Times They Are a Changing: Green Marketing Tips for Eco Entrepreneurs in 2008

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Ad Age article Jacquelyn Ottman, president of J. Ottman Consulting, shared four green marketing predictions for 2008 with readers. While her predictions are meant for the big corporate and big agency readers of that magazine, eco entrepreneurs can develop their own marketing strategies based on what the big players see as the major market trends.

1. Ottman predicts, and I wrote about here , that consumers and manufacturers fed up with regulatory agencies’ inaction in the area of eco-labeling. With minimal or mindless standards governing consumers’ choices, big companies are creating their own standards and vying with each other to do the job the FDA, USDA and other government agencies seem reluctant to do.

Private eco-labels can be a threat to smaller companies. While perceived by consumers as a “certification” in reality an eco-label created by and used exclusively on one company’s products, becomes a brand identity.

What can eco-entrepreneurs do? Call them on it! Seek out certifications from environmentally aware non-profits and government agencies. Use the words “independently certified” on your package. Pressure the FDA, EPA, USDA and other agencies to take a stand. Join a trade group that applies pressure. Advertise your difference whether that be “made locally” or “made at our one plant” or Fair Trade in PR pieces, on social media and on your package.

2. Manufacturers will start to take responsibility for e-waste. In response to two directives from the European Commission, the Waste for Electric and Electronic Equipment and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances major manufacturers of electronic equipment will start take back programs and begin using less toxic materials whenever possible.

Make sure you do too. Create a take back program. Large companies that distribute millions of products have a headache managing take-back programs. Make yours easier. Make it innovative. Make it fun. One strategy is to get younger, already more eco-conscious consumers involved. Better yet, start a company that manages take-back programs or e-waste disposal. The time is right to start a business to handle old electronics.

3. More and more green products will hit the shelves. More and more not-so-green products will engage in green practices, especially in the area of packaging. We’ll soon see fewer over-packaged products and more use of recycled paper products and non toxic inks.

There’s a business opportunity or three in there for eco-entrepreneurs. As manufacturers request eco-friendly packaging, suppliers, designers, engineers and chemists in their field will be in demand. Want to make your packaging more eco-friendly? Check out some of the 40 tips to eco your marketing packaging.

3a. (I split this one in two as it will have an important impact on green entrepreneurs.) As more and more companies go green, being green will have less impact. Green will be the standard. That means that smaller companies who use their “green” credentials as their major selling point may have to change with the times. If everyone’s green, what’s your point of difference?

This is the time to really look at your product and see what makes it unique. If you have the money, invest in marketing to determine your best positioning strategy and do some research to determine consumer need and the competitive marketplace.

4. Green product sales will soar. Major manufacturers will continue to snap up smaller green companies and larger entrepreneurial companies will grow.

Both of these trends benefit the eco-entrepreneur. Not only will large corporations be courting you, the green trend will put well known stand-alones like Seventh Generation in the market for acquisitions too. Don’t be surprised to find them knocking at your door. If you choose to stand alone make sure you have a solid business plan that accounts for the changing marketplace.

Now is a critical time for eco-entrepreneurs. As green goes mainstream make sure you’re ready for the change.

Now, what’s your take on all of this? What moves do you think will most benefit eco-entrepreneurs?

About the Author

Hear Maryanne speak on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands at Expo East on September 27th! Maryanne Conlin is CPG brand marketer and digital marketing expert, CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy, 4GreenPs. A Shorty Award winner for best Green Content on Twitter, she was a member of the IAA team that won the Green Award in 2010 and most recently was a finalist for the PRSA - Los Angeles PRISM awards for social media. She and her team focus on providing strategic marketing direction, custom content for web, mobile and social platforms, social media community management and online promotions and digital advertising solutions for companies in the green, food and Hispanic space. Follow her on Twitter @maryanneconlin