HB718, submitted by Bozeman Rep Franke Wilmer, is yet another stab at the heart of the small business owner (much less the wanna-be entrepreneur) in Montana.
Note that this bill is scheduled for a hearing, so it has a long way to go. By the time they are done, it will be filled with lobby-influenced exemptions, like non-profit organizations, and of course – elected officials and political candidates.
Before you celebrate that your mail box wont have any more junk mail in it, perhaps you should consider a few things:
This is not like the “Do Not Call” list. US Mail doesnt interrupt you during dinner, doesnt nag you, etc. If you dont like it, you can throw it away and punish the mailer by not buying anything from them. It also ISN’T limited to residential addresses.
The great thing about direct mail is that you have to get it right or it costs you a fortune. Anyone who isn’t willing to study the masters and learn from them is doomed to waste $ and is punished in the wallet for their mistakes. If you are mailing to the wrong prospects, or to the wrong people, your wallet gets a big hole in it for nothing. Its not like spam email where it costs close to nothing to send 200,000 emails a day. Email isnt paid for by the sender. Direct mail is.
Small business loses on this one. Imagine that you start a new business tomorrow. One of the best ways to get leads on new business is with an appropriate offer to a segmented list that you are sure, AHEAD of time, will have a reasonable percentage of people who get your mail. Sorry, but you cant mail to people you don’t know anymore. You cant call them. You cant fax them.
Big business is the clear winner. They already have market share, a customer list, staff and cash flow to beat down any newcomer who has no relationship, no mailing list, cant call, cant fax, etc. If you were thinking about starting a small business, doesn’t that make you feel good?
Entrepreneurs in Montana who have businesses built around helping other businesses do direct mail marketing are going to be hurt. Welcome to reality.
Print shops that print direct mail will find their customer workload shrink. Remember, these arent evil, 3 headed monsters, they’re tax-paying, voting citizens with kids to feed and homes to buy.
Unintended consequences abound. Hopefully in tomorrow’s hearing, someone will realize this and kill it. I’ve emailed my rep and the bill’s sponsor to ask for that very action.
Full text of the bill: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2007/billhtml/HB0718.htm
Currently there are no exemptions, but I have full faith in the legislature that they will manage to find a way to exempt political organizations and non-profits, as well as anyone represented at the passing of the lobbyist’s wallet.
One last thought: Have you gotten less spam email since the Feds created their anti-spam law? Think this will work any better?
If this and similar legislation in other states passes, you can expect your direct mail to start coming from Canada, etc. Sure, it’ll cost a little more for a business to mail it, but that just benefits the businesses with more savvy and deeper pockets. The more they have to spend to do a mailing, the harder it is for a small business to break in. Just what big business wants. Unintended consequences for the consumer – less competition, less quality, poorer service.