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Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably

By Chet Dalzell

About Chet

Marketing Sustainably: What's Going on Beyond and Beneath the Green? A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing.

Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of direct marketing. He serves on the Direct Marketing Association Committee on the Environment and Social Responsibility, where he is currently chairman of the Committee's Marketing & Communications Public Outreach Strategy Working Group (2005-present).

Chet co-developed the first professional certificate program in environmentally responsible marketing within the United States. He also served on the United States Postal Service Greening the Mail Task Force (2007-2010), and led its Life Cycle of Mail Subcommittee.

Email Chet below, or reach him at Twitter or LinkedIn.


The Power Punch

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When I first started in this business, I remember that our new business pitch at Ogilvy & Mather Direct always...

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Maybe it all started with AOL Instant Messenger when they were teens. They created acronyms like PIR (parent in room),...

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Is InMail Worth It? 3 Reasons It May Not Be.
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Is InMail worth it? LinkedIn wants you to think so. But is it a good investment for you, in your...

Direct Mail for the Modern Marketer

Summer Gould
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May 14, 2015

The key to effective direct mail is perspective. Perspective is a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a...

Ruthless B-to-B Marketing

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A Case Study in Data-driven B-to-B Customer Acquisition Marketing
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While preparing case studies for my new book, I had the fun of interviewing a bunch of very smart B-to-B...

Reinventing Direct

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Big Data, Small Data, Clean Data, Messy Data

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In this series, I have been emphasizing the importance of statistical modeling in almost every article. While there are plenty...

Psychology-Based Marketing

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It's true. Most consumers suffer from a bad case of dysrationalia which, according to Keith Stanovich, emeritus professor of applied...

IMM-Possible ROI

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Your Secret Weapon for Amplification: Employees!
May 7, 2015

There are sales enablement programs, partner and channel enablement programs and even influencer enablement programs. Why are there then, so...

Keeping Search Profitable

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At a baseball game the other day, I couldn't help but notice how many people in my seating area were...

Brand Matters

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I Dare You: Create a Brand Challenge!
Mar 17, 2015

Challenging something we do quite naturally and easily is indeed the perfect challenge. We all get into ruts—some even good...

The Integrated Email

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Google Announces Significant Changes
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As a marketer who uses email, you know as well as I do, your campaigns do not stand alone. Without...

Mobile-First Marketing

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5 Mobile Marketing Trends You Can't Ignore in 2015
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I don't have to tell you that we are living in a mobile-first world that continues to drive brands to...

Muscle Marketing

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Converting Your Social Media Triple-Fs: Friends, Followers and Fans
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I've heard many gurus, marketers and publishers brag about their social media followers. They'll say things like, "Isn't it great...

Marketing Nuggets

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Much of what I've learned over the years about sales, marketing and customer service has to do with the critical...

Triple Venti Dolce Data...

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So here we are, halfway through 2013. You, along with everyone, are still trying to find that magic formula to...

Who's Your Data?

Rio Longacre
Instagram: Does It Matter That It Will Make Money on Your Pics?
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Aug 11, 2010

Wondering about a SEO content strategy that offers the biggest impact in the shortest time? Try tweaking your page titles....


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Privacy in the Age of Big Data
Jul 10, 2013

Consumers reveal more than ever before consciously through social media and, just as importantly, unconsciously through their behaviors. This data...

The Whole Magilla

Ken Magill
What Marketers Can Learn From Maine's Political Email Idiocy
Feb 24, 2012

It finally happened. Politicians' idiotic email practices had a measurable negative effect. "Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted...

Online Video Marketing Deep Dive

Eve Grey
Are Your Videos Champions of Your Brand?
Feb 3, 2014

If you advertise in an ordinary way, it's safe to expect ordinary results. However, when you take the extreme and...

Think Mobility

Greg Hickman
‘I Can't Because, I Need ... ’
Oct 7, 2013

Does this sound like you? Have you ever set up a goal, but then realized (either quickly or too late)...

Denny Hatch's Blog

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The Internet Can Make You a Chump—Forever!
Sep 25, 2010

Trouble is, the Internet is rife with misinformation and if you get caught advertently or inadvertently propagating this nonsense in...

Mythbusters: Digital, Mail and Green Marketing Payback

In this week's "Marketing Sustainability," I've invited the newly named chair of the Direct Marketing Association Committee on the Environment and Social Responsibility—Adam Freedgood of New York-based Quadriga Art—to share with readers a "myths v. facts" discussion on sustainability and marketing, presented recently at the DMA2012 conference in Las Vegas, NV. —Chet Dalzell

The "Mythbusters" of Discovery Channel's hit show get to blow things up while putting myths to the tests of science. At the Direct Marketing Association's annual marketing conference, I paid tribute to personal heroes Jamie and Adam (the real TV Mythbusters) by blowing up some green marketing myths that have infiltrated both consumer and agency attitudes toward sustainable marketing practice. If left unchecked, today's common green myths can sacrifice campaign integrity, leave profitable sustainability solutions untapped, alienate consumers and contribute to environmental harm. A 30-minute town square session called "Mythbusters: Green Marketing Edition" debunked and discussed a dozen print, digital and multichannel myths, resulting in new opportunities to drive profitability from sustainability of campaign execution.

The troubling truth about green marketing myths is that they appeal to our aspirations and can quickly become ingrained in business practice. For example, "going green costs more," "digital is greener than print," "you can save a tree by not printing this article," and "storing your data in the cloud means fluffy white beams of clean energy will power your campaign data storage, forever."

Marketing missteps can grant mythological status to simple misconceptions virtually overnight. Consider the classic "go green, go paperless." This little beauty appeared out of nowhere and now graces billing statements everywhere. There is no quantifiable environmental benefit attached to the claim, which creates risk to brand integrity. Unsupported green claims violate the Federal Trade Commission's "Green Guides" enacted earlier this year. The "go paperless" phrase subjugates marketing best practice, opting instead for a greedy grab at the small subset of consumers who attach singificant value to a brand's environmental attributes. A direct response mechanism that acknowledges basic consumer preferences would do just fine. 

The evolution of product stewardship regulation, rising resource costs and consumer preferences support the business case for infusing sustainability in all aspects of marketing best practice. The full myth busting presentation is a Jeopardy-style game board rendered interactively in PowerPoint, available to download here.

Here are a few green marketing myths we debunked that offer urgent, profitable insights for print, digital and multichannel marketers:

Myth 1: "Delivering products and services online, or in the cloud, represents a shift toward environmentally friendly communications, compared with print-based media."

Reality: This myth is busted. Digital communications shift the tangible environmental impact of marketing campaigns away from the apparent resource requirements associated with paper, transport and end-of-life impacts of print campaigns. By way of fossil fuel-powered data centers that are largely out of sight and out of mind, digital carries a surprising set of environmental hazards. A September 2012 New York Times article highlights the growing connection between data centers and air pollution due to massive energy requirements and dirty fossil-based power inputs. The digital devices used to create and deliver online content to consumers contain toxic heavy metals and petroleum-based plastics. Electronic devices are too toxic for our landfills but are recycled at an abysmal rate. According to the Electronics Takeback Coalition, the U.S. generates more than 3 million tons of "e-waste" annually but recycles only 15 percent.  

Myth 2: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has struggled to implement comprehensive sustainability strategies due to declining mail volume and the related shortage of revenue available to invest in green activities.

Reality: Myth busted. The USPS is a prime example of an organization that has embraced the business case for sustainability by making extensive investments in greening most aspects of the organization's operations. USPS has applied a "triple bottom line" approach to sustainability—the perspective that investments in green business must perform on dimensions of profitability, environmental sustainability and stakeholder impacts. Through postal facility energy efficiency retrofits and attention to sustainability at all levels of operations, USPS has saved $400 million since 2007, according to its sustainability report. Through some 400 employee green teams, USPS employs a bottom-up approach to sustainability that produces substantial cost and energy savings. 

Myth 3: Green initiatives have a long, three to five year payback period, placing them at odds with other organizational priorities, such as investments in fast-paced digital marketing infrastructure.

Reality: Myth busted. While some sustainability measures, such as building energy efficiency retrofits, carry a payback period of several years depending on finance and incentives, there are innovative approaches to sustainability for direct marketers that yield much faster financial gains. For example, performing a packaging design audit that identifies downsized product packages and renewable materials can produce immediate savings while dramatically reducing environmental impact. Consolidating IT infrastructure and applying best practices in data center efficiency and server virtualization produces fast financial returns for firms operating in-house data centers. Lastly, Innovative programs that engage customers and suppliers in sustainability also produce quick gains with minimal investment. Starbucks's "beta cup" competition mobilized a global audience of packaging designers, students and inventors in search of more sustainable coffee cups. The design submissions confronted a key sustainability issue head-on, allowing the chain to engage stakeholders in the solution.

Adam Freedgood is a sustainable business strategy specialist and director of business development at global nonprofit direct marketing firm Quadriga Art in New York City. Reach him on Twitter @thegreenophobe or email



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