Do you want to be known as a green or brown brand? That is a question all businesses and their brands will need to consider at some point. I believe most of us want to do the ‘right’ thing and operate in an environmentally sustainable way but how many businesses actually do? Many businesses perceive that it is a cost to become a certified green business. But does it have to be so?
- Think of the money saved by operating more efficiently and using resources more effectively.
- Create a point of difference for your brand and attract like-minded people to engage with.
- Use social media platforms to publicise events and memorable activities which demonstrate you ‘walk the walk’ and are not just all talk. Share your green initiatives with your audience.
- Can you become a market leader in your industry by embracing environmental credentials?
Here are my 10 tips for incorporating some green strategies into your marketing and communications:
- Choose your paper stock well Always use recycled or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) products that are independently recognised for their practices for all your printed material. FSC products are recognised for their sustainable forest practices. If you have a quality brand and need to produce high quality printed material, choose a paper stock which includes a high recycled content (post consumer waste) and FSC content and print with vegetable based inks and aqueous varnish. Talk to your printer about what you want to achieve and ask for some paper samples.
- Printed Material Choose the purpose for printed material carefully. Choose a printer with eco credentials. ie clean production, sustainable business practices, supply chain procurement. Examine the possibilities of using suppliers with 100% waterless presses powered using 100% greenpower. Include a byline about the paperstock and method you have used to print on all your printed material.
- Promotional items If you are considering a promotional item as a giveaway at an event or function there are a number of eco-friendly products that can be branded with your logo and message. Consider how useful the item will be to the recipient and where it is manufactured. Did it travel half way round the world to your doorstep before you distribute it? Is it recyclable afterwards? I have used some of these ideas and have found some others including:
– Fully recyclable plastic drink bottles
– Paper stock embedded with native plant seeds. Read it, plant it, grow it.
– Seed sticks business cards
– Shower water timers
– Tubes of sunscreen
– Non woven polypropylene bag or calico bags ( I reuse these over and over getting my groceries from the supermarket.)
– Bamboo desk sets, bamboo usb drives
– Cornstarch pens, recycled pens and pencils. These options offer alternatives to plastic casings (which are fossil fuel derived) . The bio-degradability of the pen body can be compared to cardboard when composted, and there are no toxic or metal residues.
- Product Packaging Packaging design needs to be carefully considered to maintain a balance between protecting and securing the product with minimising waste in the packaging. Consider the materials used. Are they biodegradable or recyclable? Does the package allow efficient packaging for transport.
Online Marketing An effective way of reaching your audience ( and reduce paper usage) is through electronic newsletters (eg MailChimp, Aweber) with links to your website or a blog. Provide content of value to your audience to build brand equity. Minimise your printed collateral by directing customers to the website and having a website friendly page on mobile devices. Make social media part of your brand communications strategy.
Be Social Use of social media is a growing area for online marketing with Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, YouTube etc. increasing in popularity. Make sure you respond to all whether they are lovers or critics of your brand. Engage your audience and resist the temptation to sell on these channels.
Events Ask your event provider about strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of hosting the event. Strategies may include reducing waste, recycling and reusing materials as options to offset carbon emissions and purchases of carbon credits. Consider public transport accessibility to the venue and include instructions for public transport on your invitations and electronically sent reminders.
Act local Look at your local suppliers first. Become involved with your community. Being an active participant and supporter in your local community provides many personal and rewarding experiences. It gives your brand an opportunity to engage differently with your audience.
Add green credentials. Start a program of improvement towards green accreditation for your business. Take the mini assessment at Green Biz check to get a taste of what needs to be done.
Don’t greenwash Be proud to tell and promote your green activities and initiatives but make sure they are sound and any ‘green’ claims can be backed up. Greenwashing is a term describing the deceptive use of green labeling or PR in order to promote a misleading perception of environmentally friendly business. This will only be harmful in the long run.