8 Green Marketing Tips for Event Planners

December 1, 2012

Dana Norris

Dana has worked for Experient Marketing Services since 2001 providing full-service event marketing, advertising and promotional programs for association, corporate, and government event. 

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the importance of sustainability in event planning and marketing. With a little determination and effort, it’s easy to make the promotion of your event more eco-friendly.

So, how exactly do you go green with your marketing? Start out by doing your homework. There are multiple resources available to help you, including the Green Meetings Industry Council, the Convention Industry Council’s Green Meetings Report, and the EPA’s Green Meetings and Events Guide.

Analyze your event, consider your strengths and weaknesses and determine what resources are available within your organization, the meeting venue’s management team and your own event team. Identify who already has the capacity for executing green strategies and engage them in implementing, monitoring and tracking the performance of your sustainability action plans.

When establishing your goals, it’s important to set achievable objectives. Prioritize your efforts so that you put the most energy into green practices that are the least disruptive, least controversial and which yield the greatest return on investment. Here are some ideas that I’ve used with my clients to help them go green in their event marketing:

• Design your materials to reduce their environmental impact. At the design stage, you can reduce paper weight, size and mailing format. You can even choose fonts that reduce the amount of ink used in printing brochures and flyers. Select graphic designs that use less ink and use white space in place of swaths of color where possible.

• Print graphics, flyers, handouts and banners on recycled materials. More and more, recycled paper, fiberboard, cardstock and fabrics are being offered by printers in place of those made with virgin materials, and recycled materials often cost less these days. When using recycled papers, look for brands that list a minimum of 30% post-consumer content that is processed chlorine free. Most legitimately recycled papers and papers that use sustainable fibers are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Reducing the size and weight of your mailings can save you money and help your green marketing efforts in several different ways.

• Reduce the total weight of your mass mailings and marketing materials. Self-mailers eliminate extra envelopes. Double-sided printing cuts paper costs in half. Additionally, this reduced weight can also generate secondary benefits like reducing emissions of the trucks delivering your materials. Check out the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) website for more tips.

• Choose Energy Star printers, copiers and other equipment for use by your team. Look for eco-friendly inks and other solvents when you buy supplies. The Forest Stewardship Council provides a chain-of-custody certification for printers that meet their environmental standards.

• Clean up your mailing lists. Millions of advertisements and direct mailings go out to bad addresses each year. Use available tools provided by software and mailing services to clean up bad addresses, missing fields, incorrect zip codes, retired attendees and those who have moved or switched positions without leaving a forwarding address. Make it as easy as possible for your attendees to opt out of your traditional mailing list in favor of receiving notices by email. Email is far cheaper and impacts the environment less than traditional letters.

• Go with LED lighting for advertising displays, banners and billboards. LED lights deliver all the lumens you’ll need at a fraction of the power consumption of tungsten or halogen lights. Bonus tip: Be sure to point out the power savings you achieve in your marketing materials for the event.

• Add a substantial electronic media strategy to your overall marketing efforts. The Internet’s capacity to micro-target customers through websites, mobile apps, email, traditional outbound and inbound online advertising, blogs, social media, and newsletters dramatically reduces the environmental impact of your marketing campaign and at a fraction of the cost.

• Use Online PR distribution resources like PR Web and PR Newswire to get your message directly to attendees. Electronic press releases can include a direct call to action that most print news media won’t tolerate. By optimizing your release for search engines with keyword-rich copy, you can move your news to the top of the electronic heap, again taking advantage of the Internet’s cost savings and energy efficiency.

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Partner Voices

Until recently, the opportunity to have a celebrity attend an event, attach themselves to a name-brand or endorse a certain product or idea was untouchable. The thought of paying a person to promote a product was seen as something only Fortune 500 companies could afford. Social media has changed all that with brands and businesses utilizing celebrity influencers to connect directly with their demographics and increase sales and profits.