Friday, September 14, 2007

Direct Mail vs Trees

On a continuum of "stuff I appreciate about the world we live in", a beautiful softwood tree, such as a spruce, pine, fir, or aspen, inhabits the complete opposite end of the spectrum from direct mail, such as real estate fliers, envelopes stuffed full of meaningless coupons, or brochures promoting supplements to my Medicare coverage.

Those ads don't even make it into my house. On occasion, I've been known to clip a pizza coupon or two, but now that I live near HotBox Pizza, I don't even need those. Instead, they go straight into the big, stinky garage trashcan so they can think about what they've done. I suppose that's not fair of me. It isn't the flier's fault that some backhanded marketing professional convinced a naive business person that it was brilliant strategy to send out random postcards or coupons to thousands of people who aren't at all in the market for their product or service. Yet, it is the advertisements who must suffer the consequences by heading off to a landfill or recycling plant for the remainder of their miserable trash-bag-water-soaked lives.

Successful marketing isn't about seeing how many people will immediately throw away messaging from you. It's about cultivating an audience and being relevant to them when, how, and why, you communicate.

More importantly, trees are rad, and those stupid direct mail ads you toss straight into the trash account for the demise of 1.5 trees per year per US household. So, do three things:

1. Think about that poor tree and a half the next time you throw away those ads. Their blood is on your hands. You know, that half tree might be a baby tree--have you no heart?

2. Better yet, just stop getting junk mail by registering here. It's like a Do Not Call List that saves trees, too. It costs a buck. If that's too much, email me and I'll reimburse you.

3. Find your own local pizza shop and support it instead of using that Dominoes coupon. The guy who runs it is probably helping a half dozen delivery drivers buy a new car to impress a girl or even pay for college.

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