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

Best practices in green printing: using printed collateral to support your organizational mission

My firm does a fair amount of work for SkyFuel, a solar energy company headquartered in New Mexico.  SkyFuel is a cutting-edge clean technology provider that has been recognized for their pioneering work in the renewable energy space.

SkyFuel needs to disseminate their ideas in printed form at trade shows, investor presentations and other industry events.  When they publish such literature, we have partnered with them to help make these pieces as green as possible, while always watching the bottom line.  For their uncoated items (business cards, letterhead, etc), we use a specific paper from the Mohawk Options line that is 100% post-consumer recycled.

Image courtesy of SkyFuel

Lately, when printing brochures for their various products as well as posters for a recent launch event, the client wanted to use coated paper, especially since the pieces contained images of the sun, so having the paper shine in the light was important.  We worked with the SkyFuel team to choose a stock made by New Leaf Paper that has the highest degree of post-consumer content of any paper on the market.  On all of their coated pieces, the following copy is included in a prominent position: “Printed on New Leaf paper that is FSC-certified and made with 60% post-consumer recycled fiber and processed chlorine free.  Energy used is 100% certified renewable or offset with “green tags.”

SkyFuel is an example of a best-practice leader in their field that leverages printed collateral to support their organizational mission to be good stewards of the environment.  Experience has shown that when a company couples a deep commitment to the environment with marketing pieces that underscore this mission, their message resonates most effectively with key constituents.  SkyFuel also is very transparent about the environmental benefits of their various printed pieces, which makes the green attributes even more tangible for the reader.

Best practices in green printing: quantifying the benefits of going green – part 2

I frequently encourage clients as well as readers of my blog to be transparent about the environmental savings derived from “going green” with their marketing and communications.

My firm works with the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters (MLEV), whose mission is to advocate for sound environmental policies and to elect pro-environmental candidates who will adopt and implement such policies.   They are the state affiliate of the League of Conservation Voters.

MLEV publishes an annual Environmental Scorecard, which serves as a guide to how Massachusetts legislators voted on key environmental issues during the past legislative session (2007-2008).  On page 2 of the attached PDF, MLEV quantifies the environmental savings from having produced their piece using responsible materials, based on calculations from the Environmental Defense Paper Calculator.

In addition, MLEV included several clean and recgonizable eco-logos on the back of the scorecard, underneath their return address on the mail panel.

These two transparent approaches (specific savings calculated and described inside as well as easy-to-understand labels on the outside) serve as a best practice for anyone in the marketing communications space.

Please click here to view a PDF of the scorecard.

Sustainability becomes differentiator for colleges

I read a very interesting article in the Boston Globe last week, which discussed the rising tide of “green” initiatives at colleges and universities across the country.

The article, titled “Not to be out-greened: Colleges grow more Earth-conscious to lure students,” focused on the increasing importance of universities’ environmental stewardship programs to college students, and how they can have an impact on their application decisions.  According to the article, Julian Dautremont-Smith, the associate director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, said, “The current generation of students wants to go to schools that take their environmental responsibility seriously.”

Campus green initiatives have become so mainstream that even The Princeton Review has started rating schools on their respective commitments to the environment.  For more coverage on the Princeton Review survey and commentary on the explosion of green campus initiatives at colleges, please see an article from the most recent Education Life section in the New York Times.

The Education Life section (published Sunday, July 27) had several other articles on green topics that may be of interest to you.  Here’s a link to the section itself.

A key takeaway I had when reading these articles was that even if a school has a sterling commitment to the environment, if it does not clearly communicate its good work to the community it large, the impact on its applications, donations and goodwill generated will be muted.  Therefore, it is critical that schools get the message out to their constituents (through their websites, social networks, and printed marketing materials, among other channels) that they are firmly committed to sustainability.  Whether the printed versions of these materials are made with wind power or printed on post-consumer recycled paper, it is important that these green initiatives are translated onto the printed page.

For more on green printing recommendations, please see a post I wrote earlier this year.

Best practices in green printing: quantifying the benefits of going green

I have written on a number of occasions about the importance of green business practices – both because they are good for the world around us as well as because they can be profit drivers for an organization.

Once an organization has decided to adopt green practices, it is very important that they quantify the benefits to the environment.  In fact, according to Cone, a leading cause branding and marketing agency, the details matter a great deal.  Cone, in collaboration with The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, conducted its 2008 Green Gap Survey, focusing on on consumers’ understanding of and attitudes toward corporate environmental marketing claims.  According to the survey, 70 percent of Americans indicated that quantifying the actual environmental impact influenced their decisions to purchase a product or service that has an environmental benefit.

Therefore, when my firm works with a client to produce a piece of marketing collateral that has environmentally-friendly elements, we strongly encourage them to devote some real estate to the numbers (i.e. when using 100% post-consumer recycled fiber, you can quantify, for example, energy, paper and water saved versus a non-recycled alternative).

A recent example of a best practice in green printing was the annual report for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, which my firm produced.  Inside the back cover, the foundation devoted a half page to the environmental benefits of using a specific Mohawk paper that is made with 100% post-consumer recycled fiber.

Please click here to view the inside back cover of the report.

I have written in the past about resources available to quantify such environmental savings.  One great paper calculator is managed by Environmental Defense, a leading environmental organization.  I prefer it over other alternatives because it is a third-party tool and is not affiliated with the paper industry.  Research has shown that when certifications are independent and transparent, they resonate more with the end user.   Please click here to visit that post.

A focus on green printing

I work with a wide variety of clients to help them design and execute environmentally-friendly marketing campaigns. A principal component of these programs involves print (direct mail, sales literature, annual reports, etc).

Over the last year, I have tried to distill a lot of what I have read and learned into 5 simple steps to “greening” your print projects:

  1. Use renewable energy, such as wind-generated electricity, in the production process – manufacturing of all kinds, including the creation of collateral, requires large amounts of electricity, traditionally produced by fossil fuel-powered generators. The combustion of fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Therefore, one of most effective ways to address the environment with your marketing communications is to produce your materials with renewable energy, specifically wind power. Any number of third-party reports highlight that wind power resonates very well with end consumers. Every time you use wind power to print a marketing piece, you are demonstrating a commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. My company, Grossman Marketing Group, prints with 100% certified wind power, which allows our clients to print our “produced with certified wind power” logo on their collateral at no extra cost to their organizations. Not only does this resonate well with end recipients, but it also creates demand for more wind farms, which will help our country reduce our dependence on foreign oil (please see my previous post on this subject: Looking ahead at the promise of wind power).
  2. Choose papers made with a high degree of post-consumer recycled content – this is probably the best way to make your print pieces green, as using post-consumer fiber is significantly less resource intensive than using virgin fibers. Once you make the commitment to use papers with post-consumer content, it is important to translate the environmental benefits to your constituents. The best paper calculator is managed by Environmental Defense, a leading environmental organization. Here’s a link: http://www.edf.org/papercalculator/
  3. Choose papers with FSC-certified fiber to preserve forest lands – the Forest Stewardship Council certifies that papers came from trees that were planted specifically for paper production. Although FSC-certified papers may come from virgin fibers, FSC is a good stamp of approval for a printed piece (although unlike renewable energy, most end consumers do not know what FSC means, and thus it does not generally resonate well)
  4. Choose papers made with process chlorine free (PCF) or elemental chlorine free (ECF) pulps – when paper is bleached with elemental chlorine, there can be harmful byproducts. Therefore, some paper manufacturers, notably Mohawk, have made great strides to reduce the amount of chlorine used in the bleaching process. For more information, please visit the following link on Mohawk’s site: http://www.mohawkpaper.com/environment/water/chlorine-free-pulp/
  5. Use vegetable-based inksSoy inks (or, most accurately “Soy-based inks”) are made almost identically to regular printing inks, with the substitution of vegetable oil (predominately soybean oil) for traditional petroleum-based oil. Ink is composed of approximately 35% oil (varies a bit from ink to ink), so when referring to soy-based inks, that is the approximate percentage you should cite. Therefore, when using vegetable-based inks, you know that you are reducing the demand for petroleum-based products, and using oil products that almost certainly have been refined in the United States. The remaining 65% of ink, whether soy-based or traditional, is made up of waxes and resins (which hold the ink together), dryers (which enable the ink to dry), and pigments (which give ink the color).