One of the most effective ways to go green is to consider the potential environmental impact of your printed material at the design stage. That means taking into consideration things such as paper weight, item size, and mailing format at the beginning. A smaller, lighter piece will not only reduce the amount of paper you ultimately use, but also the emissions of the trucks delivering your pieces. Self-mailers eliminate the need for envelopes. And, of course, always use both sides of the paper.
Choose the Right Paper
Re-design leads us to the importance of making the right paper choice. To produce a more sustainable printed piece, look for a minimum of 30% post-consumer content that is processed chlorine free. Ideally choose paper that has been certified. Avoid using add-ons that might make it difficult for consumers to recycle your piece, such as coatings, metallic embossing, or inks containing heavy metals.
Select the Right Printer
Select printers that practice sustainability. Look for providers that use Energy Star printers and copiers; soy- or vegetable-based or recycled, filtered inks; and solvents free of toluene and methylene chloride. Check to make sure they use alcohol-free printing processes. Ideally, look for printers that employ green practices throughout their plant, such as a comprehensive recycling program, energy and water efficiencies, and purchase of renewable fuels.
Clean Up Your Mailing List
You can save money and reduce paper use and delivery impacts simply by cleaning up and reducing the size of your mailing list. Software and mailing services provide tools that remove undeliverable addresses, duplicates, or fix those with missing fields, thereby saving resources. Also regularly check with your customers for address changes and personnel updates. Finally make it easy for your customers to opt out of your mailing list or to receive notices electronically instead.
Be Electronic Savvy
Until this point, we have assumed that mailings compose a substantial part of your marketing efforts. This fact remains true for the vast majority of businesses that aren’t effectively using the Internet to reach their target audience. Yet research has shown that organizations that micro-target their online efforts often see a high rate of return. To micro-target your customers, identify the most targeted online publishers, websites, blogs, and email newsletters. Many will offer advertising on their websites or in their email newsletters, which reach thousands of people at a fraction of the cost of traditional media. Or do it for free by writing articles or news items, or by posting comments to blogs or list serves.
Send Effective Emails
Despite spam, statistics show that email remains an excellent way to build relationships with your customers and promote events and products. Build a solid email list of your customers that you can also break down into specific audience segments to better target your message. Ensure that your list is permission-based and that any email you send out has a prominent opt-out link. Include only the highest quality content and provide value to your target audience with minimal self-promotion.
Leverage Your Website
Make sure to design the landing page of your website with your promotion in mind. Whatever Internet marketing strategy you use, be sure that the page that brings visitors to your website is designed specifically for them and clearly highlights what you are promoting. The page should be simple and easy to read. It should highlight the value to the customer of the product, service, or event and outline why your organization is the right one to deliver it to them. Also make sure it’s clear how visitors can gather additional information, including how to contact you. Don’t forget to post every document you can rather than mail it.
Use Online PR
Press releases are not just for the press anymore. With online distribution channels, like PR Web and PR Newswire, you can use news releases to reach your customers directly. Always be sure to write press releases in a way that targets your customers, including making a compelling offer that gets them to react in some way, such as by directing to your website. Also make sure to optimize your news release for searching and browsing by including keyword-rich copy. Do not wait to send out a press release only when you have big news, look for reasons to distribute them regularly.
Have a Plan
In moving to a greener marketing plan, it’s important to put something in writing. It doesn’t need to be complicated or lengthy, but you should outline the steps you need to take to ensure effective execution of your overall marketing strategy. Overtime, you will add new tools and ideas to your plan and will remove those that do not work for your organization.
(Source: Making Science Matter: Top 10 Tips for Greening Your Marketing, 2011)