In part one we talked about the DO’s of green marketing. Now let’s look at things to avoid:
- DON’T be confusing. A while back I was asked to give a presentation on renewable energy to a group of seniors. They seemed engaged and alert, but when it came time for Q&A, one old lady raised her hand. “I’m not sure I understand. What do you mean by ‘green’?”
She’s not the only one. “Most consumers know less than you might think they do about how to ‘go green’ and what constitutes green,” says Suzanne Shelton, founder of the Shelton Group, a marketing research firm and agency specializing motivating mainstream consumers to make green choices.
Ask any seasoned sales guy – a confused customer doesn’t buy. In your marketing, do your best to educate your customers about your products. Focus on the benefits, and be as specific as possible. Use clear, easy-to understand language and avoid buzzwords and industry jargon. And don’t assume that your customers are familiar with the same issues you are, or will jump to the same conclusions you do – chances are they aren’t, and won’t.
- DON’T be boring. Or irrelevant. We got a promotional mailing from our plumbing supply house the other day (my husband installs solar thermal so we get that kind of stuff.) Emblazoned proudly on the envelope were the words, “Go Green with XYZ Plumbing Supply.” My husband snorted when he saw it. “Go green? What the heck are they talking about – they’re selling the same plumbing stuff they have for years.”
I smiled and typed “Go green” into Google. Just as I thought. 142 million results. Beats “Michael Jackson” by about 10 million.
Don’t, don’t, DON”T talk about being green just because it’s the in thing. “Go green” will do nothing but blend you in with all the other zillion marketers out there wanting to cash in on the new green trend. Do it, and you’ve committed the ultimate marketing sin – being BORING!
Make it specific. Make it relevant. Make it YOURS! (Oh, yeah, and leave Kermit alone. He’s tired.)
- DON’T think Green alone will boost response. I don’t know how many research reports I’ve read that bear this out. My own experience confirms it. For good or bad, the vast majority of people buy for their own selfish reasons. If an appealing product saves the planet, that’s great. It’s important to enough people that it can make a difference – sometimes a big difference – in your market share. But you better believe they’re not going to buy unless it ALSO, and in most cases PRIMARILY! makes them look good…makes them more comfortable…saves them money…etc., etc.
Bottom line: appeal to their deepest desires first. Then use Green (along with other logic-based reasons) to firm up the decision in their minds.
One last disclaimer – the do’s and don’ts in this article represent generic best practice based on many hours of research and hands-on experience. But hey, in marketing there’s always an element of crap shoot. Every situation is different. The only way to know for sure what works is to test.
Have you tested Green messaging in your marketing? How’d it work for you?
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.”