It’s the time of year when all of us start thinking green. Maybe it’s that the mountains of snow are finally melting and we’re actually seeing green again… and in a case of perfect timing, we’re also smack in the middle of the build up to the annual Earth Day celebrations on April 22.
Today our planet is in just as much danger as it ever was, and climate change may well be the defining issue of our time. It’s not something any of us can afford to ignore… at least not any more. Businesses have a responsibility, just like the rest of us, to the planet and the people on it. What’s more, consumers want to do business with companies that are environmentally responsible. Going green, it seems, has finally reached the mainstream.
Marketing rules for businesses who are going green are simple and common sense — the first (rather unexpected) one is not to lead with the green benefit. It’s almost like you’re trying too hard when you shout “Earth friendly” at people. Instead, focus on the primary, distinctive benefits of your product/service and then mention (or conclude with) the environmental ones advises Jacquie Ottman, consultant and author of the new book The New Rules of Green Marketing
When it comes to getting your name and number noticed, promotional products have proven themselves to be a valuable investment. We know they beat out other forms of advertising in terms of recall rates and cost per impression. When you go green with the promo items you use, you go beyond establishing that all-important connection with the recipient, you also deliver a subtle but powerful message about your commitment to our environment.
The selection of green promotional products, once rather meager, is growing by leaps and bounds. We’ve come far from the days of recycled note pads — these days there are lots of products you might choose. Some of them are targeted toward living a green lifestyle — items for the gardener or fitness buff, for example. Others are earth friendly everyday essentials, mouse pads, magnets, key tags, coasters, stress balls and such. There are even cell phone charms, toy yoyos or recycled glass ornaments — unique items that do more than showcase your business name and number, they are rock solid evidence of your commitment to a more “green” way of doing business. There are even recycled items for special events — tablecloths, napkins, banners and more.
As with anything, when buying green, you need to be an informed consumer. Ask precisely what about the product makes it environmentally friendly. Be sure you consider the environmental impact of producing and distributing the product you choose. Stay informed on the issues (the hub bub on BPA and water bottles comes to mind) and don’t skip doing your homework on a product — people will ask.
If you’re smart, you won’t stop your green efforts at the promo products you choose. Look around your workspace and see what things you can do. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive, start with simple things like…
- Adding a recycling bin to any central locations in your office — by the mailboxes, in the break room, next to the copier… anywhere there’s a trash can.
- Use ceramic mugs or glasses for coffee or other drinks.
- Patronizing other green businesses in your area.
- Removing your business from any junk mail lists you get on, as well as the Direct Marketing Association’s prospect list.
- Limiting how much paper (35% of the waste stream) you use, consider electronic signatures for documents.
- Following the FTC Green Guides when making marketing claims.
- Recycling old electronic equipment — cell phones, cameras, palm pilots for example.
- Choosing products that are made from renewable or recycled materials and keep track of green corporate citizens via ClimateCounts.org. Ask exactly what makes the product “green“.
- Being sure to shut off those lights, unplug the power strips for your computer/printer setup as well as phone chargers when you leave the office.
This year, Earth Day will feature a campaign known as A Billion Acts of Green® that recognizes personal, corporate and organizational pledges to live and act sustainably. The goal is to register one billion actions before the Earth Summit in Rio in 2012. The form is right on the website… takes two minutes to go there, another few to think of what you might do.
After all, if all of us do our part, none of us will do too much.