Yes, it’s the right thing to do for the planet. Yes, it’s the right thing to do for people. But is it the best thing for profits?
“Yes,” said green marketing guru Shel Horowitz. In fact, he is surprised that business leaders are still debating the value of acting sustainably.
“Just as it’s easier and cheaper to retain existing clients than look for new ones, so is it easier to go green as a way to save and make money,” said Horowitz, a prolific lecturer and blogger based in Massachusetts who has authored several books on green marketing (see image).
Lowering costs by going after low-hanging fruit makes for good business, according to Horowitz. “Johnson Controls and Rocky Mountain Institute spent $13M on a clean energy retrofit for the Empire State Building, but they are saving 33 percent of that sum every year by way of lowered energy costs. Can you think of another investment with as little risk and that rate of return?”
Energy savings? Yes. But why would a money-hungry business owner treat employees and other stakeholders any better than necessary?
“This is very analogous to the selling side. Just as you want your customers to be loyal so do you want loyal employees who are happy and do good work. Just as it costs a lot more to bring in a new customer so does it cost a lot more to bring in a new employee. Plus being able to walk into a work environment that feels good improves productivity. It’s about happiness at work,” said Horowitz.
Horowitz acknowledges that reducing costs and improving productivity are only part of the equation for increasing profits. But, he said, there is good news on the revenue side as well.
“The green market is less price-sensitive than most other markets,” said Horowitz. “People are willing to pay a bit more for a green option.”
The point is that anytime you can justify a higher price – even a slightly higher price – often most of that increase is pure profit, according to Horowitz.
What about the future?
“There is a neutralization of hostility and a movement along the continuum by people who used to be indifferent and are now proactive. I no longer have to fight the battle for perception. We can thank the Earth in part for that. It’s finally exciting to be in the mainstream on this stuff because I’ve been doing it for 40 years,” said Horowitz.
According to Horowitz, the hottest new thing in green marketing is emphasizing zero-waste operations that reuse byproducts. “It saves on waste disposal and the costs of raw materials.”
Horowitz cautioned against false claims aimed at making a quick and easy buck by deceiving customers. “People can really see the transparency of greenwashing. It doesn’t hold up very well to scrutiny.”
Green marketing consultant and copywriter Shel Horowitz specializes in strategies and materials to reach green, socially conscious consumers with marketing that has THEM calling YOU. His latest book is Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green.