Show potential customers that you follow green business practices and you could reap more green on your bottom line. Green marketing isn't just a catchphrase; it's a marketing strategy that can help you get more customers and make more money. But only if you do it right.
For green marketing to be effective, you have to do three things; be genuine, educate your customers, and give them the opportunity to participate.
1) Being genuine means that
a) that you are actually doing what you claim to be doing in your green marketing campaign and
b) that the rest of your business policies are consistent with whatever you are doing that's environmentally friendly. Both these conditions have to be met for your business to establish the kind of environmental credentials that will allow a green marketing campaign to succeed.
2) Educating your customers isn't just a matter of letting people know you're doing whatever you're doing to protect the environment, but also a matter of letting them know why it matters. Otherwise, for a significant portion of your target market, it's a case of "So what?" and your green marketing campaign goes nowhere.
3) Giving your customers an opportunity to participate means personalizing the benefits of your environmentally friendly actions, normally through letting the customer take part in positive environmental action.
Let's put the three essential elements of a successful green marketing campaign together by looking at an example.
Suppose that you have decided that your business will no longer use plastic bags to wrap customer purchases. You know that the traditional plastic bag takes about one thousand years to decompose (cbc.ca) and want to do your part to stop the proliferation of plastic bags in landfills. You feel that this is the kind of environmental action that will be popular with potential customers and a good opportunity to do some green marketing.
To be genuine, you have to ensure that none of your business practices contradict your decision not to use plastic bags. What if customers who happen to walk behind your store see an overflowing trash bin filled with paper, cardboard and plastic bottles? Obviously, he or she will decide that you don't care as much about recycling as you say you do in your green marketing.
Not using plastic bags appears to be environmental no-brainer, but you will still need to educate your target market. Did you know that a single use plastic bag takes about one thousand years to decompose? I didn’t until I researched this article and probably a fair number of otherwise environmentally conscious people don't either. This one little factoid about plastic bags could be used as part of your green marketing campaign - all by itself it lets the public know why single use plastic bags are environmentally disastrous and that you and your business care about the environment.
And the third element? By shopping at your store, the customer is taking action to protect the environment by preventing at least one single use plastic bag from going into a landfill. It doesn't sound like much, but he or she gets the satisfaction of physically doing something that fulfills their beliefs. You can also reinforce your customers’ green decisions and increase their participation by offering them additional related actions, such as buying cloth bags to use for future purchases.
Sometimes the best thing to do with a bandwagon is jump on it. You have to walk the talk and actually implement green policies and act in environmentally friendly ways for green marketing to work, but if you do, you've got a powerful selling point with those who are environmentally conscious and want to act to make the world a greener place - a market that's growing exponentially right now.