The words "sustainability" and "green" are on the tip of every marketer's tongue. But a lot of green marketing is just smoke and mirrors and branding.
Here are four ways for marketers to truly make a difference in their campaigns.
1. Manage customer communication preferences
It's environmentally friendly to maintain a clean mailing list and allow customers to select how they'd like to be contacted (phone, e-mail or mail) and how often they'd like to hear from you. The more you can streamline communications to fit with your customer's preferences, the less resources you'll waste in paper, printing and data and web hosting. It will also save you time and money in the long run, make your customer's happy and hopefully increase your response rates. In your next customer communication, provide a way for customers to select their communication preferences. Then, make it a goal to update your customer database so that you can easily adhere to those preferences in the next campaign.
2. Purchase carbon offset credits
Every time a company prints a mailing, builds a new website or creates a publication there are plenty of resources used - such as paper, ink and energy. The goal of the green movement is to lessen a company's footprint, i.e. how much resources it uses and how much carbon dioxide it creates in the process. There are many organizations out there, offering carbon offset credits and forestry credits so that companies can help reduce their impact, in effect by purchasing the credits, which go to increases in wind-energy and good forestry practices around the world.
3. Make green production choices
The SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logos have become ubiquitous on leading marketer's and catalogers print communications. When printing a mailing, brochure or other communication, be sure to use paper with the highest percentage of recycled content available and if possible, try to use a product that is certified by one of the above organizations, which means the forest the paper came from, the means of transporting the paper to the printer, the entire supply chain is as green as possible. When consumers see the recycled and sustainable logos on your printed piece, they'll know you're a responsible marketer.
4. Participate in cause marketing
Cause marketing is when a for-profit company creates a campaign or promotion where a portion of the proceeds go to a nonprofit cause. This type of marketing appeal works best when there is a natural synergy between the company's target audience and the cause's constituency. Contact the local environmental organizations in your area or leading national organizations to find out how you can work together to build a campaign and contribute a portion of the proceeds to the cause.