Green Marketing Strategy in Two Easy Steps
Jun 28, 2011 12:05 PM ET
From Glenn Croston's blog at EcopreneuristBusinesses around the world are infinite in their variety, but there’s one thing they all have in common: they need customers. Even better, profitable customers. Your green business may have a unique level of commitment to sustainability, but you still need customers just like every other business. How do you get them? Here’s how you can connect with the green market in two easy steps. Step #1: Get to know your customers. Study what they think, eat, and value. What do they want in life, and how much will they spend to get it? And make sure you are not just deciding what you want them to think, but finding out what they really want. Surveys are good, and market research is valuable, but sometimes you need to shake your customers hand, sit down and talk with them. Literally. Green marketing surveys often report that 80 or 90% of Americans place sustainability at the top of their shopping list. I’d like to believe this is true. But if you look around it’s a little hard to believe the number is this high. When our shopping cart gets to the checkout line, it is not 90% full of green goods for most of us, not by a long shot. Some people do go out of their way to buy sustainably produced goods, those that Joel Makower calls “The Greenest Americans” in his book Strategies for the Green Economy. This portion of the green market places sustainability right at the top of their value list when shopping, and they’ll even spend more for green goods and services. Unfortunately this part of the green market is not 90% of the people, and is probably closer to 5-10% of Americans. Most of us are still basing our purchases on all of the same influences we always have. We buy things based on their cost, the way they look, and the way they make us feel. The Great Recession and the not-so-great recovery have made people concerned about cost and value more than ever. It’s not that people are opposed to sustainability, but they won’t usually go against all of these other concerns to do it. The green element of what you sell has to fit on top of everything else. Sustainability is the green icing on the cake for most people, but not the whole cake. That first step is a big one. And what’s the second step? Step #2: Let your customers know you. Not everyone knows about you and your green business unfortunately. You might have the coolest green thingamajig around, jam packed with sustainability, but if people don’t know about it they won’t buy it, guaranteed. If they know about it, and see how it fits what they’re looking for, then you’ve got a shot. You’ll need green marketing, green PR, and whatever else it takes to get out the word about your business. Sometimes businesses spend so much time and effort developing their product that they have little left for marketing. Doing free things is a great start, like getting into Facebook, Twitter, and the like, and when I work with clients on green marketing and PR, I encourage them to consider doing a blog, videos, social networking, and any other free activities they have time for, but be prepared to go farther than free. Green marketing can use the same tools as others, building on social networking with Google Ads, website SEO, email campaigns, talking to bloggers, and PR. And keep it up. Tell your story often, everywhere and over and over again and with time and persistence it will pay off. You will know your customers, and they will know you, the start of a beautiful relationship. Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses” and “Starting Green”, providing low cost PR and communication for green businesses at Starting Up Green (www.startingupgreen.com) He knows that times may be tight but everyone still needs to tell their story.