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February 2008

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By Victoria J. Stephens, CMP

Key objectives of marketing communications and advertising programs have always been to increase market share and drive revenues - powerful motivators for changing how we go to market, do business and alter the courses we take. Today's market presents another key objective to help reach our goals: Go Green.

Green. Caring for the planet isn't just for tree huggers anymore. Green is going mainstream. And growing markets for green services and products reflect that attitude. Green is good business meeting good values.

Green - Good for Business
There are compelling business reasons to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and output of pollution. By minimizing dependence on fossil fuels, improving operational efficiencies, and altering business practices, companies can save a lot of money. Those savings contribute to the bottom line. But let's be frank. If it doesn't save much money, many companies won't put going green at the top of their priority lists.

Green Means Opportunity
This green movement is just beginning to gain real momentum. It means a change in the way we are doing business, but as important, it is also creating opportunities. The market is now reflecting the belief that saving our green planet can also help generate another kind of green - $$$ - money. When you do good, you do well.

Innovative companies are already doing just that. They're profiting and gaining decisive competitive advantage - and their leaders and employees are feeling better about what they do, too. Dr. Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Aspen teaches that business can be more efficient and productive, and increase profits, by learning from and working with nature.
Green business practices reflect positively in a company's reputation by improving public relations through demonstrating a commitment to corporate responsibility. That's good for business, as demonstrated by Starbucks' corporate philosophy of social and environmental responsibility.
The quest for green has also opened up new niche markets. For example, the recycling of e-scrap (discarded electronics, from computers and televisions to all kinds of gadgets). Contents of e-scrap are toxic. They are also valuable and present a business opportunity. The Environmental Protection Agency states that consumers retired 2 million tons of e-waste in 2007. Not only is the market value of important metals used in electronics rapidly increasing, but in addition, components of e-scrap can be refurbished, reused and sold. Luminous Electronics Recycling (LER) takes the conservation of natural resources and proper disposal of hazardous materials very seriously. LER recycles raw materials from e-scrap and salvages components, selling to businesses and consumers. (See

Opportunity for Advertising & Marketing Industry
Leaders of numerous innovative companies are thinking holistically. They see the responsibility and opportunity of green going beyond the products or services they offer. Their vision is embedded in the fabric of their companies and is reflected in many aspects of their business processes. They seek like-minded business with which to work. This presents considerable opportunity for advertising and marketing professionals and their support services. Here are just a few examples:

A Green Internet
A local web designer has found ways to increase the green benefits of the Internet. Idelle Fisher of IJ Design ( specializes in green web and graphic design. She says, “Using the Internet is a great way to be green. Websites provide a way to become paper free and provide clients with up-to-date information.” IJ Design has taken that concept a step further by setting up client websites with a green web hosting company, which is 100% solar powered. “This wasn't available until recently,” states Fisher. “Now we can run on the sun.”

Green Communication
Leslie Fera, principal of Connexion Creative (, a green design and marketing firm, says, “We try to get creative in terms of delivering the message. It takes a lot more time and leg work, but we've found that the challenge of finding more sustainable delivery methods has led to innovative solutions that get noticed.” Connexion Creative recently created a USB wristband loaded with information for conference attendees. The promo item was well received and saved exhibitors, attendees and conference planners from dealing with huge amounts of paper. It was a great success.

In terms of delivery, Connexion Creative now works only with printers that are FSC certified and use PCW recycled paper and soy or vegetable-based inks. Additionally, they have increased their digital design team and look for alternative ways to deliver messaging, such as online, on USB drives, in alternative packaging, etc.

Green Meetings and Events
Event managers that use green meetings practices know all kinds of ways to save energy, reduce waste and reuse resources. Green Convene Strategies (GCS), a startup strategic development and meetings management firm in Denver, incorporates green practices into every event they plan. Often, environmental improvements result in significant cost savings to the client.

At one client program held in a high-end resort in Florida last year, a client asked for bottled water for about 35 people served at breaks. GCS suggested an alternative of ice water with lemon slices in glass pitchers and water tumblers would give guests more of a “first-class” experience while having a lower impact on the planet. Initially, the client declined GCS's suggestion, arguing that attendees preferred bottled water. When Green Convene Strategies showed the client that serving water in pitchers instead of bottles could save approximately $775 over the course of the 2 1/2-day meeting, the client instantly agreed. This one example at a small meeting dispels both myths that greening a meeting costs more and is more work. It was also easy to implement, reduced waste, and saved energy. And there are many more ways to reach all these goals by following numerous other green meetings practices.

We all want to do better and make the right choices, for our own businesses and for our clients. Whether you are passionate about working toward a sustainable future, pragmatic about saving your company some green $$, or determined to generate a new stream of revenue, what you do today can change many tomorrows. Green means green.

The Worldwatch Institute released "State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy" this month, highlighting new economic opportunities and actions by governments and businesses to better the world. See article entitled "Environmental Action Driving Global Economy." Go to:

Go to, Resources page for links to tips and advice on lowering your carbon output and improving the planet for future generations.

About the Author
Victoria Stephens is founder and Managing Partner of Green Convene Strategies, LLC. GCS is an events management and consulting company that specializes in producing meetings, conferences, conventions, and events with as light an environmental footprint as possible while positively affecting their clients' bottom line and ROI. Ms. Stephens has a strong background with over 23 years in events production, meetings management, and marketing communications. She has a B.S. in Marketing from University of Colorado at Denver, and received CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation in 1998, and renewed in 2003. She can be reached at

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