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Do-Not-Call List -- Direct Mail Boom

October 2003
By Caroline Miller

Associate Editor

Direct mail printing may be on the verge of a renaissance, thanks in part to the new national "do-not-call list." The result could prove to be a cash cow for many direct marketing printers.

"The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) do-not-call registry presents an interesting challenge for marketers," says Tim Stratman, president of RR Donnelley Direct in Chicago. "In the short term, we anticipate that marketers will reevaluate their marketing mix and will rely on other communication vehicles, most likely direct mail."

Under the new law, telemarketers who call a listed household can be fined up to $11,000 for each violation. Consumers can file complaints to an automated phone or online system. There are some calls that are exempt from the list. Telemarketing calls for charities, pollsters and on behalf of politicians are still acceptable.

Registered consumers can also give written permission to get calls from certain companies. A company may also call someone on the do-not-call list if that person has bought, leased or rented from the company within the past 18 months. Direct marketers may also call people if they have inquired or applied for something during the past three months.

No More Cold Calls

For most direct marketers, the aspect of their business most impacted by the new law is the cold call. "Consumers do not mind calls from businesses that they have an existing relationship, which is still permissible under the new law," notes Tom Wicka, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Instant Web Companies in Chanhassen, MN.

For these and other reasons, printers may see an explosion in need for their ink-on-paper services. "Direct mail is the least intrusive form of marketing out there," Wicka asserts. "If you ask people if they like receiving junk mail, they say no. But if you ask them if they like getting targeted information designed specifically for them, then they are far more likely to say yes."

As a result, direct marketers are taking a look at how direct mail can be used to contact new consumers in a less intrusive manner, while still remaining within the bounds of the law.

And not only are marketers looking to comply with the law, but the new regulations require telemarketers to purchase the national do-not-call list annually from the FCC. The annual cost for organizations to access phone numbers in the registry will be $25 per area code, with a maximum annual fee of $7,375 to access numbers for the entire country.
 

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