This is a guest post from green marketing consultant Anne Michelsen.
Is Green a passing fad? Not according to a recent report by Watershed Publishing. In the study released last month, 48% of marketers surveyed who tracked the effectiveness of their advertising reported that Green messages increased response (vs. only 7% who found it less effective). But that’s not all – these direct marketers also reported that consumers will spend more when they perceive a product as being Green.
Good news to those of us who market a product or service that’s easy on the Earth, right? But before you book Kermit the Frog as your poster child, take care: the wrong Green message can get you smeared.
Here are some basic do’s and don’ts for getting the most out of your Green marketing in terms of customer loyalty and money in the bank. Let’s start with the do’s.
- DO be authentic. If Green’s not really your thing, steer clear. At best you’ll be boring; at worst you’ll be tagged with the dreaded “greenwash” label and forced to face the scathing wrath of angry bloggers. Don’t go there.
- DO be transparent. This is so ultra, ultra critical that at the last Green marketing conference I attended, when the question “What’s the most important element in a Green marketing campaign?” popped up during a small-group discussion all eight of us at the table practically shouted in unison, “Transparency!”
If you’re not familiar with the term, transparency means full disclosure. It means being open and honest about the methods, materials and procedures your company uses. For instance, if you claim the tennis shoes you manufacture are made with organic canvas using fair labor practices, be prepared to prove your claims, preferably with third-party verification. (For a great example of transparency in action, check out Apple’s Life Cycle Impact disclosure. Notice how they’re not just being transparent, they’re also taking the opportunity to educate their customer base – and, of course, plug their product.)
- DO be involved. Green isn’t just about the planet. It’s about people, too. Can you think of a project that will benefit your community and/or the planet, and get the word out about your company at the same time? By all means, go for it!
Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program is a brilliant example. By taking back worn-out product (their own and their competitors’), recycling it into playground and athletic surfaces, and donating some of the resulting product to communities at home and abroad, Nike doesn’t just exhibit corporate social and environmental responsibility. They’ve created a publicity monster. The program gets regular mentions in the traditional media, in countless blogs like this one, and even during church coffee hours and the like all over the nation. Oh, and one more plus – not all the reused shoe product gets donated. The majority is sold as surfacing for gym floors and school running tracks – at a tidy profit for Nike. Talk about turning waste into dollars!
Part two of Anne’s article, the DON’Ts of selling green, will appear tomorrow.
Anne Michelsen is a freelance sales writer and marketing consultant, and co-author (with Dan Kennedy and Thomas Ribar) of “The Ultimate Success Secret: Wealth Building and Success Secrets of Wisconsin’s Top Entrepreneurs.” She helps Green companies build sustainable connections with their customers with her dynamic sales copy and marketing expertise. Visit GreenInkCopywriting.com for a free copy of her report, “Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.”