Marketing can be one of the most expensive aspects of running a business, not only in terms of money spent, but also because traditional advertising methods can have a cost that\’s much higher than your marketing budget. Long before the days of email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), marketing was almost solely dependent upon paper ads. Take this scene from Jenny 8. Lee’s gripping bestseller, “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles”:
The flyers were stuffed into mailboxes, piled on lobby furniture, thrown in heaps on lobby floors, and shoved under doors. Residents and landlords argued that the flood of paper engulfing the Upper West Side was a health and safety hazard. They feared the accumulation of menus would alert burglars to when people were away. And what if someone slipped on a wet menu? Who would they sue?
The author describes the wasteful enterprise of unused, unwanted paper menus flooding buildings through the \’80s and into the \’90s. The United States alone uses 68 million trees each year to produce 17 billion catalogues and 65 billion pieces of direct mail, according to the American Forest and Paper Association.
Although we’ve come a ways since then, the song remains the same. Companies spend billions each year producing pamphlets, flyers, and billboards to advertise their products while having a profound negative impact on the environment. All the waste cannot be cut down, not at once, but there are marketing steps that companies can take to reduce paper waste.
Search engine optimization provides a cost-effective, purely digital way to promote brands that has very little impact on the environment. The key marketing tool lies not in a piece of paper, hacked from a tree, processed, and printed, but in a word typed onto the Internet. SEO is a way to raise the profile of a company in search engines so that when particular search terms are typed into engines like Google or Bing, companies can appear higher on searches and garner more traffic to their site. The only energy that goes into this is human energy, which we can find in abundance, and not one natural resource is exploited.
Those who want to transmit a message about a brand or company in addition to having optimized their search engine rankings can consider email marketing. You can put the same things you would put on a flyer in an email newsletter without leaving a massive carbon footprint. Some think email is outdated, but consider these facts:
– The percentage of people old enough to have a bank account who check email every day is nearly 100%.
– Email marketing produces a return on investment with regularity and reliability.
Facebook has over half a billion users. Everyone seems to be tweeting all the time. These are two great platforms for getting the word on your brand out to the consumer. It also allows a degree of interaction on the part of the consumer. Again, there is very little use of natural resources with this form of marketing. Not to mention, Twitter is becoming an industry standard for marketers. The potential audience is so great, and the cost to execute so low that it makes for a responsible marketing choice, both economically and environmentally.
Reaching a fully green, sustainable society is still well off into the future (if even possible), but if businesses use these marketing methods instead of more damaging, wasteful methods we can secure a better future for our planet and ourselves.