The Sign Connection: Develop an Effective Green Marketing Strategy

It’s not difficult to find green-conscious customers these days, but it can be very difficult to capture their business on that basis without a solid marketing strategy targeted to their interest. To effectively acquire leads and translate prospects into sales requires that you provide a focus on demonstrable eco-friendly benefits and live up to your claims as a green business.

First make sure you’re not vulnerable to the accusation of “greenwashing.” Nothing will thwart your green marketing strategy faster than distributing a product that doesn’t live up to your claims. The 2011 Trend Tracker study by Cone, Inc. reveals that Americans value honesty over perfection in environmental marketing, and 71 percent said they would stop buying a product if they felt misled by environmental claims.

Although eco-friendly signage products have improved tremendously, none of them are perfect. And here the study produces some good news: 75 percent said it’s OK if a company isn’t environmentally perfect, as long as it’s honest and transparent about its efforts. Clearly, you should be prepared to back up your marketing claims with documentation that explains how your solutions qualify as “green.”

How important is certification? In Cone’s Trend Tracker study, 51 percent chose products that carried a seal of certification. Never mind that it was a mock seal—more than half of them believed the seal mattered. But don’t get the idea that you can fake certification. Remember that 71 percent said they’d stop dealing with a company that misled them. Worse, 37 percent said they’d boycott a company that fibbed about the eco-friendliness of their offerings.

Most manufacturers are providing at least some information about why and how their products are more or less green. Also, look for independent third party green certification such as Energy Star, Green Seal, Green-e organizations that offer green certification. All of these organizations provide a seal or logo that can be used in your marketing for a product they’ve certified.

In addition to outside certifications, Signs Now has also developed in-house “green” support programs to ensure that our owners remain at the top of their game in eco-friendly solutions. We launched the Signs Now Green Initiative in 2009, a program that not only incorporates environmentally friendly products and processes into daily business, but includes recommendations and guidelines for recycled and repurposed materials to build environmentally conscious systems.

In addition, last summer we announced the adoption of the HP L25500 60-inch DesignJet printer for all new franchise locations. The L25500 utilizes HP’s Latex Ink technology and was chosen for exceptional print quality and the lack of VOC Emissions found in other equipment.


Shine Your Light

Paradoxically, as interest in green business increases, there’s growing confusion among consumers about what many common marketing claims such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” actually mean. “More than two-in-five Americans (41 percent) erroneously believe these terms mean a product has a positive impact on the environment. Only 29 percent understand that these terms more accurately describe products with less environmental impact than previous versions or competing products,” reports Cone, Inc.

But at the same time, 75 percent say they wish companies would do a better job helping them understand the environmental terms they use. Those desires contain the seeds of a powerful marketing strategy. Providing the documentation your customers seek and making the effort to educate your team and prepare them to explain the degree and benefits of the “green” solutions you offer, will position you as the green “go-to” experts in your local marketing area.