28 Sustainable Ideas for your Green Lumpy Mail Promotion

pebblesFollowing are some ideas for eco-friendly objects you can use in your next 3-D mail campaign, as well as sample concepts for working them into your promotions.

Natural objects:

Nuts – “I must be nuts to be offering discounts this deep” “Are high heating bills driving you nuts?” “Let’s get cracking on a solution!”

Acorn –  “Mighty oaks from tiny acorns” – could work for insurance, any kind of investment.

Pine cones, leaves – Marquette, Michigan home improvement contractors The Window Store once sent a mailing to existing customers promoting their gutter cleaning services.  Along with the sales letter, they included a handful of pine needles and leaves raked from an employee’s back yard.  The letter was extremely successful, bringing in enough business to keep their crews busy for several weeks.

Seashell – gift from Nature; emphasizes your company’s respect for the environment.

Shark tooth – “Eat your competition alive!” (Or, if your business has been around a long time or you’re selling a product that’s been successful for decades, make an analogy to the shark. Most of the critters that evolved at the same time as sharks are long gone, but sharks are still supremely successful creatures – you can’t really improve on their design.)

Fossil – “Still using fossil fuel?” or “Don’t let outdated [technology, etc,] make you look like a fossil.”

Flower seed packet – Great tie-in if you’re representing a product that helps businesses (or consumer savings) grow!

Live bamboo plant http://www.epromos.com/product/8815209.html – Also good for a growth theme, or for healthy living (plants are their own little air purifiers.) Or call it a “desktop meditation garden” and let people know your product will save them so much time they’ll now have time to relax.

Small rocks or pebbles – “Help is just a stone’s throw away.”

Office supplies:

Eraser – “Wipe away your troubles” (could work with a microfiber or organic cleaning cloth as well.)

Pen/pencil – These are tried and true promotional items when imprinted with your company’s name.  Promotional pens and pencils are available now in a number of eco-friendly choices, including bamboo, corn starch, and recycled paper.  Pens and pencils make great practical promotional items because they’re almost guaranteed to get used, and frequently get passed from person to person.  Make full use of them by including an involvement device in your package for which they’ll need a writing implement.

Pencil sharpener – “Let’s sharpen your advantage.”

Flash drive (USB stick) – Load it with your promotional materials. “Flashy” packaging your prospects are guaranteed to appreciate!

Sticky note pad (recycled) – Everyone uses these and they often get passed around.   Print some up with your logo and URL.  Make sure you indicate some reason to visit your website or call (white papers are great for this) – but leave plenty of room for notes!

Edibles:

Fair trade coffee – “Wake up to [your favorite benefit]!”

Organic tea bag – or how about two?  You could do a “Two for Tea” promotion or fundraiser, using the tea bags as tickets to your event.  The tea bag then gets redeemed for a prize; the extra bag lets them get their friends in on the fun, encouraging referral business. (Extra points for snide copy related to Tea Baggers!)

Organic nuts – “My wife (husband, kids, boss, dog, etc.) think(s) I’m nuts (to offer prices this low, etc.)” or  “High heating bills driving you nuts?” or “Let’s get cracking on a solution!”

Organic candy –“For the sweetest savings of the year…”

Fortune Cookies (probably best sent in a box) – Fortune cookies have insanely high open rates, and you can order them with custom messages.  And did you know you can now even get organic fortune cookies?  Why not have your prospects break theirs open to find out which one of several free gifts or discount offers they win? (The message then becomes a coupon.)

Other items

Marbles – “The boss is losing his marbles (to be offering a deal like this!)”

Pressure gauge – “Feeling pressured?” or “Take the pressure out of _____.”

Origami – From lotus flowers to sailing ships, no matter what you’d like to represent in your mailing, somebody’s probably made an origami version of it.  These folded paper objects are beautiful, intriguing and much more eco-friendly than plastic objects. True, they may not be readily available commercially, but most origami pieces are quick to make and if your mailing is small you should be able to find someone willing to earn a few bucks for folding paper into pretty shapes.  (My eleven year old daughter comes to mind!) 😉

Wooden/bamboo spoon – “Stir yourself up some savings.”

Coin – You’ve probably received mailings that had a penny or other coin glued to the sales letter, perhaps visible behind a window in the envelope.  They’re effective because no one wants to throw away money, so you can almost guarantee it’ll get opened.  Just make sure you have a killer headline to draw them in once they’ve ripped it open!

Balloons (biodegradable) – If you’re sending birthday greetings to your customers, good for you!  Make them even more special by including balloons.  Or use the balloons to spread the news of your company’s “birthday” or the birthday of a famous person related to your industry (link it to a sale or promotion, of course.)

Candle – Could be a great involvement device, especially for a nonprofit.  For example, you could ask them to light the candle on a certain night to show their support for a cause – then visit your website to pledge that they’ll do so (and hopefully make a donation, too!)

Switchplate – If you offer energy-saving services, consider printing up switchplates with your logo and a “Turn out the lights to save energy” message for your customers to use at the workplace or in their garage, basement or attic.  You could include them as a courtesy gift with your direct mail promotion, or send them as a thank-you to recent customers, along with a survey for gathering feedback and testimonials.

Book – Who would throw away a book? Especially one that addresses their needs or interests.  Books make terrific lumpy mail additions.  For maximum impact, send them one you’ve authored (or co-authored) yourself.  Best if you can subtly weave persuasion into your book along with useful information – and include a bio page with your contact information at the end.   This could well be the most powerful sales tool you ever lay hands on. (If you’re not into writing, no worries. Just hand your ideas over to a ghostwriter – like yours truly!) 🙂

As with any promotion, when you send a 3-D mailing just make sure to keep it targeted, relevant, clear and focused.  And if you’re planning a large mailing, be sure to test it on a small portion of your list first (500 names is ideal for a test run.) Good luck, and have fun!

 
photo credit: Free HDR & Photomanipulations – www.freestock.ca via photopin cc

How to Choose Sustainable Promotional Items for Your Business

Instead of printing your name on cheesy plastic, why not distribute your business presentation on  a handsome and eco-friendly bamboo flash drive like this one?
Instead of printing your name on cheesy plastic, why not distribute your business presentation on a handsome and eco-friendly bamboo flash drive like this one?

Ever go to a trade show and come away with armloads of  – excuse me – crap?  Little junky plastic things that make you feel guilty because of all the time and resources wasted in their production and distribution?  Stuff that clutters up your home and office and, when you do finally throw it out, will continue to kick around the environment for about a billion years?

Now it’s time to promote your business, and you find yourself paging through catalogs of the very same trashy plastic junk you couldn’t wait to get rid of when it was given to you!  Do you really want to put your name on that kind of stuff?

Promotional items are a fact of business life.  Done right, they can help keep you top of mind as well as calling attention to the benefits you offer.  Fortunately in this day and age there’s no reason you have to sacrifice your principles or annoy your prospects by splashing your brand all over plastic garbage only to have it chucked in the dump.

How to choose promotional products that are not just Green but “sustainable to the max”

There are two ways to define “sustainable”  promotional products:

One is  “green” promotional items.  These are items that don’t damage the environment in their manufacture and/or disposal – or at the very least are  significantly better for the Earth than traditional options.

The other refers to sustainable economics.  Does the item make sense from an economic point of view?  Will it return more in terms of business gained than you spend for it?  In other words, is it effective?  (Because if it isn’t, it’s not a sustainable venture for your business.  Get it?)

When choosing your promotional items, keep these three principles in mind:

  1. Choose promotional  items that really will get used and/or appreciated. Be honest here.  When you’re racking your brains trying to come up with green promotional product ideas it’s real easy to con yourself into believing that your prospects will really grab your cheesy flying ring instead of their favorite Wham-O next time they take their kids to the park.  (They won’t.)  Spend the extra time it takes to come up with something truly useful to your prospect.
  2. Choose products that support people and the planet. There are now plenty of eco-friendlier alternatives to plastic promotional items, including items made from bamboo, corn starch, and recycled materials.  Or how about organic, fair trade and/or local food items, or natural objects such as plants, seeds or beautiful stones?
  3. Choose promotional products that tell stories and/or reflect and highlight values. This could mean your values, the value of doing business with you, or your value to the community.  For example, let’s say you’re a builder who recently completed work on a local senior center.  Why not find out if there are seniors in the center whom you could commission to create small gift items in the shape of  a house for you to give to prospective clients?  Such a gift would help support the center and your community, highlight one of your past successes, and tell a heart-warming story about your business and how it helps improve people’s lives.  (You could even extend the item’s power by featuring the story on your website, complete with little bios of the seniors so people could “get to know” the face behind the gift they received from you.)

Choosing eco-friendly and fair promotional products demonstrates your integrity as a business.  Done thoughtfully, it’s a smart move, not just for the planet and the people on it, but for your company’s profits as well!

How to find green promotional items for your business

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer who helps Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s monthly tips and insights into Green marketing and sales writing, and enjoy her FREE 7-part e-course, Making Sense of the Green Sector:How to Identify, Engage and Sell to The 6 Types of Green Consumer.

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Marketing with a medium as old as dirt (and as clean)

Dirt and water usually lead to nothing but mud. But for clients of the Dutch advertising company Green Graffiti, mixing the two could be a recipe for profit. Whether or not you can ever see yourself hiring Green Graffiti to blast your logo onto sooty sidewalks, it’s food for thought. Many people are critical of advertising efforts as a waste of resources. What other creative ideas can we come up with that get the message across without leaving dirty footprints?

GreenGraffiti
With Green Graffiti, a business can spray their logo around while performing a public service.

Dirt and water usually lead to nothing but mud.  But for clients of the Dutch advertising company Green Graffiti, mixing the two could prove to be a recipe for profit.

Green Graffiti uses pressurized water to blast logos and simple ads onto dirty city sidewalks.  The result is an attention-getting message with minimal environmental impact.  In fact, it actually makes the sidewalk cleaner.

The company’s been around since 2006 but is just beginning to make waves in the U.S.  Earlier this month, Domino’s Pizza had their logos sprayed on the sidewalks of New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.  They even turned the event into an interactive experience:  the first 250 people who turned in photos of the logos won a $15 gift certificate for a pizza.  (A challenge for you – and for me:  How can we take our next great marketing idea and make it even better?)

Whether or not you can ever see yourself hiring Green Graffiti to blast your logo onto sooty sidewalks, it’s food for thought.   Many people are critical of advertising efforts as a waste of resources.  What other creative ideas can we come up with that get the message across without leaving dirty footprints?

Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer specializing in helping Green and renewable energy companies enjoy increased attention and greater sales through dynamic sales copy and insightful content.

Subscribe to Anne’s bi-weekly tips and insights into marketing, sales writing and sustainability, and get a complimentary copy of her Green marketing report, Making Sense of the Green Sector: What Every Marketer Should Know About Selling Sustainable Products and Services.