There are as many avenues to educating your customers as there are ways to market to them. And the good news is, all your education attempts add up to effective marketing, too! Here are some good places to start:
· Write articles about green issues and (depending upon your target market) submit them to local, national/international or trade publications.
· Hold workshops and invite your customers and prospects.
· Exhibit at trade fairs and business expos – and make sure you have plenty of good information to engage people and get them thinking about you as the expert.
· Get speaking engagements. This will educate people about sustainability as well as making them aware of your business and what you offer and building trust in you as an authority. If your business is local, try contacting churches in your area. A lot of them are really starting to get interested in sustainability as a spiritual act. They are hungry to know more and will thank you for the favor of coming out to speak! (Don’t try to do a hard sell when you’re speaking to church groups, but it’s usually fine to give them informational pieces with your logo and contact info.) Business groups are also good ones to speak to. Try your local Chamber of Commerce.
· Offer information kits, free reports and case studies to your clientele. When you give people helpful, in-depth information on topics that interest them they develop a sense of gratitude and relationship to you, and are more likely to turn to you as an authority.
· Keep educating your existing customers. Send a newsletter or e-zine out at least quarterly; once a month is even better. Including environmental education messaging on packaging is another great idea. Make it fun for your customers by holding contests and other events they can participate in and invite their friends.
· Blog regularly (once or twice a week is fine). When you blog on a topic of interest to your social media friends, post it and tweet it out. (But only if it truly is good information and not just a thinly disguised sales pitch.)
· Make videos about the same topics you speak or write about. Your videos don’t have to be high tech as long as you present good ideas. Even on a limited budget you can buy a little flip video camera for under $50 that will do the trick.
Get in the habit of videotaping any speeches you make, or even just capturing your thoughts on camera in your office, or documenting the positive changes your company is making. Put your videos to work for you by posting them on your blog, putting them on a CD or thumb drive and giving them to prospects or customers, using them as premiums for lead generation, or distributing them to the same kinds of groups you speak to.
· Don’t forget your website. Add articles, case studies, videos and the like as extra pages. Doing so can help with your search engine rankings, increase the amount of time people spend on your site, and increase the chances of people linking to your site and/or coming back for multiple visits.
The important thing to remember is that consumer education is an ongoing process. Do it consistently, one idea at a time, and always tie your statements back to positive personal benefits. Over time, your efforts will make a difference!