.

No matter how small the changes in your process, each change can go a long way in making your future campaigns, and therefore your company, more sustainable and eco-friendly.

All companies should be looking at ways they can improve their environmental impact, starting from the design stage and going right through to delivery.

We hope we’ve got you thinking…

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