10 rules of effective green marketing

Hugh Hough of Green Team has posted the 10 rules of effective green marketing over at the EcoAmerica blog.

This is a terrific list for companies who are just starting to make the move into green marketing. If your business is thinking about becoming green, and how to market yourselves, this is a good place to start.

Here it is:

1. Forget “green.” Okay, you don’t really want to forget it, but you do want to think beyond it. Being environmentally responsible is important, but today’s Awakening Consumers are looking for more. They’re looking at how your brand addresses all three pillars of sustainability: environmental impact, social impact, economic feasibility.

2. Walk before you talk. Don’t make any sustainability claims until you can back them up. Completely. This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how often marketers want to cut corners and make claims they’re not ready to. And that’s a recipe for disaster.

3. Just the facts, ma’am. Don’t tell me what a great corporate citizen you are, tell me what you’re doing, and I’ll make that determination on my own. Simply stating the facts surrounding your sustainability efforts allows you to talk about them without coming across as smug or self-congratulatory. No one likes a show-off.

4. Let someone else tell your story. Nothing is better than a credible third-party endorsement. This is where a partnership with a respected non-profit that shares your values is especially beneficial. Allow your partner to tell the world what you’re doing together.

5. Keep it simple, make it relevant. Your sustainability initiatives should feel like a natural extension of your brand. Several years ago, Green Team did a campaign highlighting Jaguar Car’s partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society to save jaguars in the wild. Jaguar helping jaguars. Its simplicity and relevance made it successful.

6. Look inside. It’s critically important to engage your employees in your sustainability initiatives. With that in mind, look to the people within your own organization for ideas. This is how the partnership between Yoplait yogurt and Susan G. Komen For The Cure came to be. The cause was initially embraced by Yoplait employees on a grass roots level, then ultimately adopted by the brand itself.

7. Money isn’t everything. Sure, financially supporting a sustainability campaign is important, but don’t just write a check and walk away. Look for synergies between your brand and the cause. Involve people on both sides. Involve consumers. Be creative.

8. Tell the truth, the whole truth. Corporate transparency is now the way of the world. Consumers, especially Awakening Consumers, don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be honest. Admit your flaws, and let people know what you’re doing to fix them.

9. Be genuine. Sustainability initiatives and sustainable marketing has to be real and authentic. It needs to be embraced by everyone involved with the brand, from the person who answers the phone to the CEO. It should be part of your brand’s DNA, not some superficial, jumping-on-the-bandwagon gesture. To help avoid this, think long term, and think big.

10. Have fun. We’ve created ads for a global warming campaign that are laugh out loud funny. Humor may not be right for every topic or communication, but how many doom-and-gloom people do you like to hang out with?

Hat-tip to Ivan for the link.

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