How can I make my marketing more sustainable?

There is no question that digital direct mail marketing is usually more environmentally friendly than offline. According to Esendex a 10-gram letter made from recycled paper that will be recycled when received, has an estimated carbon footprint of 140 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). In addition to email marketing, search ads, online content and social media posts are both effective and inexpensive online marketing tactics. This has led a lot of people to wonder if there is still a place for offline marketing and what can be done to make offline marketing more sustainable.

Traditional offline marketing involves more than just direct mail it involves all promotional or advertising through media such as television, radio, newspapers, billboards, in-person events, posters, fliers, business cards and PR in paper based publications and packaging of goods. These can all complement and enhance digital marketing campaigns and in some case may be difficult to avoid.

However, there are still some cases where offline is very relevant. Marketing needs to be inclusive and audiences such as the older generation for example may not use digital channels and so cannot not be reached easily with purely online tactics.

It is important to consider the impact of using paper with offline marketing. The world consumes around 400 million tons of paper each year, accounting for 70% of global warming, and the demand is only increasing. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper is thought to be a good option but even certified forestry supply chains are not perfect or far-reaching enough for proper forest biodiversity conservation.

Here are just a few paper alternatives that are more environmentally friendly;

Hemp based paper which requires less chemicals, water and energy to turn into pulp and is extremely sturdy as a fibre. This means it is less harmful to the environment to produce and can be grown more sustainably than wood.

Recycled cotton paper can look great when used for business cards or in packaging as a more environmentally friendly alternative to paper. It has a soft tactile texture. Colours printed on cotton paper have a rich, crisp quality. I particularly like the cotton business cards made by moo.com

Straw-based paper has a warm yellow tone and is made by reclaiming this scrapped straw and wheat which eliminates the need for burning crops to prepare the field for the next cycle, reducing CO2 emissions. The production of straw paper requires 25% less water and 70% less energy than traditional paper so again a good alternative.

Bamboo paper is extremely fast growing grass, and grows almost anywhere (unlike trees) but the process of turning bamboo into paper is similar to paper.

Seed paper is made from post-consumer materials and looks lovely because you can see and feel the seeds that are embedded into the paper. However depending on the type of printing method used, the seeds may not grow that well, because the high temperatures can possibly damage the seeds and affecting their ability to grow – so digital printing is recommended. I love the texture and unusual leaf shape on these ‘plantable’ business cards

In addition direct mail could be more environmentally friendly if it ‘piggy backs’ to reduce the carbon footprint of its delivery. For example a newsletter delivered with a vegetable boxes or a little note or flier added to a postal order.

Offline marketing still does have a place but we need to find a more ‘planet friendly’ approach. More environmentally alternatives are becoming available such as these pvc free pull up banners. It is now possible to get a QR business cards app on your phone which can be saved as a screensaver so as well as being better for planet you are never caught out without a business card. In addition they are no touch which means they are so much more hygienic for our post pandemic world.

Offline channels may allow you to make your marketing more inclusive. It can provide a different customer experience. It is more tangible and tactile and, in a world, where so much is digital it can really stand out and cut through the noise found online.

At Little Green Marketing Company we want to put people and planet above profit. Why not give Rebecca a call to see how we can help you make market your business in a more ethical and sustainable way on 07795 567 531 or email rebecca@littlegreenmarketing.co.uk

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