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Why cheap marketing costs the earth

The email marketeers among us will know that life's often a battle with open rates and click rates. The upside: if an email performs badly, the only resource that's been wasted is time - and hey, at least you can track what went wrong, and mitigate that in the future. 

But what of the dozens of pamphlets and leaflets thrust through our doors each week? Not only are they regularly unfocused, irrelevant and ineffective... they're damaging the planet to produce. 

In a study, Gaebler, a website for marketeers and entrepreneurs, discovered that the typical response rate for a direct mail campaign was between 1-3%. If you send out 20,000 leaflets, that's a measly 200 responses. And, okay, you might generate some business out of those 200, but you've also got 19,800 leaflets going into landfill somewhere. That's an expensive way to harm the environment.

And direct mail's just the tip of the iceberg.

The same thing goes for the infamous BOGOF, which of course promotes buying for the sake of it, excess, and ultimately wastage. Not to mention the record levels of greenwashing we're seeing today - where brands conjure an image of themselves as green, and eco, but really it's all smoke and mirrors. So, the question is: what can you do? Here's some food for thought...


Green marketing comes from a brand level, not a product level.

It's pretty obvious when a brand's not really a green one. One of the easiest ways to tell is when they bring out an eco product, which sits completely at odds with their other damaging ones. McDonald's, for example, shifted its famous red background for a green one not too long ago, and decided it was high time to make its packaging from recycled materials. Great! But they still use beef from cows who graze in deforested land, and 'bases its entire concept on disposable packing' (Litchfield, 2012). So, you can see that if you want to go green, you've got to think about what your brand stands for first. Once you nail that, your products will slot in to that vision authentically.


Green marketing matters - to the planet AND your customer.

Whether it's green or not, at the end of the day, marketing still has a job to do. That's why green marketing has to sit in line with what your customers' needs and beliefs are as well as yours. This kind of marketing, if done well, will create an emotional connection with your tribe - so ask yourself: What gets my people upset and frustrated with the world, and how can I help?


Green marketing helps your customer feel good.

To put it plainly, being environmentally conscious is your responsibility as a business. It's not the responsibility of the consumer - so when they decide to buy from you, they're going beyond the call of duty. They're (probably) spending more money with you in order to contribute to this greenness, so they've got to feel like they're helping or contributing to a cause. To bang a well-beaten drum, TOMS do this with their One for One stuff.


There are many shades of green.

Back when the idea of buying green came about in the '80s, the marketing around it was pretty one dimensional (Ottoman, 2009), and that's alright for some people. But as time's gone on, thinking green has become more sophisticated, and the demographic has been categorised and sub-categorised. That means you can no longer just 'be green', you've got to spend time understanding what kind of green your customer's looking for. 


Don't let the brown outweigh the green

Many companies are so zealous about going green, they'll do it at any cost. Some common upshots are spending an extra 10,000 air miles to use a greener factory, or opting for a recycled paper that actually uses more hazardous chemicals to produce than regular paper. When you're totally focused on the green, always bring yourself back down to Earth by asking, 'Is this actually better?'

If you'd like to talk more about bringing eco into your business, or for one of our Illumination Sessions, we're always around for a chat.

Thanks for reading,