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Shel Horowitz – “The Transformpreneur”(sm)

GREEN MARKETING DONE WRONG

The box says “100% of the electricity used to manufacture these crackers and this container come from green power sources,” and has a nice little accompanying graphic of a windmill. Just above this is a Forest Stewardship Council certification logo denoting sustainably harvested timber sources for the box.

This is a company that’s doing the right thing, right?  Great green marketing… or is it?

Yeah, but they forgot to tell anyone in a meaningful way. Both of these logos and statements are on the bottom panel of the box, where no one can see it unless they’ve already bought the crackers—or perhaps if the prospect accidentally knocks the package off the supermarket shelf, happens to land the bottom facing up, and somehow notices the small logos while picking up the box.

In other words, the marketing benefit of their commitment is just slightly above zero.

This particular package has plenty of white space on the front panel, prime real estate that does have a heksher (Kosher certification logo) but otherwise, does very little marketing at all.

This cracker company (which I will not name publicly) is far from alone. 

Another example, which I highlight as a case study in my talks, is the household paper products company, Marcal. When I say that this company was a pioneer and ask my audiences what year they think Marcal switched to recycled paper, most of the answers tend to fall between 1985 and 2005. Occasionally someone will guess a year in the 1970s.

Not once has anyone guessed the correct answer—1950—or even the correct decade. Because, for too long, like the cracker company, Marcal kept its best marketing point hidden. Even though the company has been 100% recycled for more than 70 years, it was only in this century that it started incorporating this vital message into its packaging—and only since 2009 that environmental branding has become central in its consumer-facing talking points.

You just have to wonder how much more toilet paper, napkins, tissues and paper towels the company would have sold if it had started bragging earlier. I know that when I first became aware of environmental concerns in the early 1970s, I would have been thrilled to find a cost-competitive brand that was also very green.

Like Marcal, the Swiss cereal company Familia has been using sustainable practices—in this case, buying grains from sustainable farms—for decades. But it was only early in 2010 that I noticed this was finally explained on its packaging.

These are three examples among hundreds.

WHY DO COMPANIES MISS “GREEN MARKETING” OPPORTUNITIES

Why do companies take the time and trouble to do good in the world, and then act like they’re embarrassed about it? Perhaps it’s a matter of corporate humility, not wanting to brag. In some cases, maybe it’s worry about being accused of greenwashing—an accusation that could definitely hurt, but only when the company’s claims are exaggerated, false, or misleading.

In Marcal’s case, it may have started as a legitimate fear that people wouldn’t buy household paper made of other people’s castoffs, even if it was just their sterilized junkmail. In the conformist, status-conscious 1950s, it may not have been seen as a marketing strength, but as a liability. 

But certainly by 1980 if not well before, what we now call Cultural Creatives were a well-established and rapidly growing marketing demographic. As far back as the 2000 publication of their book, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World, Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson estimated that more than a quarter of all adults in the developed countries they studied fell into this category. A quarter of the population!

Greenwashing accusations are easily defused with one simple rule: tell the unspun truth. As for corporate humility, it’s not doing those companies any favors. I see both a bottom-line advantage and a save-the-world benefit to trumpeting an honest green message. On the financial side, you’re able to market much more effectively to that vast market segment.

But even more to the point, you help make the world a better place. Every company that shares its green initiatives publicly shows consumers that there are sustainable alternatives, pressures competitors to also go green, and continues to generate momentum toward a better world.

GREEN MARKETING STRATEGY

Green and regenerative business profitability and marketing strategist and copywriter Shel Horowitz’s mission is to fix crises like catastrophic climate change, pollution, hunger, poverty, racism/othering, and even war—by showing the business world how products and services that fix them can make a profit. An author, international speaker, and TEDx Talker, he will be contributing content to Green Business Bureau regularly. Shel’s award-winning 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, lays out a blueprint for creating, repurposing, and MARKETING those profitable change-making products and services. 

If you’re a Green Business Bureau member, Shel offers you a 10% discount on your first project with him, from $19.50 savings on a one-hour small-business consultation up to a maximum discount of $500 for projects of $5000 or more. He will also expand his standard 15-minute free initial consultation to a full 30 minutes for GBB members. He is happy to help you:

  • Develop or refine your overall positioning, marketing and profitability strategy, and target markets
  • Identify new markets for existing products and services as well as new products and services you can market to your existing base
  • Create individually tailored product-specific or overall marketing plans that harness your strengths and avoid your weaknesses
  • Write marketing materials such as “story-behind-the-story” press releases, web page copy, sales letters, media pitch letters, partnership or JM (joint venture) proposals, articles, LinkedIn profiles, social media posts, even entire books

Book your no-cost initial consultation at https://goingbeyondsustainability.com/contact/ (either call or use the scheduling link). Download excerpts from the book or order your very own copy (autographs available) at https://goingbeyondsustainability.com/guerrilla-marketing-to-heal-the-world/ . Access 11 different freebies including a green/regenerative self-assessment and Shel’s Painless Green ebook of 111 tips to reduce your water and energy use at https://goingbeyondsustainability.com/freebies/ 

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