by Ben Grossman ’06
Last month, Ben Grossman ’06, director of Grossman Marketing Group’s green marketing and sustainability practice, received the 2009 Prodigy Award from the New England Direct Marketing Association. Grossman launched Grossman Marketing Group’s sustainability practice soon after joining the fourth-generation family business in 2006. Last December, Forbes featured the company in an article on going green while staying cost-competitive, and earlier this year, Grossman Marketing Group earned a Green Business Award from the Boston Business Journal.
One of the most active conversations that we have with our clients in the not-for-profit world is how they can show their donors, prospects and constituents that they are acting in an environmentally-conscious way. Each project is an opportunity to deliver a values-laden message at a time when environmentally sound practices are one of the hottest topics on the political, social and business landscapes.
Research demonstrates the importance of the environment to prospective donors. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 83 percent of respondents said that they believed the environmental record of an organization is an important factor when deciding to buy one of its products. According to an environmental survey published by Cone LLC, a cause branding firm headquartered in Boston, 93 percent of Americans “believe companies have a responsibility to help preserve the environment” while 91 percent of Americans said they “have a more positive image of a company when it is environmentally responsible.” There is no question that this data applies to not-for-profits as well.
Not only does incorporating sustainable business practices into your organization make good business sense, it is also the right thing to do. Manufacturing of all kinds, including the creation of collateral, requires large amounts of electricity, traditionally produced by fossil fuel-powered generators. The combustion of fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to address the environment with your marketing communications is to produce your materials with renewable energy, specifically wind power. Any number of third-party reports highlight that wind power resonates very well with end consumers – who make up your respective donor bases.
We made the strategic investment in early 2007 to power our envelope production facilities with 100 percent-certified wind power, using Green-e certified renewable energy credits. We offered envelopes made with wind power at no extra cost, and the program took our industry by storm. Some of our initial customers included American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Boston University, Common Cause, Tufts University and WBUR. Over the past year, we have worked with approximately 100 clients to produce more than 250 million envelopes with wind power, which has saved more than 69,500 gallons of oil!
We recommend that once clients make the decision to make their collateral more environmentally-friendly, they clearly articulate this to their constituents. We work with our clients to translate the environmental savings into very simple and easy-to-understand terms so donors can fully grasp the positive contributions being made to the environment. You should never hesitate to explain the work that you are doing – whether it is on the back of an envelope, or in a section of your annual report or newsletter. Clear communication and transparency are absolutely critical, as they will allow you to use your environmentally-conscious approach as a way to differentiate your organization from your competition and establish a competitive advantage.
Grossman, who has returned to campus as a guest speaker in Professor Michael Preston’s Family Business Management course, has served as president of the Alumni Club of Boston since 2007. He is also a frequent blogger on green marketing and green business.