Is direct marketing getting greener? As of this September, the answer will be affirmative. At this time, the new Code of Practice from the UK Direct Marketing Association will begin guiding association members to a new and more ecologically friendly way of doing business.
If your business has avoided certain types of direct marketing because of their perceived environmental impact, then you may be able to try entire new types of marketing. The new code is long, but it comes down to a few points. First, marketers claiming to be green must be able to substantiate this, and the marketing process must be green from beginning to end, including the manufacture and disposal of materials. This means that green marketers will have increased opportunities to set themselves apart from the competition, while companies looking for green marketers will have an easier time sifting through the chaff.
Further, all printed marketing materials will be required to have a message encouraging recipients to recycle them. Last, companies in the association must have a documented environmental policy to guide their operations. These changes may seem slight, but they represent a change of perspective for many direct marketers, from a focus exclusively on cost effectiveness. This may mean the beginning of a change in the way that companies in the UK market themselves.
The new code is not a recent shift in attitude, but the result of three years of labour within the association. Direct marketing has long been seen as a less green strategy, one that is moving out of style along with fossil fuels and child labour. However, the new guidelines may give the industry a new breath of life while increasing the number of companies who feel good about using these methods.
What does this mean for branding? More and more, ‘green’ is not a niche market but a legal mandate. Further, many customers are reluctant to deal with brands that they perceive as being less ecologically sensitive. Ignoring the green revolution may be disastrous for a brand.
If you are looking for a way to make your brand a little greener, there are several ways to do this. Here are just a few:
* Make your own environmental policy and prominently display it at all locations.
* Make sure customers know that yours is a responsible brand in all ways.
* If social or environmental responsibility is a key part of your company operations, consult a logo design specialist to see how your logo and other visual aspects can indicate this.
* Use marketing methods that are consistent with your environmental claims.
* Talk to a branding consultant about how your green aspirations can become an attractive part of your overall company brand.
* Beware of “greenwashing”—only claim to be as green as you truly are.
Are you as green as you can be? If not, it’s time to take steps toward positive change. Becoming greener is in many cases the only way to stay relevant in a market where consumers demand responsibility from the companies that they patronize.