In the world of business “green” and “marketing” don’t usually go hand-in-hand. While green strategies may be applied to intra-office operations or energy use, the connections between going green and successful marketing are harder to see. The green revolution and the ever-evolving field of marketing actually have quite a bit in common and these commonalities can be useful when developing innovative and competitive marketing strategies.
But what does it mean?
“Going green” refers to the systematic processes in which an agency evaluates its overall ecological impact and takes steps to improve wasteful practices, offset negative expenditures, and make energy expenditure more effective and efficient. This admittedly opaque definition can be understood by observing some very simple practices.
Switching from traditional incandescent light bulbs to high-efficiency bulbs is a good example of this definition in action. The switch to high-efficiency bulbs eliminates the waste generated by traditional bulbs since a single HE bulb will burn for years rather than months; this saves the company money. Throwing away dozens or hundreds of light bulbs is a negative expenditure that is dramatically reduced through the use of HE bulbs.
And finally, resource energy (electricity in this case) is more wisely used since much less electrical power is required to generate a comparable amount of light. As a result of switching to HE light bulbs a business generates less waste, spends less on replacement bulbs, and draws less upon the power grid, thereby saving money.
Marketing goes green
Marketing is all about creating the maximum effect with the minimum effort. That is, marketers are interested in achieving targeted effects through the deployment of specific strategies. Marketing is all about efficiency – just like going green is. In fact, the same three goals of going green mentioned above can be used when thinking about marketing.
• Improving wasteful practices – What marketing strategies aren’t working? Which strategies need to be discontinued? Identifying wasteful advertising practices gives you an opportunity to evaluate how realistic your definition of success actually is.
Small, targeted campaigns are simply not going to have the same demographic saturation that large, broad campaigns will. You might be seeing success but just not on the scale you initially imagined. A reframing may be necessary.
• Offset negative expenditures – Waste is an unfortunate reality in the marketing world. If only ten percent of the people who walk by a display booth will take a brochure and only ten percent of those are going to make contact with a business representative then traditional marketing says to deploy as many brochures as possible.
This strategy has a high negative expenditure: There are thousands of brochures being created and handed out that will never be looked at by an interested customer. This can be offset by using recycled paper in your printed material and recycling outdated brochures instead of throwing them away.
• Make energy expenditure more effective and efficient – Online marketing, especially social media marketing, allows businesses to craft advertising messages that are highly specific and aimed at a very particular demographic. Instead of the broad saturation approach used in traditional marketing, new marketing allows for a narrow approach that nonetheless produces a significant return relative to the expenditure.
This green principle can be put into action by crafting value-rich advertising and promotional content that informs the audience and points them in your direction. Branding today is as much about delivering value-rich content as it is about crafting a consistent brand identity.
The green philosophy can apply to any situation where waste needs eliminated and return on expenditure needs maximized. That said, going green encompasses the entire cycle of production, from the idea stage to dismantling and disposal. The production of ideas can be looked at through a green frame, too. By applying the philosophical principles behind the green movement it’s possible to revitalize your marketing practices and keep your business ecologically responsible.