I guess you have
heard of the 5 P's of marketing? How about the 7
P's of project management?
Well, I decided to do
my own thing for green marketing ideas and web site
marketing, which is
Ron's 7 R's for Real Results. Slick
marketing gurus will make fun of me, but I am not
writing this for them, I am writing this for you.
I am not interested in being slick.
This green marketing
and sustainability information is related to my
sustainable business marketing
page. The majority of true green business claims are based on independently conducted
research, greenwash is not needed.
Greenwash (a portmanteau
of green and whitewash) is a term that
environmentalists and other critics give to the
activity of giving a positive public image to
putative environmentally unsound practices. The
term arose in the aftermath of the Earth Summit held
in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Corporate lobby
groups saw the Earth Summit as a prominent platform
from which to redefine their role and to shape the
emerging debate on environment and sustainable
Greenwash short definition: Lying.
Madison Avenue style
marketing has been successful in the past helping gain
market acceptance for things that are not good for the
planet which means they are not good for you.
Clean coal advertised by children is one recent example
- no such thing as clean coal when you count CO2, think
global warming. Self dubbed "Americans for
Balanced Energy Choices", the nonprofit group behind the
ads is actually a coalition of mining companies, coal
transporters, and electricity producers. Members include
Peabody Holding, Inc., Burlington Northern/Santa Fe, and
Southern Company. According to the coalition's
website, electricity from coal is "essential,
affordable, and increasingly clean." The U.S. coal-based
electricity industry is ABEC's primary funder. Do
we need coal? Yes we do for a while. Do we
need greenwash messages delivered by children?
Your children? ABEC describes themselves as non
partisan. I wonder what non partisan means?
Or, how about BP's
beyond petroleum ads - which are about marginal
investments in renewable energy technology while
lobbying hand over fist to drill the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge and failing to inspect and maintain the
Alaska pipeline to the point of failure and shut down.
Perhaps BP stands for beyond pernicious?
John Kenney, a former ad man,
wrote an op-ed entitled "Beyond
Propaganda" in August 2006
in the The New York Times
about his disillusionment upon finally accepting that
the new company name and identity for BP he helped
create – "Beyond Petroleum" to replace "British
Petroleum"– has turned out to be just so much bunkum
designed to make a dirty oil company look
environmentally friendly on TV, while it's busy drilling
for ever more petroleum and spilling billions of gallons
all over Alaska.
Or, the inventors of
Chicken McSluggets, McDonald's, slipped in their own fry
by putting toy Hummers in
children's Happy Meal boxes, calling it the "Hummer of a
Summer" promotion. Television and radio ads, which
started running in early August 2006,
feature a family riding in a Hummer on the way to
McDonald's. With enough visits
to McDonald's, kids will be able to collect eight
different Hummers in a variety of colors, including two
versions of the H1, the original and most monstrous
member of the Hummer family, which General Motors
stopped making in June 2006. In a written
statement reported in the Detroit
Free Press, Bill Lamar, McDonald's chief
marketing officer, said the promotion was intended to
bring "the fun and excitement of Hummer vehicles" to
"McDonald's youngest guests."
One has to wonder why promoting global warming mobiles
to children in the age of peak oil might be regarded as
fun, exciting or a savvy marketing idea? Oh, wait.
These are the same folks who serve obese children food
loaded with fat and sugar? I answered my own
question. I do have another one, though. Why
isn't Ronald McDonald fat? He should look like the
If you look around
the Internet much, you might get the same feeling I do,
that there is a lot of coldness out there and in many
cases, a lot of slickness. Most web sites don't
have much personality? This is, in my opinion,
because most folks with web sites don't make a lot of
effort to be personally connected with their visitors
and customers or, in many cases, personally responsible
for what they do. They think they should pretend
to be something or somebody they are not. From a
sustainable business and green marketing perspective, I
don't think these ideas are going to help us solve our
problems. We are going to have to be personally
connected because in the long run, sustainable business
is going to be more about cooperation than about
competition. Ben and Jerry's is a good example of
being connected to your market, socially and
environmentally responsible. The Internet is the
most efficient and cost effective way to do this.
Therefore, I have
come up with a few green web and otherwise marketing
tips that might help you change this with your web
Ron's R Number
Be REAL. As my oldest grand daughter
used to say before she lost her two front teeth, you
are a human bean, aren't you? Put your
personality into what you do. If you are a
company, have a culture that projects a personal
touch in your website. If you don't have a
culture, create one. Empower your team to do
good. Websites are read by people, not companies or
corporations. It is amazing how many big
company webs I see that are meant to project a
corporate image to other corporations, like robots
hugging each other.
Don't do greenwash. Read this May 17, 2006
story from the New York Times.
Don't create phoney greenwash standards.
SFI or Sustainable Forestry Initiative sounds
impressive, but it is still a lie.
Ron's R Number
2: Be RELEVANT. Pick every niche in
your market apart and fill every gap with solid
information important to your web visitors.
Take every angle you can find, pretend that it is
your only approach to the market and drill down as
far as you can. Lookers will scan and skip.
Buyers want details. Give every person who
comes to your web a reason to look around and stay
for a while. Look at your web stats.
When you see 3 plus page views and lengthy
visitation times, you know you are getting
somewhere. When you see the resulting increase
to conversions and sales, you are on the money.
Ron's R Number
3: Be REDUNDANT. I am not talking
about being SPAMMY, unless you want to be found on
MSN. I am talking about telling the same story
in different ways on different pages for different
readers who look at the world in different ways.
Religion is a good example. Every important
religion has a creation story, each told in a
different way. They are all essentially the
Here is a similar example.
Ron's R Number
4: Be REGULAR and RELIABLE. OK, I am
fudging, using 2 R's for one. If you think
this is about Metamucil, please go back to Google
and try again. Regular updates, regular
content additions, regular schedule of
communications, reliable deliveries. One of my
favorite sayings is that the best ability is
dependability. When people know they can count
on you, your stature rises above the 80% who can't
yet be counted on. Don't be ordinary if you
have a choice, and you DO have a choice.
Ron's R Number
5: Be REALISTIC. Rome, another R,
wasn't built in a day and neither is a high
performance website for the average Joe. Keep
adding content, good relevant content.
Eventually, your web will have enough pages so that
two things will happen. First, you will be
able to rank for almost any important target of your
choice. Second, you will not have to rely on
any one target because you will see from your web
stats that over 80% of your traffic will come to
your web for phrases you are not even targeting -
but they WILL be relevant to your business or cause
if you have good page copy.
Ron's R Number
6: Be RESPONSIBLE. For every
sustainability problem we face there is a profitable
solution out there somewhere, perhaps not even
invented yet. When you find such
opportunities, find solutions and market them, you
are on the road to huge success.
Ron's R Number
7: Market your RETURN on Environment.
Return on environment is an already invented phrase,
not my original idea, but it is not being used much
as far as I can tell related to marketing. My
thinking about ROE as opposed to slick marketing ROI
or return on investment is that green marketers need
to inform consumers about the environmental benefits
of their goods and services, as well as the
environmental negatives. If we are going to
make informed choices as consumers, we need to know
both the up and down side results of our decisions
so that we make the best choices for the planet.
My friend Paul Hawken
did a great job in his book "The Ecology of Commerce" of
presenting the idea of a restorative economy. He
restorative economy tries to achieve a market in
which every transaction provides constructive feedback
to the commons, as opposed to what we know today, when
virtually every act of consumption causes degradation
and harm." Paul goes on to say that, "Competition
in the marketplace should not be between a company
wasting the environment versus one that is trying to
save it. Competition should be between companies
which can do the best job in restoring and preserving
the environment, thereby reversing historical price and
cost incentives of the industrial system that
essentially send the wrong signals to consumers."
My opinion is that
green marketers have a primary responsibility to help
consumers make sustainable choices. We need to
tell it like it is for what we do, and also provide
accurate comparisons of the environmentally
unsustainable impacts of alternative products and
services which have an apparent price advantage because
the companies who sell these products do not internalize
the environmental costs. Read Eric Davidson's book
"You Can't Eat GNP - Economics As If Ecology Mattered."
It does matter.
Regarding the 5
P's of marketing, this is big company ad agency
lingo. The 5 P's can be useful if your motives are
earnest and ethical. I will paraphrase the 5 P's
for the automotive industry. They are:
Tell your customers why they should do business
best engineered = professional grade. You
deserve the best gas guzzler.
Package and present your services to generate
interest and response from qualified prospects.
Conquer the last
remaining wilderness in your Bummer, which is really
important because you live in Manhattan and have the
credit to afford the fleece payments. Be safe
from mortar attacks (optional extra cost upgrade
Think advertising, linguistic framing, selling the
You deserve this car because it is red, goes
really fast and has poor test crash ratings.
Have fun while it lasts and we will send flowers.
Tell them whatever it takes to get the sale,
including manipulation that is not good for the
consumer or the planet.
Zero to 60 in under 6 seconds, which is really
useful for the daily commute in bumper to bumper
traffic and for driving fast in both lanes of a
winding two lane road (professional driver - closed
course - don't try this yourself.)
Keep clients coming back, referring others.
This one I can agree with for the right product or
service. But not the way they do it.
If our quality was
excellent, we would not advertise Mrs. Goodwench or
Regarding the 7
P's of project success: Proper prior planning
prevents piss poor performance. This is
Stick with Ron's 7
R's, this is the direction we must be headed.
There is no sustainable alternative.
If you would like to educate yourself
about the urgent need for sustainable business
practices, buy and read my friend and client Lester
Brown's books "Plan B 3.0" and "Outgrowing the
Earth" at the
Earth Policy Institute.