A New Jersey state lawmaker is urging his constituents to stop “junk mail” by signing up for the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service — and is using a direct mail piece to get his message out.
State Sen. Joseph Coniglio of Paramus, NJ, sent the self-mailers to about 30,000 constituents in his district in mid-April, said Marc Schrieks, Coniglio's chief of staff. Less than a week after the mailing, about 150 recipients had responded by calling Coniglio's office and about 400 had returned the tear-off response sheet on the mailer.
One marketer who lives in Coniglio's district, Jeff Kaminski, marketing manager for Euromoney Training in New York, said he found irony in Coniglio's use of direct mail in the campaign.
“He's bashing direct mail,” Kaminski said. “But he's using it for his own goals.”
However, the senator sees a clear difference between commercial direct mail and non-commercial mail offering a free service such as the one he sent his constituents, Schrieks said.
“We're not selling anything,” Schrieks said. “Furthermore, we're not repeating a mailer and following up with constant mailers to sell anything.”
The DMA's Mail Preference Service is required for use by DMA members. Registration by mail is free for consumers, and the list is distributed four times a year.
At least two other state senators, each with districts similar in size to Coniglio's, have joined in issuing the “no junk-mail” mailers, Schrieks said. Coniglio's mailer features the image of a pair of hands setting a bundle of mailers aflame with a lighter.
Along with signing up consumers for the DMA's no-mail list, Coniglio's mailer urges them to call 888/5-OPT-OUT to “stop pre-approved loan offers” as well as credit card and mortgage offers. The toll-free number, established by credit bureaus acting on a 1996 amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, lets consumers opt out of having their names sold to creditors for use in marketing.
Coniglio's mailer was inspired in part by a mail effort begun about eight months ago for telemarketing, Schrieks said. It offered to place consumers on the DMA's Telephone Preference Service, which works similarly to the Mail Preference Service and is required for use by DMA members who engage in telemarketing.
The telemarketing mailer went to the same group of 30,000 Coniglio constituents and achieved a response rate around 8 percent, Schrieks said. The high interest in the mailer helped Coniglio in his effort to support legislation for a no-call list in New Jersey, which is nearing passage.
During the telemarketing campaign many Coniglio constituents raised the subject of direct mail and how much it bothers them, Schrieks said. Some of these consumers asked Coniglio to sponsor a similar mailing for direct mail.
Schrieks said he was unsure whether this mailer would lead Coniglio to seek legislation related to direct mail, such as a state no-mail list. Whatever further actions the senator takes depend on the response to the mailer, he said.
“If the response so far is a sign, it seems like it would be important enough to follow up on,” he said.