Have a Happy & Profitable Earth Day 2012! A Good Time to Enter the ECHO Awards’ Green Marketing Competition

For the past three years, the Direct Marketing Association has awarded a Special ECHO Award dedicated to incorporating sustainable, environmental concerns in marketing. The award is given NOT for being “green” (which is self-limiting), but for being successful in marketing—read, profitable—and demonstrating environmental performance in the process.

For the past three years, the Direct Marketing Association has awarded a Special ECHO Award in its International ECHO Awards competition dedicated to incorporating sustainable, environmental concerns in marketing: The ECHO Green Marketing Award.

The three winners to date—the United States Postal Service (2009), the World Wildlife Fund (2010), and Consumer Reports (2011)—each have taken the direct marketing process and used the DMA “Green 15” environmental marketing practices and principles to illustrate how marketing activity can be both successful in driving response and interaction, and adhere to best practices for environmental performance. Note, the award is given NOT for being “green” (which is self-limiting), but for being successful in marketing—read, profitable—and demonstrating environmental performance in the process.

Importantly, the award—which is judged by members of the DMA Committee on the Environmental and Social Responsibility, under the auspices of the DMA ECHO Awards Committee—looks to evaluate and recognize the marketing process, and not the product or service being marketed. Thus, the product or service being marketing need not be environmentally focused (though it certainly can be). What the judges look for is the usual hallmarks of an ECHO Award-winning direct-response campaign—strategy, creative, results—and adds a fourth component, adherence to environmental principles which apply to direct marketing. These principles are clearly stated in the DMA Green 15, which articulate list hygiene, paper procurement and use, printing and production, mail design, fulfillment and recycling collection & pollution prevention in everyday direct marketing business decision-making.

To date, each previous winner interpreted this objective in in very different ways. The USPS sought to demonstrate how direct mail advertising can be very environmentally sensitive (and sensible) in its multi-faceted “Environmailist” campaign, targeted at advertising agencies and brands that use the direct mail channel. In Australia, the World Wildlife Fund, working to promote its “Earth Hour” environmental awareness effort, sent carbon-neutral plant spikes via potted plants to office managers around the country to promote greater efficiency in office environments. Last year, Consumer Reports—in promoting subscription to its ShopSmart and Consumer Reports magazines—used the Green 15 to audit each of its business decisions in data management, supply chain engagement, procurement, production, logistics and customer communication, and to apply the principles where they made economic sense or were revenue-neutral.

The deadline for entering the 2012 DMA International ECHO Marketing Award competition is April 25, 2012, with a late deadline of May 2, 2012: http://dma-echo.org/enter.jsp

As brands and agencies enter the Awards, there is an entry field where consideration for the ECHO Green Marketing Award is prompted. If the “yes” box is checked, an additional Green Marketing Award Addendum can be promptly accessed that allows up to 1,000 words to explain how the entry:

  • Employs Innovative Green Tactics & Strategies Employed Throughout the Direct Marketing Process
  • Inspires Action & Making a Difference to the Planet
  • Demonstrates Measurable Environmental Impact of the Campaign
  • … all the while being a successful marketing campaign overall.

Happy Earth Day 2012—and take the time to show others how your brand or your client’s brand is leading the way in incorporating environmental sensitivity in its everyday marketing decision-making—and producing outstanding, profitable results. I’m hopeful I will be writing about your winning campaign once the 2012 winner is announced during the DMA2012 Conference this October in Las Vegas, NV.

Consumer Reports Nets DMA ECHO Green Marketing Award 2011: Lessons for Every Marketer

One of the highlights of the Direct Marketing Association’s 2011 annual conference was the awarding of a special ECHO award to Consumer Reports, the organization behind the magazine of the same name. As a member of DMA’s Committee on the Environment and Social Responsibility (CESR), I was one of the judges of this year’s competition, which looks to honor one marketing organization that has demonstrated environmental performance and sustainable practices in the design and execution of an advertising campaign.

One of the highlights of the Direct Marketing Association’s 2011 annual conference was the awarding of a special ECHO award—the ECHO Green Marketing Award—to Consumer Reports, the organization behind the magazine of the same name. As a member of DMA’s Committee on the Environment and Social Responsibility (CESR), I was one of the judges of this year’s competition, which looks to honor one marketing organization that has demonstrated environmental performance and sustainable practices in the design and execution of an advertising campaign.

What makes the Consumer Reports entry remarkable is its demonstrated adherence to a set of environmental principles and practices known as the DMA “Green 15.” Established by DMA in 2009, the DMA Green 15 provides guidance to marketers on list hygiene and data management, paper procurement, printing and production, and recycling and workplace operations—all in an effort to support the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

The campaign itself was a recent subscription offer for Consumer Reports and ShopSmart magazines. The campaign did not sell an environmental product. It did not tout environmental claims. It did not involve environmental causes. Yet it won our discipline’s highest environmental marketing honor. Why? Because the campaign incorporated environmental sensitivity, efficiencies, and cross-company and supply chain engagement into everyday marketing planning and decision-making.

In short, the Consumer Reports effort is a blueprint that all marketers—commercial and non-profit—can replicate in their own everyday marketing.

Consider this excerpt from the entry:

We produced the Winter 2010/11 direct marketing campaign with the goal of strategically supporting the sustainability objectives of meeting our acquisition targets, serving the ongoing needs of consumers, and of being good stewards of the resources we use. Direct Marketing and Publishing Operations departments worked collaboratively guided by our internal Environmental Policy & Vision Statement to identify, implement, and track meaningful environmental choices made throughout the life cycle of the campaign season.

The overall environmental benefits of the choices we made included less energy and materials consumption, more benign manufacturing, and reduced emissions. Additionally, we promoted recycling of direct marketing packages that are recyclable, saved money, upheld response rates, and met our objectives.

The full entry incorporated actions that the Consumer Reports vendors undertook to increase efficiencies and environmental performance, as well as documented gains in paper procurement and use, mail design and production, and recycling and pollution reduction—all with measurements that document positive environmental impacts while achieving financial objectives.

I encourage all marketers to look to the example of Consumer Reports and its adherence to the DMA Green 15. In fact, the long-term sustainability of direct marketing depends on it.

Resources:
Direct Marketing Association’s Green 15 Toolkit for Marketers

With Special Permission, This Year’s DMA International ECHO Green Marketing Award Winner, Consumer Reports.

Editor’s Note: As of Autumn 2011, ConsumersUnion is newly rebranded as Consumer Reports.

Can You Capitalize on DIY?

If high-end Swarovski Crystal and YouTube marketer Dynomighty can hit home runs with the same marketing strategy, it’s something every online marketer should think about. The strategy in question is do-it-yourself (DIY) community marketing. DIY projects get popular with consumers when times are tight, and are they ever tight now. These very different marketers are both benefitting from the buzz, brand interaction and organic customer rewards that DIY communities create.

If high-end Swarovski Crystal and YouTube marketer Dynomighty can hit home runs with the same marketing strategy, it’s something every online marketer should think about. The strategy in question is do-it-yourself (DIY) community marketing. DIY projects get popular with consumers when times are tight, and are they ever tight now. These very different marketers are both benefitting from the buzz, brand interaction and organic customer rewards that DIY communities create.

Last week I mentioned Dynomighty, which has had great success with earnest, compelling YouTube marketing. The other thing Dynomighty’s hit on is DIY marketing for its Mighty Wallet. The Mighty Wallet is made from Tyvek (often used in express mail envelopes), which, along with being nigh indestructible, is easily written on and decorated. In fact, Dynomighty sells the wallets in various blank colors (in addition to a ton of designs) for buyers to decorate themselves DIY-style, and encourages them through The DIY Mighty Wallet competition on its Facebook page. The first contest has already been won, another one’s launching June 15.

Dynomighty’s DIY contest reinforces a product benefit — the ability to customize its wallets — to get users to follow its Facebook page, and encourages them to make something they’ll want to show to friends. All for the cost of the creative and a $500 shopping spree. That’s great for a small, gorilla e-marketer like Dynomighty, but luxury crystal brand Swarovski Crystal is doing the same thing in a more formal, international way befitting its own reputation.

Create Your Style with Crystalized – Swarovski Elements is Swarovski’s international DIY blitz that combines in-store demonstrations, contests, conventions, tie-in products (namely crystal jewelry design books), social media marketing and other initiatives to promote the Crystalized line of DIY jewelry supplies. From its Facebook page:

“CREATE YOUR STYLE is the global creative community of CRYSTALLIZED™ — Swarovski Elements, the ultimate crystal brand. It connects like-minded people with a passion for expressing themselves through personal design. CREATE YOUR STYLE has devoted itself to the creation of an inspiring and interactive platform where crystal aficionados from all over the world can exchange creative ideas and obtain advice from experts while getting design and style tips as well as information on international competitions and whatever else their creative heart desires!”

The Swarovski product line is specifically made for DIYers, but the strategy is very similar to what Dynomighty is doing: Promote social networks based on the exploration of your product’s benefits, create product evangelists and reward consumers for interacting with your brand. Swarovski puts a lot more money into its program, but both are attracting followers.

It’s a tactic that can be applied to many products at varying levels of resource commitment. If you sell shoes or clothing, challenge customers to customize fashions. If you sell electronics, build a community around installation and optimization. If you sell collectibles, share techniques for users to make their own, and offer supplies to do so. When your product becomes a hobby, enthusiasts become more committed to your brand and they’ll try to spread that fever to like-minded individuals. DIY is really a breed of highly contagious viral marketing.

How can you create a DIY movement among your customers?