One of my favorite blogs right now is Naomi Dunford’s Ittybiz. She writes about ethical marketing for small businesses without marketing departments. She also has a buzzed haircut and swears like a sailor. Awesome.
Go ahead and take a second to ask yourself what the hell that has to do with Frugally Green and then I’ll continue.
OK, enough postulating. The answer, interestingly enough, is “everything.”
I’ll prove this by asking you a few questions:
- Do you enjoy saving money and improving the environment?
- Do you sometimes wish that other people enjoyed saving money and improving the environment, too?
- Have you ever had someone ask you what this “green movement” is all about?
If you answered yes to those three questions then, whether you realize it or not, you’ve had to market your frugally green lifestyle to someone else. If you’ve ever stumbled over your words and left them with a puzzled look then, unfortunately, you’ve marketed poorly. But that’s okay, we can fix that. I know you never wanted to be a marketer, but as long as you have to be one, you may as well be good at it, right? That’s right.
On the other hand, if you answered no to those questions, I’m not quite sure why you’re here. Maybe you aren’t, either. Hmm…awkward. Feel free to stick around anyhow.
Anyway, I know a lot of us hanging out in the anti-consumerism camp have a strong distrust of marketers. We think they’re constantly conspiring to find new, slimy ways to convince us to buy junk we don’t need. Well, yeah, a lot of them are. But some of them aren’t. Some of them find a deeper meaning in connecting people with ideas and products that will truly change their lives. That’s the kind of marketer Naomi is and I know that’s the kind of marketer you want to be.
The other day, Naomi taught me about the difference between selling features and selling benefits. As environmentalists, I think this is one of the most important lessons we can learn about getting and keeping others interested in the movement.
We care about our environment…a lot. Sometimes we care about it more than we care about other people. In fact, sometimes we create an adversarial relationship between our environment and other people because we’re so passionate about it.
That’s why, when people ask us why we “sort our garbage” (sometimes also called recycling), we answer with something like, “Because we’re running out of space in our landfills.”
That’s why, when someone wants to know why we ride our bike around town instead of driving, we retort with, “Because it emits less carbon dioxide into our suffocating atmosphere.”
That’s why we say, “Because it clears our mind of the consumerist culture,” when someone asks us why we don’t watch TV.
These are all examples of selling the features of environmentalism.
Technically, they’re all true, but the problem is that all these “other people” we’re trying to get our message out to don’t care about features. They care about benefits. Benefits are what they get out of making the changes we want them to make. Benefits are more compelling to people than features because they can tangibly relate them to their personal life.
Ideas like landfill depletion, carbon emissions, and the consumerist culture are too psychologically far away, too disconnected from the every day goings-on of normal people. They can’t relate to them in the way they can relate to the benefits they see when they make a change that affects these ideas. Does that make sense?
So, the next time your neighbor asks you why you sort your trash, instead of going on about landfill depletion, kindly inform them that you call it “recycling” and doing it can save them a bunch of money each year on trash hauling that they can use for something else they care about.
When your co-worker wants to know why you would ride a bike instead of take a car to the grocery store, let him know it’s because it’s fun and the exercise you get saves you money on a gym membership.
If your sister wonders why you got rid of your TV, tell her it’s because you’ve found that it allows you to exercise your creative mind by finding new ways to spend your time and the money saved from the cable bill helps fund your new hobbies.
As backwards as it might sound, true environmentalism is about people before it’s about the environment because, well, what good is a clean, beautiful world without anyone to appreciate it?
What do you think? Is marketing an important part of our “job”? Are people more important than environment?
Connect with me on Twitter: @FrugallyGreen
Used car salesman image by bonkedproductions