Stand out in a world awash in green

Focus on the three E’s

Your environmental communication needs to abide by three important E’s.

The first, most obvious, is ecology - how your product helps the ecology - because that is where the environmental impulse begins.

The second “E” is for economy, because not being viewed as economical is one of the barriers to green-product purchases.

The final “E” is for efficacy - green doesn’t just have to do good but it also has to work well. “Only the most zealous greens among us will sacrifice product performance for ecological advantage. In short, the majority of people will buy your product when you move it from a cause to a because: Because it works,” they write on

Know the shades of green

Don’t succumb to sweeping generalizations about green consumers. They are not monolithic but come in many different shades. It can be handy to break them into three groups.

Deep Greens are the most environmentally active segment and the most willing to pay a premium for green products. They’re going green no matter what. Medium Greens are more mainstream, middle-of-the-roaders, who will go green if it makes sense to their personal lifestyle and if they see the results of what they do. Light Greens have a wait-and-see attitude; they will buy the products only if those work within their budgets and in their homes.

Educate consumers

It’s hard to sell non-toxic cleaning products to consumers if they don’t understand what’s wrong with toxic cleaning products in the first place. So don’t assume consumers understand the need for - and benefits of - your product. Educate them.

Value their values

By definition, green consumers are values-driven. So telling them about your company’s values can speak to their values. Let them know about your socially conscious way of doing business. Patagonia outdoor clothing company imposes an “earth tax” on itself, which it pays to environmental groups for being a polluter and user of the planet’s non-renewable resources - an act of penance that would align with its environmentally conscious consumers.

Be relevant

Make your message hit home with the current concerns of consumers, rather than keeping the message airy-fairy. The headline for ads the consultants wrote for a new line of non-toxic paints for children’s rooms and nurseries read: “There really is a monster in your child’s room,” referring to the off-gassing of paints, rugs and cleaning products that are commonly used in children’s bedrooms and throughout the home. It made the issue immediate and relevant.

Don’t be a me-tooer

As with everything else, you need to stand out in your efforts, rather than being viewed as offering the 10th version of what nine other companies have already taken to market. “Ask yourself whether what you’ve thought of is truly an original idea. Does it do its job better, more economically, and more efficiently with less ecological impact? Is it positioned better, packaged better? Does it communicate its unique promise of value better? If you can answer yes to those questions, then say yes to your product. If you can’t, then go back to the drawing board,” they conclude.


A leading cause of ineffective meetings are “meeting dominators” - bosses, bullies or braggarts who hijack the meeting to their own ends. Michael Goldman, program director of the Master Certificate in Facilitation Program at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, says that keeping dominators in check begins with your meeting design. Consider controlled participatory techniques, such as a round-robin format, in which everybody speaks by turn; or break participants into small subgroups that give dominators a smaller field to try to manipulate.

Also, get the group to agree on operating guidelines for the meeting. Some suggestions:

Speak no longer than 30 seconds.

Don’t restate an argument unless there is crucial new information.

Occasionally paraphrase what others suggested before stating your own ideas.

Emphasize the positive: Use “yes, and …” to build on the thoughts of others, rather than “yes, but …,” which may tear them down.

By establishing norms, the power of the group can be used to stifle the dominators. Test the operating guidelines for agreement to ensure everyone is willing to live with them during the session. Then seek permission to referee the norms, being very clear about how you’ll respond to rule breakers.


Technology writer James Gaskin warns on that there are four common business situations where we use e-mail but shouldn’t:

Co-ordinating schedules can be accomplished better with a group calendar, rather than arguing back and forth with others by e-mail about a meeting. Indeed, his law of meeting co-ordination is: Mail Volume = Participants Squared, or MV = P{+2}. The more people on an e-mail list for a meeting, the more “can’t do Thursday” replies clog inboxes.

Document collaboration works better by making shared storage of documents available to everyone, rather than e-mailing edited copies of documents here and there.

Managing tasks works better in project manager or task manager applications, rather than demanding progress updates and work schedules by e-mail.

Making group decisions or building group consensus too often fractures and falls apart through e-mail, but is more effective on shared discussion boards.


Focus on attainable goals

Blogger Jonathan Mead says that instead of setting long-term goals - which create needless anxiety - try to set a theme for each month, highlighting an issue to focus your energy on. As well, instead of setting important tasks for each day, set them for a week, which helps you to focus on the bigger picture and gets you out of the trap of overestimating what you can accomplish on a specific day.

Find your cheerleader

Advertising wizard Roy H. Williams says everyone needs their own Jay Leno, David Letterman or Conan O’Brien - someone who will tell everyone how wonderful they are. Who might be willing to do that for you?

Personal letter power

Consultant Allyson Lewis’s advice for financial advisers may also apply to others who depend on strong relationships: Mail two handwritten thank-you notes a day to clients, vendors, and even family and friends. “You’ll be amazed at the power of a personal letter,” she says.

No time to waste

Don’t squander those short bits of time that pop up each day between major events in your schedule. Keep reading material with you, such as trade articles; have some cards with stamped envelopes to write those hand-written notes; keep a list of calls to make; and if you have an iPod, download podcasts to keep you learning or inspired.

Try horizontal messaging

Most e-mail marketing messages convey their messages vertically, usually with a photo at the top and the copy below. E-mail marketing specialist Dylan Boyd suggests occasionally mixing it up, trying a horizontal scroll. Remember to limit the depth of the message so there is only one direction for the eye - left to right.

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Beyond Adobe Reader

Consider ditching Adobe Reader and trying PDF-XChange, which handily won a recent online survey as the best PDF Viewer, with 59-per-cent support. Foxit Reader was second, drawing 22 per cent of votes, and Adobe Reader third, with 7 per cent.

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