Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Newsletter, August 2011

In This Issue…

Can You Help Me Out (and Get Paid?)

I find myself looking for a few different types of people to work as part-time independent contractors. You can pick up some income, working from the comfort of your own computer and telephone, while helping to spread the message that green and ethical behavior is not only the right thing morally, but also a great way to grow your business.

* Webmaster: Format and post content, administer newsletters, revise content as necessary, research and install/troubleshoot new tools and scripts. Note: most of our sites are now in WordPress, which makes changing appearance or content very easy. But some of our older sites-the ones with the most articles-are in old-fashioned HTML, so some basic familiarity is necessary. This will probably take about five hours a week. USD $10/hour.

* Speech Booker: Commissioned sales: 25% of the speaking fee (my standard rate is $5000 for a 60- to 90-minute speech, plus noncommissionable travel expenses).

* Other Commissioned Sales: Sell my monthly Green And Profitable and Green And Practical columns to corporate and media clients. Sell my membership program. Sell foreign rights for books and information products. Commissions vary depending on the product.

Contact me to learn more: shel at, or (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. US Eastern) 413-586-2388.

Not Just USP… ESP

If you’ve been in marketing any length of time, you’ve no doubt come across the concept of a USP: Unique Selling Proposition. A USP is the core reason why people would choose you rather than someone else; the classic example is Domino’s Pizza: fresh hot pizza, delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less. It’s not about the flavor or the quality, but about the speed and convenience.

Another well-known example, and I like this one because it’s not only a USP but also a memorable slogan, is FedEx’s 1978-83 slogan, “When it Absolutely, Positively has to be there overnight.” Its staying power is clear; I still remember it 28 years after the company stopped running those ads. Why did they abandon it, anyway?

In the green world, USPs might emphasize product attributes (e.g., organic and fair trade, biodegradable, recycled, low energy), longevity in the green market (such as Marcal’s “saving trees since 1950″), and/or manufacturing frameworks such as carbon-neutral, zero waste, etc. And in the green market, the more of these claims you can honestly make, the better your reception will be—but it has to be done in a way that’s not clunky or cumbersome. (If this is something you struggle with my book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green will help, and I’m also available for private consulting.)

However, we can go a lot deeper. Paul John Castle, a fellow member of the LinkedIn Green discussion group, introduced me to Grant Leboff’s concept of an Emotional Selling Point, which he describes in his book Sticky Marketing.

We already know that people buy based on emotions and justify with rational arguments. I think this ESP concept could have a lot of resonance. See, for example, this blogger writing about what a stuffed giraffe meant to his pregnant wife. Here’s an article by Paul Simister on ESPs, which gives a nice clear explanation and is a good place to begin your exploration.

Another Recommended Book

Another Recommended Book: Ethical Marketing and the New Consumer, by Chris Arnold (John Wiley and Sons UK, 2009)

From the perspective of an ad agency creative marketer who has worked with some very big brands, Chris Arnold reaches many of the same conclusions I do in Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (also published by Wiley, but in the US, and a year later): that ethical and green positioning is good for business, but that these businesses have to understand what they’re doing, what they’re saying, and to whom. AND that given products of comparable price and quality, customers will buy the one with social impact claims. In other words, when price and quality are equal, the ethical brands win.

Customers have zero tolerance for greenwashing these days–so making false claims, claims with a grain of truth but no substance, or claims that are at odds with other facets of your company’s operation–like the bank he criticizes for running ads for a “green” loan program featuring gas-guzzling SUVs–simply don’t make any marketing sense. He offers oodles of good examples.

Arnold’s book is partly organized by industry, so there are chapters for food packaging, food nutrition, clothing, cleaning products, and even insurance. Who knew there was such a thing as a green insurance agency? These chapters are scattered among other chapters devoted to marketing skills, trends and philosophies, and chapters focused on ethics ideas (ranging from fair trade to the influence of Quakers and Puritans on the corporate landscape). Some of the skills-oriented chapters have very good material, like his process for identifying a company’s strongest green and ethical talking points and building a campaign around them. And his advice to the UK fashion discounter Primark on how to build an ethical profile (p. 224) is worth getting the book just for that.

He is frank in discussing the need for green and ethical brands to perform as well or better than traditional brands. As someone who bought some early, primitive, and not-very functional biodegradable diapers when they first came out around 1989 or 1990, I can tell you from personal experience that customers demand quality: when we buy green, we DO want cleansers that clean, food that tastes great, clothes that look great and are comfortable to wear, and yes, diapers that can be relied on to hold in the mess. I did not go back for a second package of those diapers!

Fortunately, green products have come a long way since then–something that Arnold doesn’t always recognize. He sees many green products still under the stigma of poor quality. I personally think that food, in particular, usually looks, smells, and especially tastes better when it’s organic and local and fresh, that natural body care products feel better on the skin, and that green home products tend to increase comfort.

Arnold’s best strength is his creativity, boldness, and sense of play. He describes some absolutely wonderful campaigns, including a publicity stunt involving putting a 21-foot condom on a statue as part of a college safe-practices awareness campaign. Humor, he says, not only sells product, but also helps convey potentially depressing ideas very effectively. And that bridges to a long and useful discussion about using emotions and even NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) techniques to capture the prospect as not only a thinking, but also a feeling individual. He asks: are your ads good enough that people would pay to see them?

The best news in his book may be the sense of opportunity in the green market as it begins to go mainstream. He says half of all Americans would go greener if they knew how–so we, as green marketers, get to show them! How cool is that? He also posits that a bold campaign reaching a small group of influencers may be a better (and more affordable) strategy than a big but bland campaign aimed at the general public. He wants to show the public, through the people they want to emulate, that ethical buying and ethical product use are revolutionary steps in the best sense of the word, and that thrills me.

I do have to temper my endorsement, though. First, the book is very UK-centric and somewhat less accessible to readers elsewhere. Of the five companies mentioned most often (sometimes positively, sometimes negatively), four of them–Marks & Spencer (which he calls M&S), Sainsbury, Tesco, and Primark are largely unknown in the US. The fifth is McDonald’s, which comes under sharp examination around obesity and other issues. People in the green world know M&S’s Plan A sustainability drive, and maybe people in retail foods have heard of the supermarket giant Tesco–but probably not the others. In fact, the vast majority of his examples are UK-centric. His language, also, is a bit off-putting, full of British slang and lacking punctuation that those of us in the US feel increases readability. And second, even though it’s published by a major house, the book is sloppy. The writing is disorganized and repetitive, and the copy-editing was perfunctory, leaving glaring inconsistencies, misspellings, and an occasional obvious blooper (like 63 instead of 66 years between the 1903 Wright Brothers flight and the 1969 moon landing).

Despite those flaws, I strongly recommend the book.

Get your copy here: Ethical Marketing and The New Consumer

Hear & Meet Shel




Negotiating on several other speaking engagements. Remember-if you set me up an engagement, you could earn a generous commission.

Friends Who Want to Help

Watch this Space for Something Really Exciting

Not at liberty to give out the details, but as a subscriber, you’ll be getting an invitation to a very exciting JV (Joint Venture) that has the potential to bring messages of easy environmental sustainability to a whole lot of people that haven’t “gotten it” before. Several A-list celebrities have lent their names to the project, which will have a whole lot of media attention nationwide. And there could be some very nice commissions for you, as well.

Up close and personal with my celebrated co-author, Jay Conrad Levinson, Father of Guerrilla Marketing

Jay is having one of his famous intimate 21-hour intensives at his lovely Florida home, September 26-28. Only 10 people will be allowed in. . Jay describes it as “a three-day face-to-face training personally conducted by me in our home here on a lake just northeast of Orlando, Florida. It’s intense because it’s from noon till 7 pm three days in a row — 21 hours with lots of hands-on, devoted to making you a true guerrilla marketer.”

Want to create more business on LinkedIn?

This series of templates and guides will help you beef up your profile, have a more authoritative presence in discussion forums, and generally make it more likely to actually do business. In fact, while I was reviewing this material, I stopped what I was doing twice–once to change my profile headline, and once to make some changes in the way my Green And Ethical Business group is set up–and I’m not exactly a LinkedIn newbie (in fact, I was member #150225 out of more than 100,000,000).

Did You Know There Are 156 Ways to Wash The Dishes?

That’s right and, more importantly, there are just as many ways to use social media.   There is no “right” way to use social media, nor is there only one way to succeed at it.  That’s why my colleagues have put together “Social Media Connect,” a collection of ideas and strategies, gleaned from some of the top people in Internet marketing and social media, including yours truly.

This is one resource you won’t want to miss out on.  And, remember to grab your bonus copy of “Blogging 4 Cash” as their thank you for joining:

Some of these links are affiliate programs and earn me a commission. All of them are things I feel good about recommending.

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