Being a sustainable business in your everyday dealings is a gratifying venture. But some entrepreneurs haven’t yet transplanted their philosophies into their marketing. The same ideals that that leads us to use recycled paper and halogen light bulbs can direct us towards smarter, more effective marketing that will improve our planet and our brands.
No one will be giving you any praise for handing out flyers these days- it’s obnoxious and wasteful and completely cost-ineffective. The most bang for your buck, in cost and resources, will always come from reusable resources. The top of the pile in my book is reusable packaging. Whether you choose to hand clients a branded, durable folder for documents or to offer reusable cups and containers like Starbucks, you’ll be preventing future waste and future cost.
For displays at the generally woefully under-branded home office, consider custom wallpaper. It’s reusable and removable and can display literally any design or message you want. Also, A-frame signs to sit on the sidewalk have experienced a resurgence. They’ve become a way for a business to use clever catchphrases or straight-up jokes to attract attention. By using a chalkboard A-frame, even in front of a chain location or highly successful store, you can add some personality to your marketing on the sidewalk without wasting paper.
And, of course, you can put many of the same things you would on a flyer onto distributable promotional products. Swag, if you will, has become increasingly popular. Part of its popularity is that you’re handing the prospective consumer something that they actually want and will quite possibly keep for a long time, whether it be a pen or a Frisbee or a reusable tote bag. These products might not be reusable to you, but they are to the recipients. Another part of swag’s appeal is that it is tangible. In the world of the digital, marketing that you can touch and take is becoming rare and therefore notable.
Speaking of the world of the digital, if you don’t have an online presence, and I cannot stress this enough, get one. I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but paper mail marketing is somewhat outdated. It faces the same problems as flyers, but on an even more wasteful and annoying scale. Emails are far better than snail mail, can include links, and can even have printable coupons attached.
If you really want to make your mark, though, social media is the way to go. Especially among younger consumers, Facebook, Twitter, and QR codes are effective and green. They provide the opportunity to develop your brand, your philosophy, and your personality without spending a ton of time, money, or supplies.
If you want to be digitally green, look into cloud computing. Besides being convenient and cutting edge, it also can save a lot of energy and resources by outsourcing your servers to people who have a serious stake in using as few resources as possible as part of their business model.
Literally green marketing
Companies and brands are no longer encouraged to keep to business. The most successful companies are those that foster a brand personality, particularly a principled one. One of my favorite ways to promote an ethical brand personality is to get your hands dirty.
Some of the most memorable offices and stores I’ve ever stepped foot in had abundant plants to make their ambience more pleasant. A sustainable, organic garden, even if it’s just in window boxes, is attractive to customers. Using biodegradable tools for your plants, especially those from local sources, shows attention to detail and solidarity with your community. Offer to talk to people about your green efforts and consider holding a seminar on what you’ve learned about eco-friendly business techniques.
Of course, a tried and true method of marketing comes from the greenest of places, literal trees. If you’re looking to improve the environment, your PR, and your team-building simultaneously, plant some trees for a charitable cause or park project. Spread the word about the event all over your social media and have your reusable swag on hand on the big day to unify your green methods in a grand show of your ethics. Campaigns in which you pledge plants or hours of labor per sale can boom with certain communities, so think about holding these events a couple times a year.
Being green can be fulfilling in its own right, but when you market your business in ways that reduce your waste, you can cultivate your own ethics as well as those of your company. In fact, you might find yourselves leading by example and making green into the new standard.