THE POWER IS YOURS! If you’re like me, you know what the first line is from: Captain Planet. We spent many Saturday mornings watching this defender of the environment put a hurting on the big, bad polluters. Fast-forward twenty years and you have the most passionate, eco-minded generation, and they’re all grown up. The Captain Planet generation now plays a major role in calling the shots and spending the money, and they can tell if you’re not honest and passionate about what you are selling. So how do you prove to them you’re sincere, while still maintaining a sensible marketing strategy? I asked myself this very question 2 years ago, when I started my company, Real Green Cleaning. I promised to never do mass-mailings, and if I ever had to do any print advertising, it would be on recycled paper with soy ink. Take no chances type of approach. A year later, I did the very thing I said I would never do, and it cost me. All it took was a misspelling, one word missed by me, my editor (my wife), the publisher and their editor. Over time, I learned to leverage paperless options, getting people to learn about my business through means that were largely free and used no paper. It’s an exciting time for “green” business, with the chance to be heard on a large scale and feel good about the means by which you’re doing it. Here are a few methods that have been great tools for my business:

  1. Website – These days, it’s an absolute necessity. If you don’t have a quality website that makes conversions for your business, it’s meaningless. If you’re not a web designer, you must hire a professional to do it right. With a quality website, you no longer need to have a large array of handouts, fliers, magnets, banners and all the other typical print material. When someone goes to your site, they should be able to find exactly what they need. But you need your website to be found, which creates the need for the following paperless, traffic driving options.
  2. SEO and PPC – This is the “it’s going to cost you some money” step. This is the equivalent of advertising in the phone book, as this is how people will find you on the Internet using all of the various search engines. Also, not using a phonebook means using one less paper product. This is a definite win. I am a huge proponent of professional SEO and PPC firms. When this is done right, it will get you the clicks that you want and generate the leads from your website. These two things have generated more than 75% of our gross income, so their importance cannot be overstated. Do not neglect the website that you have already invested in.
  3. Social Media – Social media is another absolute necessity for any business to be able to get information out fast, to a varied and hopefully large audience. I have used both personal and business accounts to generate awareness and leads. Because we are a green company, we offer tips on how to be greener on both our Facebook and Twitter accounts. These are great connecting points, allowing people with the same ideology, as well as potential clients, the opportunity to interact with us. A lot of people that we have connected with are new to the ideas that we provide and have been quick to thank us for them. The sooner you can you get the ball rolling with social media, the sooner you will see the snowball effect that comes with it.
  4. Blogging – After politics and religion, environmental issues seem to bring the most passion out of people. Much like those topics, there is a vast range of ideas, ranging from practical to outright crazy, when it comes to the environment. This allows you the chance to connect with a large audience by blogging and interacting with other writers across the entire spectrum. Also, because it is a topic that brings out passionate responses, people will want to have a voice and will often help your vision for free. For example, I have a writer that I met at a commercial client of mine who loves what we do and wants to help us spread our vision, so he helps with blogging and our social media side. This is tremendously helpful for a small business owner who does everything to keep the business afloat. Blogging and social media provide a trigger for the passion in other people, which, in turn, helps your business and your vision reach more of them. Empowered and engaged readers equal greater reach.

These are just a few of the many options that are available to you online, and will allow any business to go green by going paperless in their advertising. So again, as Captain Planet would say, THE POWER IS YOURS!