green marketing best practicesHigh-profile leaders gathered to discuss opportunities in the world of environmental capital at the Eco:nomics Conference, and the identify what the best practices where when applying green marketing.  The include: looking for the “low-hanging fruit” for quicker ROI, giving customers reasons to adopt environmentally responsible behaviors, making the message personal by explaining how a consumer’s purchase has direct environmental results, and avoiding a hard sell on environmental benefits.

by Sofia Ribeiro, Founder and co-owner of Kiwano Marketing

The Eco:nomics Conference, one of the most popular conferences in the green industry, took place a few weeks ago in Santa Barbara, California. High-profile leaders from Walt Disney, RecycleBank, Yale, GE and The Climate Group, as well as Wall Street Journal’s editors, got together to talk about the real risks and opportunities in the fast-changing world of environmental capital.

One of the topics discussed was green marketing and best practices. These were the main outcomes:

What works

– Companies should focus on improving their own energy efficiency, while emphasizing benefits to local communities. Look for the “low-hanging fruit” for quicker ROI.

– Companies should give customers reasons to adopt environmentally responsible behaviours.

– When it comes to green marketing, provide information about a product’s environmental benefits close to the point of purchase. Make the message personal by explaining how a consumer’s purchase has direct environmental results.

– When providing information to stakeholders, avoid a hard sell on environmental benefits. Instead, engage stakeholders in a dialogue.

– In green marketing, explain the benefits to the environment as part of a bigger value proposition.

– Consider how waste can be an opportunity, not a cost or liability.

– Get a double whammy by undertaking a project that will boost productivity at the same time as cutting emissions.

– When working with nongovernmental organizations, there must be a shared understanding of the goals and constraints of a partnership, with both sides understanding and respecting the rules of engagement.

– To get a project off the ground, consider new forms of financing, both public and private. For instance, it is possible to add solar panels at no upfront cost using a power purchase agreement (PPA).

What doesn’t work

– Participants suggested that the government should not be put in a position “to pick winners and losers” for any technology or business process. Instead, the government should help develop technology-neutral standards.

– Companies cannot use uncertainty over government action on climate change as an excuse to stop innovating.

– Firms cannot simply talk about being green. Sustainability must become part of a company’s DNA.

– Avoid politicizing sustainability. Instead, explain the economics behind adopting energy efficiency and reducing environmental impacts.

– When working with nongovernmental organizations, do not strike a deal that has no substance. Be sure to carefully consider the people and resource needs of a partnership.

– For best results when financing energy efficiency or other environmental projects, the market requires more certainty in government policy.

Are there any green marketing practices that you’ve seen working that are not featured in this article? Share your thoughts below.

© 2010, Sofia_Ribeiro. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Sofia_Ribeiro (13 Articles)

Sofia Ribeiro is the founder and co-owner of Kiwano Marketing, a green marketing services provider dedicated to support small, sustainable businesses. An experienced marketing professional and a green enthusiast, Sofia has an extensive marketing background across both small businesses and large enterprises throughout Europe and North America. Her expertise lays in guerrilla marketing and Internet marketing techniques, paired with a solid experience in copywriting and industry research. Sofia also manages a green marketing blog at http://www.kiwano.ca/blog.

  • http://www.greenmarketing.com Jacquelyn Ottman

    Two additional best practices: transparency, authenticity and empowerment. Being transparent about ingredients, formula, relationships with third parties etc. underscore credibility. Make sure that green marketing efforts reflect what your brand is all about — not tacked on. Green marketing is nothing if not about empowerment—consumers want to feel they can make a difference as one consumer or in concert with all the other consumers of that product.

    • http://www.kiwano.ca Sofia Ribeiro

      Hi Jacquelyn,

      Great comment!
      Without transparency and authenticity, companies are running the risk of being labelled as greenwashers. I’ve discovered that what works the best is to be honest on your efforts to become environmentally sustainable, especially on what you’re trying to accomplish (it’s easy to brag about what the company has done so far, but what about all the other areas where there’s still work to be done?)

      Thanks for your comment.