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:





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!

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.

Grassroots is the way to go: a look at GoGreen Somerville

ggsom_web_header_resize_new1My firm has become involved over the last several months with GoGreen Somerville, a coalition of businesses and non-profit organizations that leverage relationships, knowledge, and resources to green the Somerville businesses community.  I wrote a bit about this organization in May when it got a positive write-up in the Boston Globe.

GoGreen Somerville, where my firm is headquartered, is run by Vanessa Rule, who is very impressive.  She is motivated, talented and knowledgeable, an excellent combination.  I was excited to get involved in this effort, especially because it is on the grassroots level.  By building a laboratory of sustainability in our home city, this organization can possibly create a scalable model for helping other markets become more environmentally responsible.

Also exciting is that it includes a broad coalition of businesses: including bakeries, food manufacturers (chocolate), as well as a cleantech engineering firm and a wind power specialist.  It is a testament to the depth and breadth of talent in a small city that such best-in-class organizations spanning a wide range of industries have volunteered their time and resources to help make our city a more sustainable one.  It’s important to note is that if Somerville can become a case study for good environmental stewardship, it will help attract investment, new businesses, and talent; not to mention make it a better place to live and work.

I’m sure I’ll write more about this effort down the line, but I wanted to share this today, as GoGreen Somerville just launched its new website.

Video of my Harvard Green Marketing lecture available online

I wrote on this blog earlier this year that I was to give a lecture on green marketing to members of Harvard Extension School’s Environmental Management Program on Friday, February 29, 2008.

I am pleased to provide a link to a video of the discussion:

Many thanks for your interest!

My firm recognized for expertise in sustainability audits on marketing programs

Recently, Dan Smolen, who heads up a talent-management firm in the Washington, DC area, wrote about my firm on his blog. The blog, called Sturdy Roots, is focused on “Recruiting, Hiring & Retaining Talented Green-Marketers.”

In an April 18th post, titled “How Green Is My Marketing Company?” Smolen recommends a third-party sustainability audit to truly determine how green your marketing communications really are. Specifically he recommended my firm.

He wrote: “We recommend contacting Ben Grossman at Grossman Marketing Group. GMG is a fourth-generation marketing services provider with origins in the commercial envelope business. Based in the Boston suburbs, GMG employs wind-power to run the presses that produce envelopes made of recycled paper. And for its other energy needs, it purchases wind-power credits at no extra charge to its customers.”

My firm featured on the Great Green List

I was reading the Internet tonight and came across an interesting website, called “the great green list.” The Great Green List describes itself as “the fastest growing human edited library of environmentally focused information on the Internet.”

My company, Grossman Marketing Group, was included in the Green Marketing section. Here’s a quick link to the page:

The site features a number of “green” resources. Check it out!

Green Marketing: Reducing the Impact on the Environment while Increasing the Impact on your Audience

Below is an article I recently submitted for publication to the Association of Fundraising Professional’s newsletter about green marketing for not-for-profits. Nevertheless, the lessons discussed are applicable to for-profit businesses as well.


Nearly every day, when we open a newspaper or magazine or turn on the news, we see and hear something about the importance of being “green.” There are many reasons for this, most notably the acceptance of global warming as fact. Global warming has gone from a term used in the scientific community to a national issue on the minds of tens of millions of Americans. 2007 was the year when most citizens began to take notice and take action, and they are increasingly demanding that the places where they work, companies from which they buy products, and organizations to which they donate make significant and sustained efforts to address environmental issues. These efforts must cut across all facets of an organization, from energy conservation, to recycling initiatives, to waste and water use reduction.

One of the most active conversations that we constantly have with our clients in the not-for-profit world, particularly those in development and communications, is how they can show their donors, prospects, and constituents that they are acting in an environmentally-conscious way. In addition to implementing some of the operational business practices mentioned above, we highlight their collateral as a valuable tool in this effort. Quite often, their mailings and other marketing pieces are the principal vehicle through which they communicate with their key stakeholders and thus provide tremendous opportunities to connect in focused ways.

Each new project is an opportunity to deliver a values-laden message at a time when environmentally-sound practices are one of the hottest topics on the political, social and business landscapes. In fact, according to recent national polling data, the environment was a top-five issue with Americans, behind the economy, Iraq, and healthcare. For that reason, in addition to using marketing and fundraising projects simply as a means to discuss a specific topic (i.e. an event, annual appeal, etc), it is important to think bigger and bolder. Therefore, we make strategic recommendations on how to produce these pieces in environmentally-friendly ways, which strengthen the relationship between the organization and the donor. This is a critical part of the mission of fundraising professionals, and we are working closely with not-for-profit clients all over New England to make that goal a reality.

Research demonstrates the importance of the environment to prospective donors. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 83% of respondents said that they believed the environmental record of an organization is an important factor when deciding to buy one of its products. According to an environmental survey published by Cone LLC, a cause branding firm headquartered in Boston, 93% of Americans “believe companies have a responsibility to help preserve the environment” while 91% of Americans said they “have a more positive image of a company when it is environmentally responsible.” There is no question that this data applies to not-for-profits as well.

Not only does incorporating sustainable business practices into your organization make good business sense, it is also the right thing to do. 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 – who make up your respective donor bases.

Therefore, we made the strategic investment in early 2007 to power our envelope production facilities with 100% certified wind power, using Green-e certified renewable energy credits. We offered envelopes made with wind power at no extra cost, and the program took our industry by storm. Some of our initial customers included: American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Boston University, Common Cause, Federation of American Scientists, League of Conservation Voters, National Park Foundation, Partners Healthcare, Project Bread, Tufts University and WBUR. Over the past year, we have worked with approximately 75 clients to produce more than 120 million envelopes with wind power, which has saved more than 33,000 gallons of oil!

In addition to the wind-power envelope initiative, Grossman Marketing Group now offsets 100% of our energy use in all of our facilities, so can help our clients make all of their printed collateral with certified wind power, at no extra cost. In addition to renewable energy, we have come up with some very simple tips to “green” our clients’ collateral projects, always with the bottom line in mind.

We recommend that once clients make the decision to make their collateral more environmentally-friendly, they clearly articulate this to their constituents. We work with our clients to translate the environmental savings into very simple and easy-to-understand terms so your donors can fully grasp the positive contributions you are making to the environment. You should never hesitate to explain the work that you are doing – whether it is on the back of an envelope, or in a section of your annual report or newsletter. Clear communication and transparency are absolutely critical, as they will allow you to use your environmentally-conscious approach as a way to differentiate your organization from your competition and establish a competitive advantage.

My firm recognized for its success with environmental communications

In early March 2008, my firm, Grossman Marketing Group, announced that we had delivered more than 100 million envelopes made from certified wind power to our clients for their direct mail programs. Here’s a link to a Somerville, MA blog: