What can Toyota teach us about marketing green homes?

Here are a few suggestions for how marketers in the green home industry (and other industries as well) could benefit from emulating certain aspects of the marketing of hybrid cars:

2014 Toyota Prius hybrid“What can we learn from the marketing of hybrid cars that can help us market green homes?”

A LEED AP contractor posted this question as a discussion last month on the LinkedIn group Building Green.  “The cost premium for a high performance house is 5-10% for 90% better efficiency,” he added, “while the cost premium for hybrid cars is (only) 15-25% for 10-15% better efficiency.”

He didn’t elaborate, but I’m pretty sure he meant to imply that more consumers are springing for hybrids than are purchasing energy efficient homes, despite the better energy performance of the homes. In a quick search, I was unable to find hard numbers to back up this assertion. However, I do think he may have a point.

Here are my thoughts (in no particular order) on the topic:

  •  Marketing is (in general) less about logic than it is about appealing to the emotions. I hate to say it, but cars have the advantage here. They just have more sex appeal than houses for the average consumer. (Try creating a home ad that can even come close to this Porsche hybrid concept car ad in the sex appeal department!)

It’s great when your product has native sex appeal. However, there are plenty of other deep emotions that can be just as powerful. Look how Toyota openly uses the concept of non-romantic love to speak to their target audience’s desire for purposeful living in this hybrid ad:

(A nice additional touch: the YouTube post includes an invitation to join the conversation on other social media via the #LoveHybrid hashtag.)

  • Branding has merit. Toyota gets about 60% of the hybrid market. They have done an excellent job of elevating the Prius in particular to virtual cult status.
  • Related to branding, consider the mass media exposure that hybrid cars as a category enjoy. When was the last time you saw a TV ad for Passivhaus?
  • Despite the fact that people spend way more time in their homes, the energy efficiency of their cars is more top of mind. Think how many times per month people come face to face with their home energy bills. Compare that to the number of times they look at their gas gauge.  The act of driving (and fueling up) could also be functioning as a type of physical involvement device – a proven response-boosting marketing tactic.
  • Speaking of face-to-face, there are enough hybrids on the road now that their popularity is becoming obvious. (They are no longer just for tree huggers, either. My former neighbor, a deer-hunting, die-hard Green Bay Packers fan who throws all his recycling in the trash despite having access to curbside pickup, now drives a bright red Prius.) Thus, the all-important (in marketing) social proof is being offered. In contrast, it’s often difficult to tell from the outside whether a building has any progressive features.
  • Interest and accessibility. Start talking about R value and watch people’s eyes glaze over. Yet many in the green home industry continue to try to hook buyers with loads of energy efficiency data rather than presenting them with emotional benefits. On the other hand, watch a few car ads and see how technical they get. (I’ll save you some time: they’re typically 95% emotion, with a few MPG statistics thrown in.)

green roof buildingHere are a few suggestions for how marketers in the green home industry (and other industries as well) could benefit from emulating certain aspects of the marketing of hybrid cars:

1. Appeal to people’s emotions in your marketing.

2. Use language they can relate to. If you’re speaking to engineers, get as technical as you want. They love it. (Just make sure you’re accurate.) Otherwise,  translate your benefits into plain English.  Shoot for a middle school reading level. Your audience may be educated, but they’re also busy and distracted.

3. Get physical. Don’t just talk about R value and HVAC. Demonstrate energy efficiency in ways people can see and feel. Involve them. Have them handle samples of building materials. Hold an open house or expo. Sponsor a contest. Shoot a video that illustrates how your green technology works.

4. Address as many benefits as you can, including deep benefits. A lot of people don’t understand all the benefits of an efficient home. For example, a well-insulated room will feel warmer (in cold weather) than one kept at the same temperature that is not adequately insulated and air sealed. The benefit? They’ll feel much more comfortable in the insulated room. A deeper benefit is that feeling warmer reduces stress on the body (especially for older people and small children.) This means a healthier, happier family, fewer trips to the doctor, and lower medical bills.

5. Show social proof. Share testimonials and case studies of successful green buildings. Don’t just talk about meeting LEED standards. Show and tell how your type of building is meeting real people’s needs, saving them money, allowing them to enjoy a more comfortable experience, etc.

6. Try cooperative marketing. You may not have the ad budget of Toyota or Honda, but if you team up with other companies with similar target markets, you can certainly do a media blitz in your local community. Co-sponsor an event, form a local green building association, pool funds to purchase billboard space and other co-op advertising – the possibilities abound.

7. Don’t forget PR. Local press, especially, is always looking for interesting stories. Green building success stories certainly qualify – especially if you can tie in a human interest story or make a connection to a trend.

(One last thought: are green building sales really that far behind those of hybrid vehicles? Some recent research indicates that homes with green features are in high demand, and are commanding higher prices. Social proof, in and of itself!)

Lots to learn from Toyota – but should you emulate their marketing strategy to promote your construction business, architectural firm, manufacturing company, or other small to medium sized enterprise?

No way.

The image-building marketing strategy Toyota and the other major car manufacturers follow requires a huge budget and would bankrupt most smaller companies.

A much smarter and more profitable approach for most companies is to design and implement a multi-media inbound marketing funnel  – including lead-magnet pieces such as white papers and books, compelling sales letters and landing pages, events, and drip marketing campaigns such as print and email newsletters. One study found that on average, inbound delivers 54% more leads at an average of 13% less cost per lead than is typical for traditional outbound marketing strategies.

What successful marketing strategies have you used that could help market green homes?

How to Turn Your To-Do List into a “TA-DA!” List: Productivity Tips from Life Coach Bonnie Pond

Bonnie revealed her simple formula for getting more of what you want out of life.

Scary To Do ListWell, here we are at the end of March. One quarter of the year, already gone!

Quick – think back. Way back…about three months ago. What was on your mind?

Could it have been…your New Year’s resolutions?

What goals did you tell yourself you WOULD GET DONE this year?

How about it – how are they coming along? Have you accomplished them already? Are you at least 25% of the way there?

Or have you fallen prey to the waves of “hafta’s” and “gotta do’s” that dash so many people’s hopes of achieving their goals each year?

According to University of Scranton research, only 8% of Americans achieve their New Years’ goals each year.* Pretty sobering, eh?

So, what do you think? Want to be an 8 Percenter?

I sure do. So I have been diligently writing down my goals and trying to keep up with my To Do list every day.

I was doing ok at it…

but man oh, man…did you ever see a To-Do list with teeth?

Sometimes I felt like my goals were eating me alive…without my even getting all that close to the ones that mattered! Bonnie Pond

All that changed when I met this lovely lady.

Bonnie Pond is an amazing woman. She is an educator and an entrepreneur, has managed several retail businesses, run a battered women’s shelter, and has had her own radio show. Today she is a very successful life coach and career coach, motivational speaker, workshop leader, and the author of The Power of Three, How to Be Happy and Get What You Want in Life (Without Doing Anything Illegal, Immoral, or Unethical).

Bonnie was kind enough to speak with me last month about goals.

If you are at all interested in learning how to set the right goals for you and actually achieve them, so you can get more of what you want out of life without killing yourself getting there, then I highly recommend listening to this interview:

Anne Michelsen Interviews Bonnie Pond on Achieving Goals

(In case you are wondering, don’t worry –  we’re not selling anything here. There’s no pitch at the end, and you won’t be hounded by any pop-up windows. Just good, honest information you can use to transform your business and/or your life.

 Yes, I know we are all swamped with such a deluge of information, that it’s nearly impossible to sort out the really important stuff from everything else clamoring for our attention these days -let alone actually get it done. Bonnie’s insights can help with that. So read on, and listen!)

During our conversation, Bonnie revealed her simple formula for getting more of what you want out of life.

I’ve been putting what she taught me into practice, and so far her system is helping me meet my daily goals feeling far more relaxed and happy with myself than previously. Just as importantly, I’m also making strides towards a particular long-term goal that’s been taunting me for years.

Here is an excerpt from the interview in which Bonnie reveals a couple of tips that I’ve found particularly helpful:

 How to Turn Your To-Do List into a TA-DA! List

Anne Michelsen:

Well, I was really, really interested in having you come on right now because it’s that time of the year when a lot of us look around and think, ‘Oh my gosh. What happened to those (New Year’s) goals? I’m just sort of back in the rut.’ And you have a lot of experience in helping people get out of that rut and really start to reach for the stars.

Bonnie Pond:

Yes, and you know, it just is human nature to start beating ourselves up when we don’t reach those goals and so if we can start to set goals a little bit differently then I think there’s some real great strategies and some techniques that make it much easier to realistically get what you want.

One of the things that I see a lot is that people sometimes set goals because of somebody else. (Because) somebody thinks you should do it or (because) you think that ‘I should want to do this’ or ‘I’m going to set this goal to please my family.’

Now, the truth of the matter is if you don’t set a goal that’s meaningful to you the chances are you’re not going to do it.

For example I’ve been bugging my husband to quit smoking for years and years and years, and every year his New Year’s resolution is ‘I’m going to quit smoking.’ And by January 3, he’s sneaking the old cigarettes again. That’s because it’s not meaningful to him. He doesn’t see that that’s something he really wants to do.

So, I’d say the first thing for making a realistic goal is make sure that you know that it’s something that you really care about. If you don’t care about achieving it, if it’s not significant enough to you, find another goal because you’re not going to do it anyway.


You know what, that’s a really great point. There are some of us, myself included, who are real people-pleaser types, and for somebody like that it can sometimes be hard to differentiate what is really your real goal and what is really coming from an outside source.


That’s a great point. Well, here’s something that I’ve always told clients. You have to know what you really want in life, and by that I mean what is your big picture? Where do you see yourself say five years down the road?

The reason I ask people to start with that and spend their time thinking it through is because if you can make a very specific picture in your mind – or even write it down – of where you want to be five years from now, it’s so motivating. Knowing what’s really important to you makes it much easier not cave in to what somebody else thinks you should do because you know what your big picture is. You know this particular person’s goal for you…is just not fitting into what (you) really want in (your) life.

So I think that starting with that big picture, thinking about it very, very clearly is a way to focus in on what’s important to you, not what’s important to everybody else. And I know that pressures from other people are really hard but if you know specifically this is what’s really and truly important to (you) then you know where you want to focus your energy.

Anne :

Do you have any tips for keeping that big picture in mind and not losing it?


Yes. I actually do and this is one that I have to say I learned the hard way. And keeping that big picture in mind is, for myself anyway, is to write about it as if I’m already there in five years. Make it first person and make it as it’s happening now.

But beyond that, taking that five years and then breaking it down, chunking it up because five years is a big span of time and you can put a lot of goals into that five-year period and then it becomes so overwhelming. So breaking it down into where do I want to be in five years.

Okay. That’s great. Now, what about in three years and what about in a year? And keep breaking it down, breaking it down, breaking it down from one year to one month to one week, and finally down to one day because if it’s one day you can do one day, but if it’s five years it’s like, oh my gosh.

And when it’s a five-year plan, if you don’t break it down further, here’s what happens. You go into someday thinking, I’ll get to that someday, but someday never comes. So (break) it down into smaller and smaller chunks. I just call it chunking it out. Break it down and keep it short, make a daily list.

I’m a list maker but I’ve learned also the hard way about list making. I used to make these huge long lists of things that I was going to do today. My husband would look at it and he’d say, ‘It would take a platoon of Marines a week to do this and you think you can do it all by yourself in one day.’

And I would always feel at the end of the day like, oh my gosh, I didn’t get anything done because I had 27 things on my list. Of course I didn’t get them all done.


I can so relate to that because I’m a to-do list maker as well and I’ve kind of come to that too. It’s like well, okay, let’s just put down the really important stuff.


Yes. And here’s what I suggest to everybody that I work with: What are the three most important things that you need to accomplish today to get you just a little bit closer, even it’s a baby step closer, to where you want to be?

No more than your three highest priority items go on your list. You can then focus your energy on them and you get them done.

Now if you finish them and you’ve got lots of time left, great, make another list of three. But no more than three items on your list because when you do that you see immediate daily progress and we all need to see progress for…if we’re not seeing progress we give up because that’s in our nature to say, ‘I’ve worked on this for a month and nothing is happening. Maybe I’m on the wrong track or maybe my goal is wrong,’ whatever.

But if you can see immediate daily progress that really makes a difference. And what I call those are ta-da lists. They’re not to-do lists. They’re ta-da. So when you get those three things done ta-da, I did it.


Nice Ta-DA list copyI love it.

I absolutely love that “TA-DA!” because it just changes your whole perception of the list, from one of “oh-my-gosh-can-I-even-get-through-this-today” to “This is the stuff that’s really going to get me places!”

And the sense of accomplishment when you get those three things done can’t be beat. It’s a real motivator.

Now, don’t miss the rest of the interview because there are some real secrets to making this system work that I don’t want you to miss.

Get them here when you listen to my interview with Bonnie Pond.

For instance, Bonnie reveals specific strategies for how to successfully navigate the “middle ground” of goal achievement (where most people get bogged down and never make it).

She also tells about the super-important element your goals achievement strategy must have to keep going strong after your first few successes (without it, you’ll almost certainly lose momentum).

And, my favorite: the three types of people you need to surround yourself with in order to keep you focused and not just reaching for the stars, but actually getting there!

Take a listen, and try Bonnie’s system for yourself. Then come back here and let us know how it transformed your life!


My monthly e-newsletters each contain a link to full-length transcripts of all my interviews with guests, with annotated highlights for easy scanning. Sign up here for access!


*Be careful what you read into this 8% statistic. Turns out, 38% of Americans never make New Years’ resolutions at all! So statistically, your chances of success just went up substantially if you are one of the 62% who did. Now get hopping, and see if you can’t help us boost that percentage just a little higher! 🙂

Green Copywriter Earns Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification

Green Ink Copywriting is proud to announce that its principal, Anne Michelsen, has earned the designation of ‘Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers’ through American Artists and Writers, Inc. (AWAI), a leading publisher of direct-response copywriting, travel writing, photography and graphic design courses.

Dan Kennedy copywriter certificationFOOSLAND, IL –  Green Ink Copywriting is proud to announce that its principal, Anne Michelsen, has earned the designation of ‘Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers’ through American Artists and Writers, Inc. (AWAI), a leading publisher of direct-response copywriting, travel writing, photography and graphic design courses.

Dan Kennedy is one of the most sought-after marketing consultants in the country. He is widely credited as having been instrumental in the development of the information marketing industry as well as the use of inbound marketing to promote traditional businesses.  He developed his copywriter certification course in conjunction with AWAI, in order to help remedy a perceived shortage of copywriters equipped to handle the unique demands of info-marketing clients.

Info-marketing refers to the online or offline sale of information products such as traditional books, audio programs, videos, or DVDs; magazines; newsletters; e-books; membership websites and clubs; teleseminars and webinars; telecoaching programs; and seminars and conferences—and combinations thereof. The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study in preparation for such copywriting.

InfoMarketing Association President Robert Skrob applauds the program. “Dan Kennedy’s Copywriter Certification Program creates a key resource for growing information marketers, copywriters who understand the business. In the info-marketing business, there’s always copy to be written, call notices, conference promotions and product sales letters. Having a stable of certified copywriters who understand the info-marketing business is a terrific shortcut.”

Anne Michelsen founded Green Ink Copywriting in 2008. She provides revenue-boosting copywriting, PR, and social media services to corporations and nonprofits as well as info-marketers. Anne has special expertise in sustainability and green product promotion, and is one of the most knowledgeable copywriters in the country on FTC green marketing compliance. Her free monthly green marketing tips and e-course on how to identify and sell to the 6 types of green consumer are available at

For more information, contact Green Ink Copywriting here.



7 Ways to Capture More of Those Trade Show Leads

Next time you exhibit, don’t make the mistake of letting the bulk of your leads sink into the cold depths of anonymity. Hook ’em instead with one of the trade show lead capture methods listed here.

photo credit: mariusz kluzniak via photopin cc

A group of trade show prospects is like an iceberg. The number of attendees at any given trade show who are actively looking for what you offer is (like the tip of the iceberg) dwarfed by the number of attendees who may not be in the market for your goods and services NOW, but have a reasonable chance of needing them in the future.

I’m always amazed at how many companies invest countless hours and thousands of dollars into appearing at trade shows, yet routinely let these potentially lucrative future sales sink into the abyss.

Not collecting contact information from those “bottom of the iceberg” prospects and getting their permission to stay in touch with them is just as wasteful to your company’s long-term sustainability as leaving your windows open to the winter winds.

Well, ok, maybe it won’t change your carbon footprint. But it will hurt your ability to stay in business. And if your company goes belly up, why then all your corporate championing of the environment goes with it. And you’ll be working for the competition.

So, with that in mind, let’s talk about how to get those potential future prospects interested enough in your company to give you (at least) their names and email addresses, so you can continue to market to them.

Trade Show Lead Magnets

Here are some proven methods for trade show lead generation:

  • Your newsletter – If you are demonstrating the value of what you offer, which you should absolutely be doing at a trade show, many people will happily sign up to your newsletter list IF you have a sign-up form readily available. (You DO have a company newsletter, don’t you?)  You can sweeten the deal by offering a coupon or useful information as a reward.
  • Drawings for prizes – you’ll likely get a lot of leads for a prize drawing, but they may be lower quality leads (i.e., a lot of people who are really not interested in your product, but who would like to win the prize.) Choose your prize carefully to appeal primarily to your best prospects.
  • Offer of useful information in return for their contact information – white paper, book, video, etc. You’ll probably get fewer leads this way than with a prize drawing, but because the information you’re offering is (hopefully) highly targeted, they’ll be of higher quality; i.e. more likely to be real prospects. By the way, nothing wrong with offering multiple info pieces, each targeted towards a different industry problem and/or subset of your customer base.
  • Item giveaways – A lot of companies give out promotional items, but most of these are a waste. Try to figure out a promotional item that will actually get used (so your brand gets a bit of exposure) and can result in lead capture. Example: a Frisbee (pen, tote bag, whatever)printed with an invitation to sign up for a monthly prize drawing on your website. (For ideas on finding eco-friendlier promotional items, see my article on the topic here.)
  • Surveys – A carefully constructed survey can reveal a lot about your prospects and how to market to them. Many people are curious about the results of the survey they take; ask for their contact information and promise to send them this information once it’s compiled. (Of course you will use this as another opportunity to present the benefts of what you offer. Right?)
  • Samples – have people sign up to receive a free or discounted product sample sent to them. This can work especially well when you will be launching a new product soon, as it creates buzz around the product.
  • Contests – Run a contest and allow people to enter it right at your trade booth. This has the added advantage of keeping them engaged after the event.

How much contact information is too much to ask for?

The more expensive your product and the longer the sales cycle, the more information you should ask for. Also, the better the “goodies” you’re offering, the more information you should ask for.

If your product is of mass appeal and relatively inexpensive, your best bet is to go for sheer number of contacts. This is especially true if your product is likely to be an impulse buy. In that case, ask for just the name and email (or the minimum amount of information you’ll need to contact them).

If it will cost you a fair amount to contact them (i.e. if you’re offering to mail them a book or free product samples), always ask for their full information, including mailing address, email, phone and fax (if applicable.)

It is a good idea to disclose that you’ll be sending them periodic information. This need not be a turn-off, and you can even position it as a bonus. Just treat them with respect, and make sure they can opt out of any email correspondence, and you’re good to go.

Next time you exhibit, don’t make the mistake of letting the bulk of your leads sink into the cold depths of anonymity. Hook ’em with one of the methods above. (Or one of your own. Got any suggestions? Post ’em below!)

And then – don’t forget to follow up, respectfully but assertively. More on that in a future post!


What’s Love Got to Do With Doing Business?

Most of us don’t think of love as being an important aspect of business. Sustainable change agent Giles Hutchins explains why it is, and how to help your company tap into the power of love.

Giles Hutchins, author, The Nature of BusinessA while back I stumbled across a video on YouTube that struck me as very provocative and very, very important. The video was entitled The Future of Business, and in it the man on the screen mentioned the importance in business of – of all things – love.

When most of us think about business, love is just about the last thing that comes to mind. However, this man was talking about love as something very primary in the shift to a sustainable future, which includes the way we do business.

“This man” was Giles Hutchins, a business change agent who has worked in business for nearly 20 years, formally as management consultant for KPMG and then as global director of sustainability for Atos International. Giles specializes in taking inspiration from nature and applying it to sustainable business transformation. By that he means not just trading conventional technologies for ones that are less destructive, but a true transformation to a new paradigm, one that is inspired by and in harmony with nature.

Giles is also the author of The Nature of Business: Redesign for Resilience, an excellent book which explores how the increasingly unpredictable, interconnected and uncertain nature of business in modern society calls for a more emergent, dynamic approach to organizations and leadership.

Giles was kind enough to agree to speak with me via Skype earlier this month to further explain the importance of love in business.

(You can listen to the full interview here: Interview with Giles Hutchins on love in business)

Giles maintains that the biggest problems we face as a society today cannot be solved through technology alone, because they are not a product of technology.  Rather, he attributes the root cause of our environmental crisis to an “inherent anti-life approach,” which, he says, stems from an illusion of separation.

“We tend to see ourselves as separate from each other and from the world around us. And the way in which we manage our businesses today… is very much rooted in this sense of separation of self from nature.

Snakes and Vultures watercolor painting in progress

“(But) if we look at how reality really works, how nature operates, how organisms live, how each of us thrive and survive in the world, we actually realize that nothing, absolutely nothing is completely separate from anything else.

“And so it’s important, I think, to come with that (more natural kind of) thinking if we’re then going to start dealing with some of these profound challenges that we face today, otherwise we add to the illusion of separation which causes further downstream ramifications… We need to get to the root cause of the challenges that are now facing us…

“Love as deep attunement of our ego self, with our true self; of our conscious mind, with our unconscious imaginable presence; of our soul with the World Soul; of our rational mind with intuitive heart. Love is awakening to the divine presence flowing through every action, every moment, every relationship, every interaction that we undertake.

“So it’s a foundation, an all-pervasive presence flowing through everything, which is fundamental for us to tune into. We’ve lost that deeper sense of Love; re-embodying and re-member that Love helps us see beyond the illusion of separation.”

Illustration: Hands with glowing heart

While love is an abstract concept, its effect is real and very tangible. However, it’s not something that can be mandated into a company’s DNA. Rather, it flows out from individuals within an organization.

“There are many organizations that perhaps people wouldn’t think of (being based on love), which have people in them that are inspired by love, and perhaps those people may only be inspired by love for just 10 or 15 minutes of their day…

“…there are examples of organizations that have a purpose-driven, value-based organization…but I think it’s important to realize that we all are individuals working in organizations and perhaps through our lives we sometimes have moments when we are “in love,” when we’re flowing, we’re deeply attuned, focused on the activity, loving the activity that we’re doing, and therefore what we’re doing is laced with love. (That is what I mean by being) in love, that we are deeply resonating with what we’re doing.

“For instance I could talk to people in a call center and you know, many of them may be disenchanted with what they’re doing, just doing it purely to meet the bills and to pay off debts, yet you can come across someone who clearly is motivated and enjoying what they’re doing, and have a conversation which is quite different – a love-based sharing – and in that moment inspired by love.

“Everything has interrelationships, and our environment clearly has a massive impact of how we are and how we feel.

“And so if you have a culture that’s very much ‘anti-life’ (highly competitive and carcinogenic) that rubs off on us, it’s very difficult for us to then be inspired by love.

“Yet we create an environment through our own interactions which then contributes to a wider environment which might then inspire team members, which may then go on to inspire other teams in the organization, which then either helps that business unit or the wider culture. That’s a bottom-up approach.

“Vice versa you can have a top-down approach where you have purpose-driven leaders creating space for an environment based on love, recognizing that people are more motivated and more creative if they’re actually coming from love; recognizing the importance of that for organizations in these challenging times.

“And of course it’s a mixture of both. It’s neither top-down nor bottom. Both of those are kind of old ways of looking at things.  We affect the change through the actions and interactions that we do. There are catalysts like leadership and creating a culture that help foster a loving environment.

“Having worked at different levels in organizations and consulted for a variety of different people from people on the shop floor right through to global CEOs, (I’d say that) it often seems everybody has the same challenges and barriers to love.

“Take someone on the shop floor who’s saying, ‘Well yes, but what can I do to change the organization? Well it’s not first-and-foremost about ‘changing the organization’ or ‘the world’, but rather changing what you are doing and how you are being. That person has similar challenges, barriers and fears as a global CEO would have in that regard. And of course both of them have just the same amount of opportunity if they choose. So part of it is an attitude. It’s a way of attending our attention, and our quality of awareness is all part of that.”

As it turns out, some of the world’s largest corporations – including Apple, Yahoo, General Mills, and IBM – are catching on to the benefits of Incorporating mindfulness and other love-centered practices into the workplace.

For example, Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” employee training was described by one participant as “organizational WD-40, a necessary lubricant between driven, ambitious employees and Google’s demanding corporate culture,” who added that “helping employees handle stress and defuse emotion helps everyone work more effectively.”

This and similar voluntary programs have been widely reported to improve focus and productivity, increase employee satisfaction, improve communication, and reduce stress in the workplace.

I asked Giles what he would recommend to enable the switch to a more love-centered business or even to enable one’s employees or coworkers. He replied:

(A lot of organizations are trying) to bring in a greater clarity of awareness and sense of purpose into their organization, which helps people slow down and…sense with how they’re acting and interacting.

And so it’s a sense of presence, whether that is having 10 minutes of silence at the beginning and end of every day, or encouraging people in work-breaks to engage in contemplative practices such as meditation or having meetings walking in the park, or doing some stretches or yoga. Things like that, which help align the mind, body and soul in the workplace which is essentially healthy for the business.

Some of that is at a personal level, encouraging people to be aware of certain things. And by the way this isn’t in any way a kind of propaganda or mainstream sort of education put on people. It’s very much there as an invitation and general awareness for people to take or leave as they wish. Everybody is on their own journey and a part of this is recognizing that.

And at perhaps a more systemic level in the organization is recognizing what kind of leaders that you want in your business. How do you emulate success in the organization? What type of people do you want leading other people? And I think this is about walking your talk. And so leaders who are actually leading from the heart, who are leading with love, are the ones that are going to help emulate a culture like that in the organization.

Listen to the full interview with Giles Hutchins here.

To explore Giles Hutchins’ work further, visit

How have you experienced the effect of love in business? How has it made a difference in your organization or in your life?

The Silent Crowd of Customers Many Green Companies Ignore

Many eco-responsible businesspeople only market online because they think it’s more sustainable. But they’re out there – a silent crowd of customers who prefer to do business offline.

I was in the post office just before Christmas and couldn’t help but overhear the conversation taking place in line ahead of me:

“I just ordered a book from Amazon. It’s the first time I’ve ever ordered something online.”

“Oh really? Pretty convenient, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I don’t know, it makes me nervous.”

“Oh, well, with Amazon I think you’re OK.”

“That’s right – they’re so big I’m sure they keep up with security. But I don’t think I’d trust most sites.”

If you’re like me and spend a lot of time online, it may be hard to believe. But they’re out there – a silent crowd of customers who prefer to do business offline.

Many of them may be your ideal prospects, especially if your products appeal to the older generations and/or a rural audience. Ignore them and their needs, and you may be shortchanging yourself badly. (As well as refusing them the pleasure and benefits of doing business with you, and potentially forcing them towards options that are less environmentally responsible.)

Many eco-responsible businesspeople avoid offline marketing because they believe digital media are more sustainable than traditional media – particularly because of the consumption of paper.

However, I believe that when done responsibly, print need not be any less sustainable than paper, and integrating print media into your marketing mix can really benefit your environmentally responsible business.

What’s your opinion? Do you avoid marketing your business offline? Why or why not?

Paper and Sustainability: Interview with John Fields of J&A Printing

John FieldsAre digital media really more sustainable than paper?

That’s the common conception – that posting something online has little to no environmental impact, while paper represents waste.

But have you ever stopped to analyze this assumption?

John Fields has.

John Fields is a sales rep for J & A printing in Hiawatha, IA, He is also a regular attendee at LOHAS and other sustainability conferences, is a member of the Regional Sustainable Business Alliance in Cedar Rapids, IA, and continues to educate himself about what sustainability is.

Last month, John was kind enough to agree to speak to me about paper and business sustainability.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

John had a lot of fascinating things to say about the topic, but I especially wanted to share his thoughts on the digital vs. paper conundrum. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:


Anne Michelsen:

So, a lot of people look at the use of print, they look at the papers, the inks, everything that’s used, and they think, “Oh, I won’t go there. Let’s just stick with digital because it’s a lot more sustainable.” How can a sustainably-minded company justify the use of print? And is it really any more difficult on the environment than digital? Because I know there’s a lot of issues with digital, as well.

 John Fields:

Well, when I first agreed to this interview, I did some looking online for facts and figures on sustainability and printing, and I came away way more confused than I was before.  I found that there’s so many statistics online to support whatever view you want them to have. Some of them go back to the 90s and were referring to studies back in the 90s, which are really no longer relevant. But if you look at the sustainability of print versus digital, I think that there’s room for both. Of course, I embrace the digital, I have all the gadgets, and the computers. And I like to file my things electronically so I don’t have a messy desk.

But if you look at sustainability with the advent of FSC-certified papers – Forest Stewardship Council certified – the sustainability of paper has come a long way. Just last week I saw an article, I believe online, that said that carbon emissions in the United States are going down while carbon emissions in China are going up.

Anne Michelsen:


John Fields:

And most of your digital products are, where are they produced? China.

Anne Michelsen:

This is true.

John Fields:

Several years ago I went to a conference where they went paperless. By the way, I have a blog with a terrarium in it that has a biodegradable cup that you can watch online biodegrading. So, when I went to this specific conference, I put an old Blackberry in there and a piece of paper with a note and the date on it and it said, “Tell me which one of these will biodegrade first.” So, I now look at paper as sustainable. It’s biodegradable, it’s renewable. It is compostable and it’s recyclable. All of the above. You look at the electronic device you use for your phone, it comes from nothing that’s renewable. They’re starting to do better on some recycling now, but it’s not biodegradable. And it becomes outdated so fast that you’re literally changing them year to year.

I’d like to say, too, if you take a book and a DVD, put them in a time capsule, and in a hundred years, open that time capsule. And just try and find a DVD player (to play that DVD)…

The first LOHAS Forum I went to, I was challenged. I made the statement, “We use vegetable oil.” And I remember the one person that I said that to said, “Well, what’s the mean?” And at that point, I realized I have to be able to back up what I’m saying. I have to know what I’m talking about for people to understand what I’m saying. So, I created the blog to kind of chronicle what I’ve been doing and what I’ve been learning on it.

Anne Michelsen:

And that’s an excellent take away point for anybody that’s marketing green products is that it’s so important to document anything, any statement that you make. The FTC has regulations that, you know, if you make a green claim about a product, you have to have scientific documentation. People who are interested in green products are very, very up on it and they will catch you if, like you experienced, if you don’t have that. So, excellent idea to post that on a blog.

John Fields:

That’s very interesting because just yesterday I was contacted by the QA auditor for for Frontier Natural Products here at their location in Iowa. For most of their products, we use New Leaf papers. And New Leaf has an eco audit that they use that tells us how many resources were saved by using that paper, their QA person wanted us to verify that the eco audit statement was accurate, and she wanted to see documentation on how we came up with that. That we used the paper we said we were going to use and the number of sheets. We’ve got a complete procedure in place for that.

We also are FSC certified. I push FSC paper wherever I can.

Anne Michelsen:


John Fields:

I feel FSC is probably more important than recycled paper, in fact.

Anne Michelsen:

I was going to ask you about that. The difference between using recycled paper and FSC paper. And why would you go with the virgin FSC paper rather than recycled?

John Fields:

FSC just means that the paper that you’re buying comes from pulp that comes from a forest that was properly managed. And there’s quite a bit that goes into what that properly managed forest is. They’re not doing any clear cutting and things like that. So, I can say if I sell you a postcard and say, “This is on FSC paper,” I could show you the chain of custody all the way back to the forest it came from. Where that paper came from. Everybody has to sign off on it and document that they handled this paper. We have a whole set of procedures we have to follow. FSC auditors come in once a year and they audit us. And it’s a real audit, we have to verify everything we do for them. We do sell paper that’s not FSC certified, I’m not saying that it doesn’t come from a properly managed forest, but it’s just that it doesn’t have the chain of custody on it. But everybody I talk to, new customers, old customers, if I can switch them over to FSC certified paper, I do.

End of excerpt. Listen to my interview with John Fields in its entirety here.

(You can see the terrarium mentioned in the interview for yourself on John’s blog, along with the adventures of its resident, Bart the Biodegrader. – A.M. 🙂 )

The takeaway points:

Every marketing message carries an environmental impact. The important thing is to be as responsible as possible with the media you choose to use.

Consider John’s observations:

    • Most electronic products are made overseas and have to be shipped long distances to reach US consumers, consuming large amounts of fossil fuel.
    • Electronics have a short life span and need to be replaced frequently, resulting in resource consumption and landfill waste.
    • Electronics often contain environmentally toxic components. Yes, so does ink. But a large percentage of electronics are “recycled” overseas with little to no concern for the environment, under conditions which expose workers – often children – to notoriously hazardous conditions.
    • I might add that storage of digital information consumes huge amounts of energy. (See graph, courtesy of Alliance Trust Investments.)

data center electricity use graph

While using even FSC certified paper is not without its environmental implications,  domestically produced paper made with eco-certified wood is renewable, biodegradable, and relatively local.

Rather than vilifying one or the other, as marketers it makes sense to do as John suggests and use both digital and print media as responsibly as possible. (Especially in light of his observation later in the interview that he’s seeing a lot of customers come back to print after trying to go paperless because they find integrating print into their promotions to be more effective.)

What is your experience? Do you use print media to promote your environmentally responsible business? Why or why not?

If you would like a full, annotated transcript, sign up for my newsletter – I include a link to the transcripts for this and other interviews in each issue.


A cheap, easy tool for scheduling your social media posts

I’m now managing a couple of client social media accounts, and just wanted to let you know about one of my favorite tools for scheduling posts.

Buffer logoI’m now managing a couple of client social media accounts, and just wanted to let you know about Buffer. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to schedule your Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn updates in advance.

The nice thing about Buffer is that it gives you tremendous flexibility. If you have messages that are appropriate for all your platforms, you only have to post them once and it’s done. Yet it allows you to post to individual social media accounts, too. And it’s easy to reschedule posts if need be.

You can schedule up to ten posts at a time with the free version, but I recommend upgrading. For 10 bucks a month you can schedule unlimited posts. This lets you work much more efficiently because you can consolidate your social media time by scheduling ahead weeks or even months.

Is it flawless? No. But the company does have an awesome customer support team. I give them a solid A-. If you have been struggling to keep up with your social media, give it a try. (Or call me. Or both!) 🙂

Rock LinkedIn in 2014! LinkedIn expert Sherry Sexton shares her secrets to success

Not sure how to get the most benefit from the world’s most popular social site for business? LinkedIn expert Sherry Sexton shares dozens of juicy tips to help you rock LinkedIn in 2014 and beyond in this exclusive podcast interview.

Sherry Sexton, LinkedIn expertWhatever your business networking needs, LinkedIn is a great place to go. But so often I speak to people who tell me, “I’m on LinkedIn, but honestly, I have no idea how to use it.”

If that’s you – or if you are already using LinkedIn but want to get even more benefit from it, you’re in luck! I recently had the great good fortune to interview LinkedIn expert Sherry Sexton. Sherry was kind enough to share dozens of juicy tips to help you rock LinkedIn in 2014 and beyond!

Click here for audio interview with LinkedIn expert Sherry Sexton

I’ve posted Sherry’s entire interview as a podcast. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Don’t use your logo on your personal profile. LinkedIn can shut you down for that. Save it for your business page.
  • Instead of using the default “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn” connection invitation, personalize it for the individual. You’ll stand out from the crowd, and they’ll be more likely to accept.
  • Fill out your profile completely, and use relevant keywords when you do. You’ll attract the right people so much more easily!

The full interview also includes great tips on:

  • Exactly what kind of profile picture to use to increase trust and authority on LinkedIn
  • What never to do on LinkedIn – do it often enough and you could get kicked off the platform
  • How choose LinkedIn groups to join and what to do once you’ve joined them
  • And much more

Listen to interview with LinkedIn expert Sherry Sexton

Check it out. Whether you’re looking for B2B customers, need business advice, are looking for a new job, or just want to connect with other like-minded business people, you’re sure to learn something from Sherry to improve your LinkedIn experience. I sure did!

How about yourself – are you a LinkedIn whiz with tips to share? Do you have questions about how to use LinkedIn effectively? Post them below!

My newsletter subscribers will receive a written transcript of this and future interviews, with all the useful tips highlighted. You can, too. Just sign up here!



Not sure what to put on Pinterest? Handy infographic offers dozens of board ideas for your pinning pleasure

Do you have a business you know could benefit from exposure on Pinterest, but you’re not quite sure how to start? No worries. Just check out this fabulous infographic, courtesy of Pinterest expert Andrea Ayers, for dozens of great ideas sure to attract not just traffic, but customers targeted specifically for your business.

Pinterest logoDo you have a business you know could benefit from exposure on Pinterest, but you’re not quite sure how to start? No worries. Just check out this fabulous infographic, courtesy of Pinterest expert Andrea Ayers, for dozens of great ideas sure to attract not just traffic, but customers targeted specifically for your business.

Notice especially Andrea’s suggestions suitable for all entrepreneurs. How many of these items are ones you already have at your fingertips? Do you have a blog? Pin your posts! Already have case studies or success stories written up? Pin ’em! Same goes with press mentions, your social media profiles, and any free reports or brochures you distribute. And if you have a smart phone, get into the habit of snapping photos your customers will find interesting – both within your business and outside of it.

All these things will load your Pinterest boards with original content, which is the very best thing for attracting relevant traffic.

launchgrowjoy 142-Pinterest-board-ideas-infographic

Do you use Pinterest for business? Have a board you’re especially proud of? Please share below!