Let’s talk about green marketing messaging

I want you to imagine yourself holding a bowling ball. It’s pretty heavy right? Now someone comes along and hands you a second. No sweat. You can hang on to both.

But wait, he’s returning with a third one and hands it to you, then a fourth one. At this point, most of us would drop all four, and be pretty cross at this serial giver of bowling balls.

Something similar happened to me on a client call this week.

Someone handed me a bunch of bowling balls at the same time. The person in question runs a sustainably managed magazine. On our first meeting she told me these things (and I only managed to capture a few points here):

  1. She utilizes recycled paper for printing.
  2. Her company either recycles or composts extra or returned magazines.
  3. 10% of their revenues go to support local charities.
  4. She organizes green tree planting events.
  5. She employs women in need.

A bit much?

That’s what I thought.

I think it’s an amazing firm filled with genuine people who want to change the world for the better. Here’s a firm that does all the right things, then tells all of this to their users at the same time.

Each of those narratives are big and powerful by themselves, each a bowling ball. Ideally, you want to give your customers’ just one bowling ball. They’re more likely to take it home with them.

If your brand does luxury, tell your customers that. If you’re about planting trees through purchases, that’s what your customers want to hear. If you’re in 1% for the Planet, that’s a good story too. If you’re doing all of this, that’s great, but give your customers just one of those points to take home.

The choice of all of the above, when it comes to communicating your message to customers, is a great way to confuse them. A big, bold message (like a big bowling ball) is easy to hold on to.

So what’s your bowling ball?

*With due credit to Ian Yates for the bowling ball analogy. There are companies out there who successfully do two or three key messages, but I find that’s about the limit for a successful firm. Most of the great ones go with one key message that defines their brand.