Green Marketing – Fundamentals of a Successful Direct Marketing Campaign

There are three elements to a successful green marketing campaign: being credibly green, addressing a need, and communicating in an environmentally friendly way. We will explore each in more detail.

First: Credibility. This requirement is somewhat unique in the realm of marketing. Consider the scenario where Harley-Davidson had to certify that all employees ride motorcycles or Whole Foods had to attest to the good eating habits of its employees. Neither do, of course.

If you are going to make green marketing claims, however, the first place your customers will look in assessing those claims is at you. Have you determined your environmental impact and are you taking steps to mitigate it. You need not have eliminated all environmentally unfriendly practices, but you should disclose them along with your plan to address them (sooner or later).

As part of establishing your green credibility, you should seek to obtain valid third-party certification and you should demonstrate executive level (ideally CEO) commitment to sustainable business practices. The third-party certification can come from any of array of private or non-governmental organizations with business practice evaluation programs. The executive level commitment should be on-going and incorporated into regular business oversight policies and procedures.

Second: Address a Need. This is the fundamental purpose of business overall, but often gets lost in the complexities and mythology inherent in green business. Products or services must solve for a need or leverage a trend in order to be successful. Green products and services do not get a pass just because they have environmentally friendly attributes.

Consumers, for the most part, are unwilling to pay more for environmentally friendly products, services, or green attributes added on to existing products and services. So address the need, just do it in a green way.

If you are incorporating green attributes into an existing product or service, be clear and specific with your claims. Set the green benefits in context and communicate in a straight-forward way. Any hype or promotional tonality is likely to ensure your audience views the message with a high degree of cynicism.

If you designing entirely new green products or services, then identify the need, and address it in an environmentally friendly way. Thus, you may reformulate a product using environmentally friends raw materials and manufacturing processes, but it still must perform as well as non-green competitors, and may only yield a modest price premium (if at all).

Third: Communicate using Eco-friendly Channels. One example of a recent perceptual shift is in financial services. Until recently, solicitations were viewed negatively primarily because of concern around the security of personal information and the potential for identity theft. Now those solicitations are a predominantly a bad thing because they kill trees. Imagine the reaction if a [paper] solicitation arrives in the mail offering a green product or service: instant credibility loss.

Be creative about how you promote the product or service. Investigate and leverage new channels, such as solar power billboards, or street advertising. Go beyond soy inks and recycled paper to leveraging virtual channels and viral marketing. Both are lower impact methods of getting the message out. Green is becoming very popular. Do it right by taking these fundamental steps and you will stand out; building a lasting, engaging relationship with your customers.