The Green Inkwell


The Green Inkwell & Green Ink Copywriting have moved!

Posted in Copywriting,Green copywriting,green marketing by Anne on July 24, 2010

Thanks for visiting!  I’ve recently combined my blog and company website into a single site (makes sense, no?)

Here’s where you can find more great ideas and resources for promoting your Green or sustainable business:

GreenInkCopywriting.com


Blog Directory List

Want to promote your blog?  A good first step to take is to submit your blog to the blogging directories.  It only takes a minute or two and it will help readers interested in your topics to find you.  Plus, many of them are free!

Here’s a list I recently compiled to get you started:

List of Blog Submission Sites

  1. Best of the Web  http://botw.org/ – highly rated, $75/yr.
  2. Bloggeries http://www.bloggeries.com/ – $39.99 one-time fee, or $59.99 annually for featured links
  3. Eaton Web http://portal.eatonweb.com/ – oldest blog directory on web.  Free for the first two blogs
  4. OnTopList.com http://www.ontoplist.com/– human-edited, free
  5. Technorati http://technorati.com/ – free and essential
  6. Blogged.com http://www.blogged.com/ – free
  7. BlogCatalog  http://www.blogcatalog.com/– free
  8. Globe of Blogs http://www.globeofblogs.com/register.php– free
  9. Liquida http://www.liquida.com/submit_blog.liquida/– free
  10. Bloggapedia http://www.bloggapedia.com/submit.php– free; featured links $49.99/ year
  11. Blogging Fusion http://www.bloggingfusion.com/submit.php – Regular commercial: $12.99 + required backlink; Featured listing: $39.95/year
  12. Blog Listing http://bloglisting.com/addablog.html – free; Featured links $8.99/year
  13. Blog Explosion http://www.blogexplosion.com/signup.php – free
  14. BlogRankings.com http://www.blogrankings.com/ – free
  15. BlogBunch http://www.blogbunch.com/suggest/ – free
  16. Blogflux http://www.blogflux.com/ – free
  17. Bloghub http://www.bloghub.com/ – free
  18. Bloglisting http://www.bloglisting.com/addablog.html – free
  19. BlogIntro http://blogintro.com/submit – $.99
  20. Blogarama http://www.blogarama.com/add-a-site/ – free; featured listing $10 one time fee
  21. BlogPulse http://www.blogpulse.com/submit.html – free
  22. BlogSearch http://www.blog-search.com/blog-submission.html – free
  23. IceRocket http://www.icerocket.com/c?p=ping – free
  24. BlogTopSites http://www.blogtopsites.com/ – free
  25. Blog Universe http://www.bloguniverse.com/suggest-link.php?id=0 – free
  26. Blogz http://www.sarthak.net/blogz/add.php – free
  27. Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/suggest.html – free
  28. Crayon http://www.crayon.net/using/suggest.html – Free; popular-interest (non-local), U.S. blogs only
  29. iBlogBusinessDirectory http://www.iblogbusiness.com/add.html – $9.95; this appears to be a one-time fee but wasn’t really clear
  30. LSBlogs http://www.lsblogs.com/howtosubmit.php – free
  31. Aviva – http://www.avivadirectory.com/submit.php – $149.95 one-time fee or $49.95/ year;  human-edited, accepts quality sites with original content only
  32. RateItAll http://www.rateitall.com/s-4679-blog-directory.aspx – free
  33. ReadABlog http://www.readablog.com/AddFeed.aspx – free
  34. Small Business Blog Directory http://blogsforsmallbusiness.com/directory/add.html – $10 one-time fee
  35. The Weblog Review http://www.theweblogreview.com/submit.php – not currently accepting sites for review but might be worth looking back into at a later date
  36. WillsDomain http://www.wilsdomain.com/submit-site.php – free

Free RSS directories

  1. Chordata http://chordata.info/suggest.php
  2. Plazoo http://www.plazoo.com/en/addrss.asp -
  3. Postami http://www.postami.com/rss_submit_service.php
  4. Pressrader http://www.pressradar.com/suggest.html
  5. RDF Ticker http://www.anse.de/rdfticker/addchannel.php
  6. RSS Network http://www.rss-network.com/submitrss.php

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Kids develop preferences and beliefs through their experiences. You can help your customers do the same.

You know how sometimes kids say the wisest things?

The other day I was down in the basement putting in a load of laundry.  Pretty routine – except I was trying out this new detergent.

Actually it’s not detergent at all, it’s these nut shells that contain soap-like compounds.  You put a few in a little muslin bag and throw it in with your wash, and the clothes come out clean.

Like I said, I was trying it out for the first time.  And I had my doubts.  How could these silly nuts possibly clean a whole load of wash?  But when I unloaded the machine, the clothes smelled sweet and fresh.

“WOW!  These things really WORK!” I exclaimed.

My daughter looked at me in surprise.  “Of course they do!  Why wouldn’t they?

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Her comment stopped me cold.  Indeed – why wouldn’t they work?

I realized that as much as I believe in the need for environmental products, I still struggle with the deeply embedded cultural belief that more technologically “advanced” products will do the job better.

My daughter, on the other hand, has been growing up listening to my lectures (and, I have to admit, sometimes my lip service) about environmental values.  More importantly, for the past eleven years she’s observed my admittedly imperfect striving to live in harmony with Nature.

Clara herself thrived on Nature’s perfect food as an infant.  She was present during the many La Leche League meetings I led, helping other breastfeeding moms nurture their babies as Nature intended, and used to carry her dolls around in her own little organic sling.

She watched as I composted kitchen and garden scraps and returned them to the Earth, enriching our garden soil…then again as the seeds we planted in that soil blossomed into thriving plants…

…and she feasted on the bounty our garden provided – without unnatural chemicals or fossil fuels.

She helped clean our home with vinegar and baking soda, and never picked up the idea that “sqeaky-clean” can only be attained with the help of chemical cleaners.

In the end, she’s internalized it.  Clara has accepted – at a gut level – the power of natural products.

Why?

It’s the power of experience – and of demonstration.

The Power of Experience

Remember the old parenting joke, “Do what I say, not what I do?” It’s funny because we all know it doesn’t work.

In marketing, too, as in parenting, we’ve got to do more than talk about our products.

Did you ever have a Kirby sales rep come to your door?  Sure, they talk about the vacuum cleaner and what it will do for you.  But the real magic in their presentation comes when they dump a bunch of dirt on your carpet and vacuum it up with your own machine – and then throw a filter into the Kirby vac’s hose and suck up a ton of dirt out of the very same spot – thus proving through experience the benefits of owning their product.

Do you think they’d sell nearly as many vacs if all they did was talk?

Not on your life.

Experiencing is believing.  One of the reasons many people still distrust the effectiveness of green products is because they have no experience using them.

In-person demonstrations are an ideal way to dispel doubts about a product.  But it’s not always possible.

Here are a few ways to show (rather than just tell) your prospects just how effective your product is, even if you’re restricted to print or web:

  • Free samples
  • Videos
  • Photographs
  • Diagrams, charts and graphs
  • Testimonials (yes, it’s telling, but it allows your prospect to vicariously share the experience of a satisfied customer.)
  • Stories (again, it’s telling, but storytelling activates the “experience” part of the brain.)
  • Analogy – if you can link your product to something they’re familiar with, you’ll tap in to their already existing experience.

Can you think of any more?  If you can, share them below!

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer who helps Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s weekly tips and insights into Green marketing and sales writing, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

For more information about Soap Nuts and other eco cleaning products, or to find out about a business opportunity that will help you make a living while making a difference, visit Eco4Me.biz.

Meta Tags – Back in Vogue, with a Story to Tell

Surprise!  Meta tags are back in fashion.

According to Richard Gilmore’s  recent post on SiteReference.com, “Your Meta Descriptions Now Affect Your Google Rankings Again,”  Google’s new search procedures make it more important than ever to keep your meta descriptions compelling.

Hopefully you can sit back smugly at this point, saying, “Well, duh!  Of course my meta descriptions are compelling.  They’re the little snippets human searchers use to decide if my site is worth visiting.”

But if you’ve been a little lax about it, it’s time to sit up and take notice.  Maybe you didn’t know that Google searches get personalized to the user.  So if you click on a site several times, it will start coming up higher in search rankings on your computer than it will in a generic search.

This process has been going on for some time for those people logged into their Google accounts.  But now, Google’s shot it up with growth hormones.

Recently, Google switched to storing search data on browser cookies, so everyone gets personalized results whether they’re signed in or not.

Scary?  Maybe.  But as marketers we’d better pay attention.

The human element is more important than ever. That makes the story you tell about your business more important than ever.

Make it a good one, and let is permeate everything about your business.  Including your meta tags.

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

Sustainable Business: A Matter of the Mind

Business man with sledgehammer

It's not just the tool, it's how you use it that counts.

What should a young person do to prepare for a career in sustainability?  John Howley, internationally recognized expert, educator and thought leader on the business of sustainable energy, recently posed this question to a group of green industry professionals on LinkedIn.

Predictably, many of the respondents suggested earning certification in renewable energy and other Green technology.  This reflects a common tendency to equate sustainability with technology.

It’s understandable.  After all, just look around at the world.  The awesome technology our species has developed over the past 200 or so years has enabled us to soar to heights our ancestors could never even have dreamed of.  Unfortunately, it’s also unleashed environmental destruction on a scale even we don’t fully understand.

Mind over Matter

It’s a natural reaction to blame the technology – and to look to alternate technologies to fill in the gap and save us from our own creation.  Solar panels, organic agriculture and the like do indeed hold the promise of a more sustainable approach to living on Planet Earth.

However, the most powerful force for sustainability we have at our disposal is not technology at all.  It’s the human mind.  And it’s our minds, not our technology, which will save – or fail – humanity.

It’s a Matter of Choice

Are you reading this at home?  If you are (or even if you’re not) you probably have access to a somewhat primitive but very useful piece of human technology:  the hammer.  Pick one up if you can.  (Or do so mentally if you can’t.)  Feel its weight in your hand.  You could use this hammer to build a home that can provide shelter and comfort to your family for generations.  Or you could use it to bash someone’s head in.  Same tool.  Same user.  How – and whether – you choose to use it follows from the thoughts in your mind.

We can switch to cleaner technologies.   But without a deep understanding of what is truly sustainable, and a deep desire to get there, what will it mean?  Like the mythical Icarus, we’re likely to keep pushing beyond our limits until we come unglued and fall to earth.

Preserving the Flow

What is sustainability in business but the flow of profits such that the company remains solvent and thriving?  What is sustainability in the world but the flow of life and the conditions it depends on so that the living communities on Earth – including humans – may live and thrive?

Personally, I think in the very near future virtually every career will be – of necessity – a career in sustainability.  We have finally reached the point where we can’t pretend any more that economic sustainability is somehow separate from and independent of ecological sustainability.  The technologies we turn to must then be not only economically viable, but must fit into the natural world in such a way as to support it rather than tear it down.  And that means not only choosing our technologies carefully, but also, like Icarus’s father Daedelus, using them responsibly.

Using our Heads

As marketers and business leaders, of course, this puts us in a hot spot.  After all, it’s our job to get people to buy as much product as possible, right?

Or is it?

Again, let’s use our minds.

Our job is to maximize profits to keep our companies and the economy solvent.   And in the new economy it’s in our best long-term interest to do so in a sustainable manner so the world and future generations also benefit from what we do.  This means we have to work smarter, rather than just mindlessly cranking out more and more product regardless of the consequences.

Here are some ideas for how we can accomplish this:

  1. Be honest with ourselves. Is what we’re doing really viable in the long-term?  If not, how can we start moving in a more sustainable direction?
  2. Educate both ourselves and our customers. True sustainability requires a shift of purpose and a shift of mindset.  It requires us to be far-sighted.
  3. Pay attention to personal relationships and customer service. It’s costly to gain new clients.  The better the relationships you have with your existing customers, the greater your per-capita return – and the more influence you’ll have over their attitudes and future decisions.
  4. Build value. When you can really prove the value of what you offer, you’re less likely to have to lower prices to make the sale.  Being able to command a higher price per item equals greater profits and/or less expense.  And if you’re selling a sustainable product, it places a higher value on sustainability itself.
  5. Use our heads. What business are you really in?  Are there ways you can sell additional services to the same customers?  Can you come up with more efficient ways of doing things?  Remember, few things are more valuable than human ingenuity and good information – and these things can often be sold without harm to the environment.

The physical world is finite.  But there are no limits to human imagination.  And that’s something that can be put to work – and profited from – in any field, technical or not.

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

The Chrome Scrotum

It's not just a motorcycle...

Right after we got married, my husband Dan and I flew out to Oregon with two touring bikes, eight panniers, and as much lightweight camping gear as we could pack in them.  After landing in Portland, we pedaled over the Cascades, dipped our back tires into the Pacific and turned around and headed across America.

You don’t survive 4,000 miles of saddle sores and extreme weather with someone without developing a few inside jokes.  One we got a lot of mileage out of (sorry, can’t resist the pun) was the “third testicle.”

You see, one of the great things about bicycle touring is the silence.  It’s just you and the wind, and the little crunch of gravel under your tires.  You can hear the cows mooing, and the birds singing…

Until some great big hairy guy on a Harley comes roaring out of nowhere, shattering one’s peaceful reverie into a bazillion ear-splitting exhaust-laden slivers.

It’s not like you can’t buy a motorcycle that’s quiet.  It’s like these guys have to prove their manhood with their machines.

Same thing with pickup trucks…

And snowmobiles and 4 wheelers and jet skis…

The Third Testicle

So we jokingly started to refer to anything with souped-up horsepower as a “third testicle.”  Got low testosterone?  Just rev your engine.  Who needs Viagra?

That was almost 17 years ago.  The joke has gradually faded from our repertoire.  But just this morning I saw something which brought it sharply back to mind.  In fact, I almost snorted my beverage up my nose when I saw it.

There , dangling under and a little behind the towing ball on the pickup truck in front of me, was – unmistakably – a scrotum.  Made of chrome.  Swaying realistically side to side with the movement of the vehicle.

It’s that Sex Appeal thing

The guy who bought that pickup truck may have needed a work truck – but just as likely he could have gotten away with a high-milage sedan, saving money on gas as well as the original purchase.   He bought the vehicle that made him feel powerful. He may be just a lackey at work (or even unemployed), his wife might not look up from the TV when he comes in the door, but by golly getting behind the wheel of that truck transforms him into an alpha male.

The quest for power is a natural survival instinct in all animals, including humans.  And it’s tied to biological reality.  In general, the fitter, more powerful you are the easier time you’ll have attracting a mate and passing your genes on to the next generation.

The challenge we face in attempting to replace fossil fuel isn’t just one of replacing infrastructure.  It goes much deeper than that, into the primitive recesses of our brains and egos.   Fossil fuel represents power.  Plain and simple.  There’s something about it that gives us that alpha rush.  (Even I have to admit that as pleased as I am to get 50 mpg driving our diesel Jetta, I also seriously enjoy the car’s powerful, responsive engine that eats up hills and allows me to pass at will, which of course proves my dominance on the road.)  (Sorry, can’t help it.  It’s that primitive brain of mine. )

It has nothing to do with logic.

Logic: Necessary but not Sufficient

Of course, people need logical reasons to buy.   But if we want to convince people to give up their muscle cars, chemical cleaners, and other unsustainable products in favor of our greener, more responsible products, we have to dig deep and figure out what it is they really want, on a primal, animal level  – and then present our offerings in such a way that they light up those hot buttons in people’s heads.

A product like the Tesla Roadster Sport makes the process easy.  With its sleek lines and slam-you-back –in-your-seat acceleration of 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds, it’s just plain sexy.  Only a real Neanderthal would miss the noise and exhaust.

But any product worth bringing to market is bound to resonate with someone’s “hot button.”  (It doesn’t have to be sex, although that’s a powerful one.  It could be security, comfort, pleasure, greed…any of a number of motivations linked to our primal emotions.)

The challenge is twofold: to identify the primal urges that drive our prospects, and to present our products in such a way as to strike that hot button in their soul.

I’ll discuss ways to do the latter in future posts.  In the meantime, though, I have an assignment for you.  Be on the lookout for “chrome scrotums”- telltale clues people unwittingly reveal about their deepest , darkest desires.  Post ‘em below when you discover them!

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

What’s In It for Me? The Importance of the Offer

Posted in Copywriting by Anne on March 19, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

“That ad is driving me nuts,” I remarked at dinner the other night.

My husband was out of town so it was just my kids and me.  The new phone book had arrived earlier in the day, and someone (probably me) had left it face down on the dining room table.  “Why?” asked my son Isaac with a grin.  He knew what was coming.  At 14 ½, he’s deep into the let’s-dissect-reality stage.  Even though he’s not into advertising, he enjoys the process of picking ads apart.

“Because there’s no offer,”  I said.

The ad in question was for a home improvement magazine, and occupied the entire back of the book .  Prime real estate.  Not cheap.  It was eye-catching in its simplicity:  a logo, a tagline, a graphic of the magazine, and – way down at the bottom and contiguous with the border  – a URL.

“What do you mean, ‘offer’?”

“It doesn’t give you a good reason to buy anything,” piped up my daughter Clara.  She’s 11, and loves advertising.  Mostly because she loves to shop.  “Not like the Highlights ads.  They’re always saying, ‘go here, win this, get that.’ It drives me crazy, ’cause I end up wanting everything.

“Right,” I said.  “What if these guys offered a free trial issue, don’t you think they’d get more people going to their website and ordering?  And then they’d have names they could keep selling to.  If their magazine is  any good, a lot of those people would end up buying a subscription.”

“Yeah,” Clara exclaimed.  She was getting excited.  “Or they could have a contest.”

I have to admit, my daughter can be brilliant.

“Oh, yeah!”  I said.  “They could have people sign up for a chance to win a whole year’s subscription.  It would cost less than sending everyone a free issue.  Bet they’d get ten times more people to their site, too.  Heck, I might even sign up.”

Out of curiosity, I visited the site.  And there it was.  Not obvious, but definitely present:  an image of their magazine cover, and in small print on the corner, ”Click Here for your Issue.”

They had an entire issue posted online, for free!  Couldn’t they have mentioned that in the ad?  I clicked.  To my amazement, they didn’t even ask for my contact information.  Just gave it to me.  Some pretty nice stuff, too.  Video, even.

Hey, we just happen to be remodeling our house.  My husband is a real do-it-yourselfer.  (I’m not a bad hand with a cordless drill myself.)  In many ways I’m a prime prospect for these folks.  But the only reason I left the dinner table to visit their site was to take a look at their marketing strategy.  Had I been a normal person, would I have bothered?

Without a stronger incentive than a picture of their pretty covers, not likely.

Pass the potatoes.

Folks, never assume your prospect is going to be interested in you.  Even if you’re perfect for them.  Even if they really, really need you.  It’s up to you to catch their interest and lure then in.  And that means think the way your prospect thinks, not the way you do.

What about your last ad?  Did you give your prospect a real reason to look you up?  Or did you just feature what  you found exciting?  How did your prospects respond?

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

The Ultimate Success Secret

The Ultimate Success Secret book

Success insights from Dan Kennedy, Tom Ribar...and yours truly!

What an honor, to be included in a book – especially one by an amazing individual like Dan Kennedy.

Now, I don’t necessarily subscribe to Dan’s political views.  But like so many others I’m awed by his marketing genius and appreciate his “no-bull,” tell-it-like-it-is style.

I first found out about Dan through one of my clients.  Sean Greeley of Net Profit Explosion, LLC (2008 Glazer-Kennedy Infomarketer of the Year) hired me to go through and refresh a couple year’s worth of newsletter articles.  (They help fitness business owners gain new customers and increase their profits – if you’re in the fit biz, check them out – they’re very good.)

Anyway, as I was going through these articles, I realized, OMG, I’m getting paid to read thousands of dollars worth of incredible marketing advice,  including specific how-to techniques for landing new customers, regaining lost customers, increasing per-customer profits, etc.  Stuff any business owner would give his eye teeth for.  So what if it was written for gyms and pilates studios?  You could adapt this stuff for any business.

Well, Sean kept mentioning this guy called Dan Kennedy.  So I thought I’d check him out for myself.  I subscribed to his “No B.S.” newsletter and joined the Wisconsin  Glazer-Kennedy marketing chapter and mastermind.  And I can’t tell you what an incredible impact he’s had on me, both in terms of growing my business and personal success.

So, I considered it a true honor to be invited to contribute a chapter to a book co-authored by Dan and Wisconsin Glazer-Kennedy chapter leader Tom RibarThe Ultimate Success Secret: Wealth Building and Success Secrets of Wisconsin’s Top Entrepreneurs. The book is an easy read, but don’t be fooled – these two business veterans reveal solid nuggets of success wisdom any entrepreneur would do well to take to heart.

And as an added bonus, the book contains additional chapters by accomplished Wisconsin and Upper Michigan entrepreneus – including yours truly!  (In my chapter I share seven of my favorite secrets to creating sales writing that gets results.)

You can get your own copy of The Ultimate Success Secret: Wealth Building and Success Secrets of Wisconsin’s Top Entrepreneurs here.  It’s a great introduction to the philosophy that made Dan one of the most sought-after copywriters and marketing gurus in the world, and can help anyone become more successful, both in business and in their personal lives.

Even if it isn’t green.

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

Are Your Green Claims FTC Compliant?

FTC seal

It's a good idea to be aware of FTC guidelines when making green claims in your marketing.

In 1992, in response to a flurry of green marketing claims (the first wave of the green deluge we’re now experiencing), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a series of guidelines for environmental advertising and marketing messages.  Known as the “Green Guides,” these rules are strictly voluntary and are not enforceable by law. (Yet.)  However, they are based on Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which declares false or deceptive advertising illegal.  So don’t take them lightly.

If you’d like to read the Green Guides for yourself, you can do so here.

Otherwise, read on for the quick ‘n’ easy Green-Guides-in-a-Nutshell.

For today, let’s take a look at the four main points set forth in the “General Principles” section of the Guides.

1. Qualifications and disclosures: Language addressing green claims should be clear, prominent and understandable.  You should be able to back up any claims with proof.

2. Distinction between benefits of product, package and service: Make sure that if you make a claim for your product, it’s clear whether you’re referring to the product itself or its packaging.  (For instance, when using words like “recycled,” “recyclable” or “compostable”.)

3. Overstatement of environmental attribute: What if your manufacturing facility cut its use of chlorine bleach by 50% last year?  Sounds great, right?  You could get all sorts of great press!  But hang on.  What if your reduction consisted of your janitor using ¼ cup instead of ½ cup a week of the stuff when he cleans the urinals?  Pretty negligible – so button your lips.

4. Comparative claims: When you’re making comparisons you should:

  • Make clear what’s being compared.  Avoid vague statements like “10% less packaging.” It’s meaningless unless you qualify it like this: “10% less packaging than the leading brand,” or this: “New package – 10% less plastic!” (The word “new” makes it clear that you’re comparing it to your own old packaging.)
  • Be able to back up your claims with proof.

Of course, there’s more to it.  For example, the Guides go into far more detail on use of specific words like “refillable” and “ozone-friendly.”   I’d encourage anyone making claims of sustainability or eco-friendliness in their advertising to familiarize themselves with the Green Guides.  But there’s no need to sweat.  The suggestions just make good sense, and echo two of the major principles of green marketing: clarity and transparency.

What do you think?

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

New Report: Green Marketing Brings in the Dough

Green forest

Many direct response marketers report that Green messaging is effective.

How effective is Green marketing, really?

That’s what the authors of Green Marketing: What Works; What Doesn’t – A Marketing Study Of Practitioners asked in a recent study by Watershed Publishing.  The report summarizes the real-life results of Green marketing by the audiences of five industry publications.

Some of the findings were predictable.  For instance, the most popular medium used was overwhelmingly the Internet.  No surprise, since online messages eliminate the need to generate the solid waste associated with print media, and because of the strong growth of online marketing overall.

Does Size make a Difference?

Perhaps it wasn’t particularly surprising that large and small companies (defined as having marketing budgets above $10 million and below $250,000, respectively) displayed differences in their attitudes toward and implementation of Green marketing.  Small companies were more likely to target consumers directly with Green messages, while larger companies tended to direct their Green messages to their own employees.

Smaller companies in general were far more likely to report that their Green marketing was effective.  (Does this have anything to do with the fact that small companies spent an average of 26% of their marketing budget on Green marketing, vs. 6% for the largest (over $50 million) companies?)

The Surprising Results

Other findings surprised even the researchers:

“The indication that green marketing is likely not a fad, frankly, surprised us.  When staff from the various participating publications – especially those hailing from ad agency backgrounds – opted to poke into the subject of green marketing, most felt a certain amount of cynicism, expecting to see similarly cynical opinions among the surveyed marketers. With that in mind, we set up the survey with certain “traps” built into the questions, to see if the industry would reveal the skepticism some of us felt.

That we didn’t see the level of cynicism we expected surprised and intrigued us.”

A respectable 28% of marketers reported that they thought Green marketing was more effective than other types of messages, vs. only 6% who thought it was less effective.

Great Green Returns

But wait – there’s more.  The numbers swing strongly in favor of Green messaging when you ask marketers who are really on top of things – that is, the ones actually bothering to monitor their results by using trackable methods.  Amongst direct-response marketers, a whopping 48% reported their Green marketing had increased response.  Those using the Internet, too, reported that Green messages were more or much more effective (43%.)

And here’s another tidbit that should perk up the ears of any marketer wishing to maximize profits: marketers using trackable methods were also much more likely (42-46%) to believe that consumers would pay more for Green.

Have you tested Green vs. conventional in your marketing messages?  What were your results?

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.

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