My mother was green way before it was cool. She reduced, reused and recycled her way through the ME generation of the 80’s. She worried about how increasingly convenient packaging and single serving containers were clogging landfills long before the Brita filter started telling us how many miles of bottles it saves. For the most part I rolled my eyes at my mom as I grabbed my conveniently packaged 12 oz Mountain Dew every morning on my way out the door to high school. I jumped in my V8 350 hp gas guzzling Oldsmobile and drove the 5 miles to school like the rest of the “cool” kids instead of taking the energy efficient bus.
I try to be more Earth friendly now. I have children of my own to set an example for and we do recycle everything our curbside recycling company will take. We use refillable water bottles and I try to be chemical free with cleaning products. The problem is there is just so much “noise” in the green marketing movement. How do we as marketers differentiate a true green product from one that is just trying to ride the coattails of a popular movement?
Be Real and Consistent
Genuine commitment to being environmentally conscious isn’t something we just do on Earth Day. Don’t be like the company that sent me an email this morning asking me if I wanted to “Save Some Green in honor of Earth Day”. Very poorly played. Their product has nothing to do with being Green or environmentally conscience but they think because they put the term “Green” in their subject line on Earth Day they are participating in a movement. You turn more people off than on with this kind of shtick.
Being an organization that is associated with Green initiatives means being consistent all year long with your actions. Earth Day might be a great time to highlight that commitment and showcase your results with an event or campaign but it needs to look like an endeavor you have been invested in for a while or it will come across as a gimmick.
If you company has spent the past 6 months reducing your carbon emissions, making your packaging of recycled materials and planting trees around your corporate headquarters that is great to let your customers know. But you have to say it in language and terms that the average consumer of your product can understand. If you start rambling about carbon offsets and micro-grid energy production from solar panels from your rooftop grid, you are going to lose people.
Engage in a dialogue. Tell your customers what you are up to and ask for suggestions and feedback. Maybe they want to tell you about how they are reusing your packaging to make something clever. My mom was the Queen of Girl Scout crafts from old bread bags, milk jugs, etc. Partnering with organizations such as Scout troops to plant trees, organize recycling gives you an actionable story that not only meets your goals but generates good PR at the same time.
Learn Something You Can Action On
There are experts in almost every field of marketing these days. You probably already employ or subcontract to Social Media Specialists, Graphic Designers, PR firms, etc. Don’t try to go it alone in the Green Marketing space either. I recommend you check out Earthsense. They are experts in Green attitudes and market segments around the Green movement. They publish the Green Confidence Indexmonthly in cooperation with Greenbiz.com. Wendy Cobrda, President of Earthsense, has guest posted on this blog sharing her expertise in the area of survey research.
Is This Really Necessary for B2B?
Using a firm like Earthsense can help you hone your messaging and ensure that you are keeping with the principles that are most important to your business end customer. In B2B this is especially tricky because you want your goals to line up with another organizations goals. Companies such as Microsoft and Google with strong Green indicatives at their own corporate headquarters want to align with partners who share those commitments.
More and more technology RFP’s I read and answer for clients have questions about resource sharing, off peak power management and sustainability plans. Make sure you understand and properly answer these questions or you will look as much like a wolf in sheep’s clothing as that “save some green” email I received this morning. Be genuine, be educational and learn the research. It will give us all something to celebrate next Earth Day.