This is a quickly edited version of one of our email replies to someone's question. They work for a Mid West Regional Bank and wanted to know how to advertise "Green."
About that green question... I normally limit questions to strictly 'advertising' (which is a task), and don't wander very far into 'marketing' (which is decision making/management stuff). Green is somewhere in between. What I would suggest is looking through your product offerings with one of your VPs and find some stories in your existing product line that have helped people adopt a real life green practice. Since financial products aren't a green practice, show your products accomplishing things green for real people and tell that story separately. Quick hint: berm and log homes are weatherization to reduce use, but solar conversions and wind power are co-generation to make power on site. Co-generation is a much stronger 'green' story. Do NOT market 'green' to women. Women already get it. A Guy in a hard hat is probably the strongest image to have next to a message about using your products to accomplish something green. Local contractors that specialize in this work should know your bankers.
Weatherization products are about cost savings, but there is an easy "feel-good" green element. If you want to get some real traction for your loan products: show your viewers the money. Saving money sells, and green feels good. The smart move is to let you customers have both--but sell it on the financial merit. Show them some figures about dollar savings BUT include some info about the reduction in carbon footprint. First let them know that your product is excellent and will save them real money, then let them feel good that there is a green benefit. "We got this great loan that let us buy insulation and efficiency windows, and then... Gosh, we found out we saved the planet!"
If your company is feeling like there is strong enough interest in your area, they might even re-brand some products so that they can be marketed specifically as green. "Special" Loan products for Solar Panels and Windmills might even get you in the news if you find a way to get the new loan programs 'endorsed' by a local government or even organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce. Your board looks pretty well qualified to get you plugged in with some folks outside the bank to promote some community/goodwill kind of efforts by making them newsworthy. The task is to get news attention for the new green project but keep some attention on the loan program that made the project possible. All news organizations have people that have to come up with human interest stories. Greening homes and businesses can let them punch their ticket for this week's article or broadcast. You get to call it PR, they call it news.
Congrats on the new job. Hope these ideas are helpful for you!
First of all, if you really aren't doing something in a sustainable way--don't call it green. People see right through it. So called "greening" and sustainability are usually a practice, a thing that you do. But Green can also be an attribute and many small businesses are a great fit. Repair businesses, for instance, are strong candidates: they make things continue their function without using the resources of manufacturing a new one. Yup. That's green.The following is a quick demo of how NeighborWave works developing advertising messages (well, that is part of what we do here.)
If you ARE a green company and need advertising help, get in touch. We are committed, principled, effective and affordable. How committed? The founder of this company does not drive a car.
Below is a very rough draft that samples some green advertising themes. What our copywriter did was write some green advertising text that sounds a little like the talk that we hear from organizations that promote green alternatives. Seriously--we don't think that this first text is very good. Again, NOT good--but we see businesses try to use advertising messages just like these all the time.
Oddly enough, the US Postal Service has a beautiful tool for developing some of your own own green practices. What is it? Zip Codes. Spending your money, investing your time and developing connections and business relationships in your own zip code is a simple and effective green practice. It reduces carbon footprint by reducing driving and this simple choice encourages the local sourcing of goods when possible. Also, it sustains your own economic environment- what benefit is there for you as a consumer when the profit portion of your purchases leaves your neighborhood?
The above paragraph is a fairly standard message talking to a consumer about some benefits in shopping local as part of their personal green strategy. It's an attempt to persuade behavior generally. But a local green business needs to sell stuff. No sales equals the end of your green business. Here's a simple advertising example where instead we leverage two statements for better SALES effect:
Lowest Price Anywhere ...and Certified GREEN!
Locally Made... ZERO shipping equals ZERO carbon footprint!
These are fairly clumsy examples of developing an advertising message-- and that is exactly what we do. We get Clumsy? No, we develop green advertising messages. In this case, we are working with a headline and we tell someone what they will get. Instead of the green advertising message we leverage your green attributes to make what you already sell more attractive. Paying the lowest price AND getting the good feelings that come from knowing it's green- who wouldn't buy that?
Can you fake this while you work out a Green Strategy? Absolutely not.
The bold text above is just a simple headline advertising example, but it illustrates how NeighborWave can help you develop better advertising messages. We really want your green business to succeed--as a business! And this is just a headline-- websites and brochures can really take advantage of longer texts like the paragraph above. Since you are in fact reading the 93rd paragraph on this page, why not send us an email-- even if you disagree and think that longer texts are bad. What we know is that any thought by you of contacting us means that our own advertising is working. Green advertising? Sure! And we make it work better.
We do, too! But we're pretty unhappy with most "me too" green advertising messages and don't even get us started about big companies. So called Green is part of the reason why we specialize in advertising for locally owned, locally operated small businesses. Local business is inherently more green and will probably be our culture's path back to true local sourcing of goods. Our own green credentials are pretty decent: our founder has chosen to give up driving (except for his 92 yr old Aunt Charlotte) Also, the company local sources everything that's possible.
For general advice about green advertising, here's the scoop: If it ain't simple, nothing will happen. If it isn't really true, then that makes you a big fibber! Zero Paper is the best tactic to advertise using a Green practice. That means get better at using the web. End of story.
Let's not forget that most green practices are actually about making things work better using sustainable practices. Can you see how local sources are a delicious fit here? Something that we all see frequently is the use of green as a branding element. We find this disappointing, and here's why: Green is not an alternative-to-mainstream brand that justifies higher prices. NeighborWave is looking to support real businesses who ARE green by their nature and happen to use green advertising efforts, not just upscale marketing. So, in the interest of getting better at marketing, let's look at how you can use "what you get" informational advertising to speak to conscious and not-so-conscious consumers.
Oh, and Kevin told us to tell you all to quit driving. And turn your printer off when you're at lunch.