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Go 'green' to reduce marketing fulfillment costs

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According to InfoTrends, going “green” is becoming big business in printing. Each step in the production and delivery process affects our planet, and in light of the increased awareness of global warming, more and more customers are demanding green printing.

There are three main ways in which your fulfillment provider can help reduce your marketing environmental impact:

1) Environmental stewardship.Implement a number of polices to reduce the impact on the environment. Some include:Using energy efficient lighting systems in warehouse facilities; reducing energy needs by keeping dock doors and bays closed at all times to better control climate; introducing recycling programs in all facilities; avoiding polystyrene for void fill or cushioning during the packing process; insisting on the use of packing paper, which is environmentally friendly and biodegradable, and; instituting stronger controls for discarded office paper, ensuring it is deposited in secure shredding bins and ultimately recycled post shredding.

2) Use recycled materials. In addition to the above initiatives, marketers should advocate for the use of recycled materials in every print project. A growing number of marketers employ digital print for their materials, which is ideally suited for printing on recycled paper.

3) Focus on customercentric marketing. Marketers can implement customercentric marketing techniques to reduce the volume of printed, stored and distributed material. This is potentially the most powerful technique available to marketers.

To choose the most appropriate production and distribution methods to achieve maximum efficiency and, hence, minimum environmental impact includes a comprehensive evaluation and rationalization of all communication materials and distribution options. The main goals are to increase the production efficiency of the communication process and to produce only the materials that are needed. A major added benefit is an increase in the effectiveness of the communication process with improved response rates.

Selecting the best methods for production and delivery, and producing only the material needed, can limit printing volumes and costs; decrease or eliminate storage; cut delivery costs; and shrink or eradicate waste.

By increasing relevance, personalization and accuracy, and by reducing time to market, a fulfillment specialist can help increase response rates and improve ROI. All marketing materials should be examined and evaluated for the following factors: target audience, purpose, value, quantities, life and delivery method.

Various print and production options should also be evaluated, including offset print; black digital print on demand (POD) on plain paper; black digital POD on offset shell; color digital POD on white paper; combination of digital POD and offset; dynamic digital POD; and delivery (including electronic).

Implementing such a process can help reduce overall communication materials by 30% or more. Increases in the effectiveness of the material are harder to quantify, but increases in response rates greater than 100% have been realized.

In its simplest form, you should evaluate marketing materials for their suitability for conversion to digital print on demand. The primary objective here is to increase the efficiency of the communication and eliminate waste. In other words, reduce the total impact associated with the communication including printing, transport, storage and insurance.

Customercentric marketing and green initiatives can work together to generate positive, environmentally conscious results. With an understanding of how efficient management of printing and fulfillment programs can reduce waste and negative environmental impact, marketers can save money and deliver customercentric material that increases ROI.

David Lowndes is director-product development at Iron Mountain Fulfillment Services (www.ironmountain.com/fulfillment/). He can be reached at david.lowndes@ironmountain.com.

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