Get Ready to Go Green

16 Dec

{reprint from Successful Promotions Volume 117 /December 16, 2015}

cover-story117Get Ready to Go Green

Here’s one reason why your company should go green: A majority of consumers across 60 countries say that they’re willing to pay more for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact, according to a new Nielsen global study of 30,000 consumers. More than half of the respondents say they have purchased at least one product or service in the past six months from an environmentally or socially responsible company.

“Consumers around the world are saying loud and clear that a brand’s social purpose is among the factors that influence purchase decisions,” says Amy Fenton, global leader of public development and sustainability at Nielsen. “This behavior is on the rise and it provides opportunities for meaningful impact on our communities, in addition to helping to grow share for brands.”

Other studies also have shown that companies who promote their environmentally friendly initiatives have experienced an increase in their bottom lines. For example, after implementing eco-friendly practices like recycling and reducing gas use, both Target and Walmart reported a 20% increase in sales.

Want to highlight your company’s eco-consciousness to both employees and consumers? Here are some ideas to get started.
Give out environmentally friendly gifts at company celebrations. Employees and clients love logoed gifts at anniversary parties, celebrations and board meetings. Why not gift them with something environmentally friendly? That’s what executives at Chili’s recently did at their General Managers Conference.

During the conference, Chili’s wanted to show their appreciation to all of the managers’ support teams back home. The conference’s theme was “This is 40: Celebrate the Legacy, Experience Destiny.” With this theme in mind, Chili’s worked with a promotional products distributor and chose plantable seed bombs as their special gift, because it represented the theme of longevity. Chili’s executives got the names and address of nearly 2,000 employees and mailed out the bombs right before the conference so that they would arrive while their managers were away. The bombs, which when planted would sprout beautiful pink and green flowers, included a biodegradable gift tag displaying the conference’s theme and thanking employees for their support. “We wanted a gift that lived past the conference – that would also live on and one that would, in a small way, make the world a better place,” a Chili’s manager said.

Besides giveaways, there are many other ways to tout your company’s eco-friendliness at conferences, trade shows and events. For example, at golf outings, you might switch to eco-friendly golf tees, biodegradable score cards and pencils, and hand out organic cotton T-shirts as prizes. In the boardroom, consider providing eco-friendly pads and pencils.

Get involved in an environmentally friendly cause. Check out what type of activities are going on in your company’s area. Nonprofit groups frequently sponsor events to clean up local parks, hold recycling drives or build awareness for environmentally friendly practices. Contact these groups and see if there are opportunities for sponsorship of events they are planning, and be prepared to give out plenty of green-themed swag to attendees. Can’t find an event to participate in? Check with schools to see if they’re planning a tree-planting event, and bring seeded bookmarks to give out to students who participate in the ceremony.
Be sure to promote your participation in advance via social media and through inexpensive mailings. For example, you might send out invitations for the event on postcards printed on biodegradable seed paper. You should also take lots of pictures of your employees at the event, and post them on the company’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn sites.

Even if you don’t participate in an event that’s open to the public, consider holding a green event celebration for employees at your company. It’s a fact that employees, especially millennials, seek out companies to work for that are environmentally responsible. “Green initiatives are known to improve employee morale and loyalty,” the Nielsen study reported.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable if possible.

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