Exploring the Value of Green Marketing

By moosnews
January 20, 2011

Did you know that all websites hosted at FatCow are powered by 100% wind energy? In fact, we’ve created some badges customers can put on their sites that certify their websites are eco-friendly in accordance with a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

FatCow’s Gone Green?
You bet. Granted, we’re a web hosting company; everything’s online. There are no earthly resources to expend … except all that electricity. And so, for the last two years, we’ve been offsetting all of our electricity use with wind-generated Renewal Energy Certificates, becoming a “Green Power Partner” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

These Renewable Energy Certificates prevent the release of 2,660 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year. The estimated yearly benefit to the environment is equivalent to planting ~2,390 acres of trees or not driving 6.1 million miles.

Customer Websites Are Green, Too
You have a choice in where you host your website, and with FatCow, you’re electing to host your site in an eco-friendly data center. If you’re a FatCow customer and you’d like to spread the word, add one of three “green” badges to your site.

Is Green Marketing Effective?
Promoting environmentally friendly products or services can be a double-edged sword; it can be highly effective if done correctly, but it can potentially backfire if done disingenuously.

Until recently, green marketing targeted a niche audience. It slowly gained momentum in the 80s and 90s, but didn’t find a mainstream following until the middle part of last decade. According to a June 2007 article (AdAge), media veteran C.J. Kettler noted that “nine magazine covers came out for the month of April in celebration of Earth Day,” causing her to declare that “the tipping point [for mainstream attention to the green movement] feels like it’s tipped.”

For some, however, the green movement quickly became overexposed, and marketers wishing to capitalize on it seemed disingenuous. In December 2008, Kelly Hlavinka (COLLOQUY) wrote that, “While … environmentally friendly … marketing initiatives [are] admirable, our collective rush to jump on the green-painted bandwagon has a high potential for consumer backlash.”

Ms. Hlavinka even used the same expression as Ms. Kettler, writing that “we’re quickly approaching the green marketing tipping point” — except she meant to say that, just 18 months later, it had begun tipping the other way. In fact, in a newsletter last year, we discussed some of our own recent green initiatives, and while many of you commended our efforts, some of you called it “phony pandering,” and urged us to “leave politics out if it.”

Does this backlash mean that green marketing isn’t effective? Not at all. It simply means that it needs to be done right. As Ms. Hlavinka puts it, the key is finding ways to “build loyalty with your green-minded constituents without appearing desperate or opportunistic.”

Green Marketing Resources
So how can you employ effective green marketing techniques? By learning from others: emulate the success stories, avoid the pitfalls. We’ve put together an eclectic group of green marketing resources, from case studies and expert advice to green WordPress themes:

  • Promote Your Green Website: We’ve experienced a tremendous amount of success with our own green marketing efforts, and we’ve heard from many of our customers who’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback after adding one of our eco-friendly badges to their websites.
  • Install Green WordPress Themes: Give your WordPress site or blog a green makeover; these ten WordPress themes are perfect for green businesses and environmental non-profits.
  • Study History: Just last week, CBC’s radio program, “The Age of Persuasion,” explored the history of green marketing, examining what has worked in the past, as well as what hasn’t. The program is 26 minutes long.
  • Follow Five Simple Rules: Green marketing expert Jacquie Ottman, outlines her five simple rules of green marketing and highlights several case studies that put the “rules” in action, in this five-page .pdf article.
  • Tell a Story: In this September 2010 article, Shannon Arvizu points out that “Most clean tech marketing strategies lack a potent emotional or narrative component. Conventional green marketing [is limited to] facts or statistics … [which] is not necessarily the most effective way of communicating the value of a green product to consumers.”
  • Don’t Forget “Regular” Marketing: In this June 2010 article, Beth Zonis reminds us that “it’s important not to get too carried away with the green-ness … of your offering, at the expense of explaining how well it solves your customer’s needs.”

Tell Us What You Think
Share your stories with us. Is green marketing something that can help your business? Have you had success with it in the past?

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 2:56 pm and is filed under General Moosings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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