steven powell

Green Marketing

Some truths behind altruistic marketing images

By Steven Powell

Is it possible to do something good and still be self-serving?

Absolutely, just look around.

A few years ago, IBM’s advertising showed an IT ‘guy’ and  an ‘executive’ bracing each other as the self-important exec asks, “Why should I care about ‘going green’ when all I care about is our bottom line?”

The answer, “This will save us umpteen-million dollars annually by…” was usually followed by bugging eyes and little cartoon forest animals.

Where do we sign?

Is that really so bad? Doesn’t it signify a welcome sign of change that industry/commerce is fully embracing this planet’s needs? Doesn’t it follow (hopefully) that these large savings will help keep our spiraling expenses from erupting?

We’re not stupid. We know they’re really looking out for themselves, but if it also does something good for everybody else?…Not bad, right?

If profitable can come to be synonymous with responsible, then we’ve all won something, haven’t we? It seems that many corporate executives are getting the message.

Recently, the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Conference published its survey of international business leaders. Of the 424 conference participants, more than two-thirds said that more responsible business practices could have lessened, or even prevented, the recent economic downturn. (To download a complete version of the survey, go to the Schein Media web site at www.njand.com.)

So how does this help us here on the local front? There are numerous ways small business owners can take advantage of similar marketing and commerce trends.

How about this?

If you know your business, then there’s a good chance that you’ve already spotted a niche market and can, with little effort, begin structuring your business offerings accordingly. Maybe you make tents and have found a source for a more earth-friendly canvas? Maybe it’s also fire-retardant? Maybe it’s also made in the tiny villages of South America where each tent sold represents a month’s food? Wow!

Print your brochures! Place your ads! You’re selling a valuable commodity while offering a replacement material that’s doing good for the world on so many different levels! Why should you shy away from screaming it to the rooftops?

But, wait. What if you sell tents, but don’t have any special resource for anything like this? Find it! Go looking for it on the web! Make it happen and it will happen. Then market the #$@&!@ out of it using all the ‘spin’ you can muster.

Just, don’t ever confuse lies with spin. A good lie can sell almost anything…once. Then the gig is up. A good spin finds inherent truths and expands on them to sell a product or service. Find that inherent ‘green’ truth in what you sell and put it out there proudly.

Good marketing follows trends of importance to people’s buying decisions and targets those desires accordingly. If something helps sell, marketing advisers have an absolute duty to make these options available to our clients.

Green marketing can also be proactive. Give up printed materials? Never! We have several clients using only recycled paper for their necessary postcards, letters and flyers.

You might expect that there is a whole industry out there selling different grades of recycled paper to printers, but you’ve probably heard they’re expensive. They certainly can be. But the industry has experienced incredible growth in the last several years and prices have come down drastically. Ask your printer or art department to do a little research. They’ll find reasonable resources.

Choices for recycled printing stock run the gambit from plain and newspaper-like to glitzy and holographic—and everything in-between! There are even incredible water-based inks out there that are unrecognizable from traditional petroleum-based inks.

What else can you do? Start considering e-mail marketing again—even for local or regional markets. Create viral campaigns for your products and services using social media, blogs or your website’s home page. Do it right and the search engines will start keying on those ”green” keywords, helping spread the word that your business is environmentally sensitive.

Green marketing supports your chosen business philosophy, delivers a strong message to those around you and puts you on the “right side” of your community. And there are more and more buyers out there who are thinking about these things and supporting those ‘vendors’ that think in a similar vein.

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