Preview: BrightTALK Green Marketing Summit

brighttalk_logo_blackgreen_medI was flattered to be invited to present to the BrightTALK Green Marketing Summit tomorrow (Friday, 4/24).  BrightTALK is aiming to become the “YouTube for Business,” meaning they arrange targeted meetings/summits online and then store the webcasts so people can watch them in the future (upon registration).

According to the BrightTALK site, “This summit will help companies leverage the growing interest of consumers in purchasing products and services from companies with strong ‘green’ messages through understanding the need to develop a green marketing strategy. Summit attendees will gain insight from companies who have implemented successful green marketing initiatives and improve their understanding of why going green will help build a strong brand connection with their target audience.”

The summit will include representatives from companies like Intel and HP, as well as green marketing experts like Joel Makower, who runs GreenBiz, among other ventures.

My session, scheduled for 4 pm EST, is titled: Green Marketing: Bridging Theory & Practice – A Guide to Making Your Direct Marketing Efforts More Sustainable. To attend the summit, please click here.

Here’s a brief abstract on my talk from the BrightTALK site: “Please join Ben Grossman, Director of Grossman Marketing Group’s Green Marketing & Sustainability Practice, to learn about the latest trends in green marketing.  Specifically, Ben will discuss how the green movement is having an impact on communications, and will highlight ways to make your organization’s direct marketing efforts more sustainable and relevant to your constituents.  He will highlight creative ways that he and his colleagues have helped organizations like ZipCar, J.P. Morgan and the National Park Foundation, leverage green marketing techniques without adding any extra cost to the bottom line.”

There will be a live Q&A session, so I will be back with a full report over the next several days.

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Grossman Marketing wins green business award from Boston Business Journal

The Green Business Summit will be held on Friday, May 15, 2009.

The Green Business Summit will be held on Friday, May 15, 2009.

We at Grossman Marketing Group were honored and humbled this afternoon to learn that we are one of this year’s recipients of a Boston Business Journal green business award.  The award will be presented at this year’s Green Business Summit, scheduled for Friday, May 15, at 7 am at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

We were included in the “Innovation” category, and recognized for our work in the green marketing and sustainability space.  We are especially grateful to our client, Zipcar, for nominating us for the award.

Below please find the full list of winners:

Invention:

Workplace:

Innovation:

Design:

Here’s a link to learn more about the event program as well as to register.

Snapshot: Environmental League of Massachusetts Corporate Council meeting with Governor Patrick

elm_with_wordingAs a member of the Environmental League of Massachusetts Corporate Council, I had the privilege of participating in a private meeting with Governor Patrick and his environmental team last Friday to discuss a wide range of issues.

I was struck by the willingness, openness and accessibility of the Governor and his Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Ian Bowles, to new, fresh and bold ideas, and their commitment to making Massachusetts a state in which there will be incentives, rewards and opportunities for companies and organizations to do the right thing from an environmental standpoint.

I was especially encouraged, despite the tough economic times, by the Governor’s commitment to make the necessary investments to enable Massachusetts to become a national and international “green” hub for sustainability, cleantech and other environmental innovations.

Here’s a list of the other members of the corporate council (in addition to Grossman Marketing Group):

To read more about the council:

  1. Please see the December 2008 Boston Globe article
  2. Please see the council’s member page on the ELM site

Key findings from Direct Marketing Going Green panel

875191As I wrote before, I was on a panel titled “DM Going Green – Separating Fact and Fiction” on January 13.  The session, which was organized by the New England Direct Marketing Association, was interesting and the conversation was lively.

Floyd Kemske, who serves as Editor of NEDMA News and Creative Director at Amergent, wrote up a nice summary from the event.  As it is not online yet, I’m pleased to include select portions of the piece below:

****From NEDMA News****
The session, moderated by Mariah Hunt, Senior Production Manager at Digitas, featured four practitioners from the front lines of the campaign for industry sustainability.

Each panelist provided a unique perspective on sustainability, its achievability, and its benefits. Ben Grossman, Director, Green Marketing & Sustainability Practice, Grossman Marketing Group , for example, has been instrumental in developing a model program for his company, which offsets 100% of its energy use through an organization called Renewable Choice Energy. This allows Grossman Marketing’s customers to credibly claim they make their printed collateral with certified wind power. In addition, Grossman has replaced petroleum-based window material in its window envelopes with corn-based material, which is both compostable and recyclable. Although the corn-based windows cost more, Grossman said, the company absorbs the premium so its customers pay the same as if they’d bought the petroleum-based ones.

According to Grossman, the company’s sustainability practices confer benefits in terms of increased sales, reduced costs, and more productive recruitment. But he advised the audience that sustainability isn’t something you can just say you do. “Customers are smart,” he said, “and they are conversant with the issues. They can discern a real commitment.” Transparency is important, he said. “Give people a way to dig down and investigate.” If you work at it and you are sincere, he said, you can use sustainability as a competitive advantage.

Mary McCormick, Senior Account Manager, Neenah Paper Inc., said her company was committed to manufacturing products with high post-consumer waste content, FSC-certification, and reduced carbon footprint. Before delving into some of the technical aspects of sustainable paper manufacture, she may have confirmed Grossman’s assertion about competitive advantage when she noted that the invitation for President Obama’s inauguration was printed on Neenah paper, chosen because of the company’s sustainability practices.

FSC certification, which is the premier paper certification standard, guarantees a chain of custody for pulp products from the harvest site to the finished product. It doesn’t simply guarantee sustainability. It also addresses social issues (e.g., rights of indigenous peoples) and forest recovery as well. Neenah’s website offers a calculator you can use to find the environmental savings you will achieve by using FSC papers. Neenah has also developed no-new-tree papers, including one manufactured from sugar cane bagasse.

The panel presentations were followed by a lively discussion in which some members of the audience sought proof that sustainability practices could increase sales. None of the panelists could cite such proof, but Ben Grossman stepped up and said that if anyone in the room wanted to conduct a test to determine whether a legitimate green logo would boost response to a mailing, his company was willing to subsidize it. There’s a man who backs up his belief in sustainability!

EPA Revises Green Power Partnership Program Requirement

gpp_logo180I was glad to see that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised its Green Power Partnership program requirements last weekThe Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages the use of renewable energy in the United States.

My firm was chosen to be a Green Power Partner in 2008 because we offset 100% of our energy with Green-e certified wind power – we have continued the initiative and have gotten a number of our suppliers to join our consortium (we work with Renewable Choice Energy).
Below are the notable changes:

  1. Minimum purchase percentages have risen for an organization to be able to be included in the program
  2. Program requires purchase of new renewable energy, rather than from existing sources.  As the announcement stated, “The Partnership’s primary objective is to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the U.S. power sector by increasing renewable energy supply.”
  3. Window for making an initial green power purchase has tightened – new partners will only have 6 months (rather than the previously-allowed 12) to make an initial purchase.  I like this change because companies won’t be able to market their involvement in the program without making the necessary investment in renewable energy…if it were up to me, I would shorten the window even further.

These are encouraging changes, as participating companies will now have to make more substantial investments in new energy sources in a shorter timeframe, helping to weed out the types of companies that join to make the minimum investment possible for the purposes of greenwashing.

News roundup – it’s about the wind

As I have written in the past, renewable energy is critical to our nation’s future – not only from a carbon emissions perspective but also for national security reasons.

My firm’s adoption of and support for renewable energy (we offset 100% of our energy with Green-e certified wind power through Renewable Choice, the firm that both Whole Foods and Burt’s Bees work with to offset their energy usage) has enabled us to offer products and services to our clients that have helped them support the environment, without adding any extra cost to their respective bottom lines.  Because my firm made the commitment more than two years ago to absorb the additional cost of these wind power credits, we have been able to grow our business in turbulent times and attract new and progressive clients.

I am pleased to share two exciting news pieces:

  1. A PDF of an article published last month by the American Marketing Association’s Marketing News magazine (a live link is not yet available).  The staff collected a range of good and bad marketing campaigns from 2008 and asked various marketing professionals to chime in.  They asked me to comment on the marketing of T. Boone Pickens’ wind power initiative (which is now on hold due to economic concerns) – the news brief is on page 1 of the attachment.
  2. An article in The Somerville News (a newspaper in my company’s home market) about recent successes my family firm has had as a result of our green initiatives (one correction I need to make is that the reporter spoke with my brother, David, but refers to him as Steve, who is my father and president of the company).

In this increasingly difficult business climate, I can certainly attest to the importance of corporate sustainability and social responsibility programs as a means of differentiation from one’s competition (not to mention the right thing to do!).  Although organizations are looking harder for lower prices than they have ever done before, they are also very much interested in working with a partner who they respect and can learn from.  If your company does not have sustainability initiatives in place now, I implore you to start thinking about them.  Not only can they help you generate interest from prospective clients, but they can also help you save money (on energy, water, etc) – which is now more important than ever.

Boston Business Journal article on my firm – It pays to be green

flagThe Boston Business Journal has been publishing quick focus pieces on specific Boston-area businesses and the efforts they are taking to remain resilient during the recession.  My firm was pleased to be spotlighted.  Below is the article that appears in the Friday, 1/9/09 edition of the newspaper (I am also including a link):

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Marketer: It pays to be green

Grossman Marketing Group plans to focus its sales pitch on companies looking to be — and save — green.

That is because most businesses do not believe that using environmentally friendly marketing products can actually be cheaper than traditional marketing materials, said Steve Grossman, president of Grossman Marketing.

“Most people still have a hard time getting around the fact that green products can be cost-comparable,” Grossman said. “We want to lead more aggressively the no-extra-cost factor.”

Overall, the 100-year old print and marketing-materials company hopes its green push will stave off the effects of the recession, as direct-mail spending has dropped off considerably during past downturns. Envelope and direct mail makes up about 40 percent of Grossman Marketing’s business and grew nearly 20 percent in 2007.

The company also plans to step up the consulting services offered by the business, providing sustainability and marketing advice to its clients at no charge.

“It strengthens the relationship with our customers. They see us as their partners to advance their sustainability initiatives, but also, especially in the short term, to reduce their cost basis,” Grossman said.

Growing the green marketing business is just one part of Grossman’s three-pronged strategy for this year. With its recent investment in Consolidated Marketing Solutions Inc. of Massachusetts, based in Wilmington, Grossman Marketing is stepping into the online branding and marketing business.

“They want to do business with like-minded companies,” Grossman said.

— Jackie Noblett

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Here’s a link to the article: http://boston.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2009/01/12/story14.html