Small and local businesses are constantly struggling to balance cost efficiency with social good and sustainability. It’s easy to opt to print flyers or buy brand new print cartridges for your printer or scanner, when you know there is minimal cost and hassle involved. And then you attend a seminar about running a greener office or retail shop and think, “I should do my part for the environment, but how can I afford to implement it?” It’s a question that most local businesses face regularly and it may be easier than you think. The trending shift is to take marketing initiatives and operations online or to the tech world. Here are four ways to be a more sustainable business and keep your costs down:

1. Social Media – This marketing tool is not going away! Create an approach and voice your products or services through social channels that best reflects your store or business. This is a great way to cut out the excessive print costs that go into posters, newspaper ads and even glossy marketing materials. Think of the trees you’ll save!

2. Loyalty Programs – There are so many punch cards floating around, it’s difficult to keep them all together without feeling the extra wallet weight. With the rising cost of printing and the increased focus on sustainable business practices, paper cards are frowned upon. A few companies offer plastic cards but, from an environmental perspective, these aren’t much better and the costs skyrocket for replacement cards. Do your part by researching and implementing a loyalty program that fits within your budget.

3. Proven Data – There is a major downfall to the traditional loyalty punch card method: No data on your customers. A more recent innovation is to find a Digital Loyalty Program. Vancouver-based, RTOWN runs a loyalty program straight from an app on your smartphone. It’s free for the customer to download and valuable statistics are instantly collected and reported on. The issue of cost, wasted paper and lack of customer data is off the table.

4. Skip the printer – Gone are the days of large fax machines and multiple printers. Innovative online platforms now allow you to sign and initial documents without ever having to use a pen or paper. Take your filing cabinet online with a PDF converter. No fancy hardware needed. Your smartphone has access to applications that  instantly turns a document or photo into a PDF in a matter of moments. Going paperless has never been so efficient.

Have you made the push to a greener digital marketing solution?