Clear Green Marketing
Visit sinsofgreenwashing.com (most recent report, 2010). Unfortunately, few green claims are sin-free—though a good number are mostly sin-free. My least favorite "green" claim is banks and utilities making "go green, go digital" claims with their efforts to get customers to enroll in electronic bill payment programs. The "paper/print" versus "digital" choice is widely misunderstood—and documentation comparing the world's paper and print lifecycle in use of natural resources to the world's digital infrastructure lifecycle really hasn't been accomplished with definitive gains attributable to one or the other.
To be responsible in multichannel environments, marketers should made responsible sourcing decisions in both their print and digital marketing. Are paper and paper products purchased from sustainable forestry certified sources? Is the energy that runs the data center originate from renewable sources? These are the types of business decisions brands must make when weighing green marketing claims in either print or digital marketing.
Q: Do you feel like companies get a brand/customer "pay off" for being environmentally principled?
What benefit or pay off companies realize for being environmentally principled undoubtedly varies quite a lot. Consumer Reports and others have found that after the primary reward of making better choices and doing a better job, the big payoffs come by eliminating waste and being more efficient. That saves money, considerable money over time. That is why marketing tests go out with specifications that we altered a while back—on lighter paper, in envelopes with open windows, in smaller sizes, with fewer pages. That payoff may not be public, but it gets great reviews in the CFO's office.
In my mind, embracing environmental performance as a bottom-line factor—greater efficiency, less cost, perhaps as a competitive opportunity—is when it makes the most business sense to pursue this path. ... Which means, just about all the time! Earth Days come and go, but sustainability is a 7/365 concern that matters to management, employees, supply chains and customers. It's a journey, not a finish line. And it can be a great motivator for employees when it is recognized and rewarded.