Deeper investment in being green needed to sustain validity

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In this issue's Spotlight, Sam Pulcrano of the US Postal Service shares the agency's plans on sustainability, as well as his own views on the environment. He makes it clear that the agency's involvement in eco-friendly practices is not new.

With the enormous recent growth and emphasis on the green movement, sometimes it's difficult to navigate among who's green, who's just promoting a green image and who's investing in being green but isn't quite there yet. Marketers are faced with two perilous sides of this issue. They must develop an environmentally responsible image, or else sales or positive word of mouth suffer. However, that image must be more than just a claim in order to achieve validity in the marketplace and save the firm money and resources over the long term.

The Federal Trade Commission has released guidelines for environmental claims, but the marketers most successful at portraying their environmental ambitions are those who have moved beyond adding cute taglines or green logos to their products. These firms are undergoing in-house audits of all their energy use. They're putting practices in place that will make future technology investments and messaging adhere to standards. Integrating this with consumer education cam­paigns adds the flash that will attract consumers and high­light all earlier efforts and investments made in sustainability. A recent push from energy company ConEdison included both energy saving tips for its bill payers and a drive to move more of its customers to online billing systems,

Green marketing requires long-term planning and upfront investment, beyond that of a typical campaign run. Lead generation-savvy marketers have a wealth of strategic knowl­edge about harvesting and replenishing customers. But those strategies need to translate into using all the resources that a company has in a sustainable way.

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