Watch Your Tone, Green Marketers, Preachy Doesn't Pay

No one likes being condescended to, but it's easy to do if you treat every audience the same. With super green audiences, strong messaging about saving the earth and its creatures is preaching to the choir, so you don't have to temper much. But if you want to expand your audience to consumers resisting the green "movement," you need to find another way because scare tactics and shame just don’t work.

Consumers Want a Conversation

The purpose of green marketing isn't just to one-up your competition by highlighting all your brand does to stay environmentally conscious, it's to actually inspire people to make a difference to the environment through green products. That means getting as many people onto the bandwagon as possible. For those who don't consider themselves eco-warriors, it takes a delicate touch — grounded in relatability. 

According to Fast Company, most people want a conversation. The tipping point has already been reached “where a penalty will be paid by those companies who simply view social as a mass communication channel for blasting out messages to a mass audience.” For every person you sway with bold statistics about climate change and the need to adopt greener habits, you alienate another. 

So how do you bring these consumers over to the greener side? By being a little more friendly, dropping the shame and guilt, and focusing on angles with a bit more appeal to those resistant to hard line tactics: 

Promote green events with incentives.People who aren't diving into going green can still be encouraged to attend local green events when offered the right incentive. For example, the Worcester, Mass., Ecotarium offered half-price admission on Earth Day this past year, a great deal for anyone looking for an activity for the kids during what also happened to be school vacation week. When you focus on the fun first, you create a safe space for newbies to dip a toe in green waters – without being worried they'll be recruited to Greenpeace. 

Spotlight celebrities. Nothing sells or shares as easily as pretty much anything endorsed by a popular celebrity, green causes included. Celebrities passionate about the environment make it cool for their fans to be as well. Talking up Gwyneth Paltrow’s compost efforts or the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation's mission to "restore balance to threatened ecosystems" is a great way to break the ice on green initiatives via relevant content. Even better? Partner with a celebrity who believes in your product or cause. 

Talk to consumers about the benefits to them. Green-minded people already know the negative ramifications of plastic bags, plastic water bottles, and constant AC use over the summer, and why it's important to find alternatives. Other people don’t know, or don’t want to, because they don't want to be inconvenienced for the sake of a cause that might seem illusory. Turning content around to focus on how green initiatives impact consumers directlyis just a better spin on the data, whether it's lowering their electric bill by $200 over the summer by running the AC on energy saver mode, or keeping water colder by using a reusable thermos. Even if their reasons are self-centered, the environment still benefits.

Make it about community. From sponsoring a community garden or local farmers market to organizing a recycling drive, activating people's community spirit is a great way to inspire them to take a closer look at eco-friendly behaviors without feeling overwhelmed or alone. Find local organizations that align with your brand and help them make going green a community effort. 

Climate change and green efforts are serious stuff, but your marketing doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. Use the tips above to reach beyond your core green audiences, and broaden your impact on the environment by being a little less intense. 

Engage according to your audience’s needs, and get down off the soap box — unless that soap and the box are entirely sustainable, of course.

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