WOA Offset and Beyond — Challenges, Opportunities
The impact of postal reform has been very positive; the recently announced price adjustment averages 2.9 percent and marketers seem to have planned for it when they prepared their 2008 budgets. While no one is being extravagant in their spending, we are seeing a number of opportunities for new programs that use direct mail for customer retention.
PI: With postal reform at last a reality, what are now the greatest challenges confronting direct mail printers?
ANDERSEN: Direct mail printers are facing potential legislative threats that could present major challenges for printers and marketers alike. Legislation that addresses privacy, do not mail, and data use restriction is being developed in response to data breeches and concerns about identity theft.
In addition, direct mail printers must recognize the increasing focus on environmental issues. A recent study by DM News and Pitney Bowes shows that 48 percent of consumers think that advertising mail accounts for half of the content in the nation’s landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mail actually makes up 2.4 percent of municipal waste.
In addition, graphic arts courses and vocational training in general is disappearing from our high schools, making it increasingly difficult to staff our pressrooms and supporting departments with qualified individuals interested in pursuing careers in the graphic arts.
PI: Despite a host of seemingly negative influences that are impacting the printing industry in general, and direct mail printers in particular, what are some of the positive influences you’ve seen recently?
ANDERSEN: Marketers continue to see value in direct mail. Direct mail continues to work better than e-mail for acquisition campaigns, and there has been a double-digit increase in the use of direct mail for retention programs. The focus on sustainability is causing us to take a hard look at our processes and do a better job with resources and materials.