How to really not ‘get’ green business

Published: 5th Aug 2009 in Ethical Business

This week we received an e-mail which was such a perfect example of how not to ‘get’ green business I had to share it. The e-mail was from a salesperson who suggested we would be interested in buying his products because we are a company who sells “solar promotional products”. We don’t, and never have, sold solar goods.

His amazing products are novelty desktop wind turbines, made from either plastic or metal. They are fitted with a little solar panel or USB ports to plug into your computer and power the rotating blades.

Apparently these merchandise would make great gifts to our clients, they could even be personalised with ours or our clients’ logo.

After we stopped laughing at the sheer preposterousness of this I felt quite irritated. They had got it wrong on so many levels:

1. It’s Still Spam
Just because you perceive your business and our business to have a common green focus doesn’t mean we want to hear from you or buy your product. We get unsolicited e-mails from companies selling ‘green’ or ‘ethical’ products on a regular basis, it’s still spam nonetheless.

2. Show Me Something Relevant
Ok, so you’re green and we’re green but is your product even relevant to us? If you insist on sending us spam, at least take the time to understand our business. This is just good marketing sense at the very least. We don’t sell solar products and putting that in the first line of your e-mail turned us off immediately.

3. You Just Don’t Get It
Why do you think we built our business on values of working efficiently, sustainably and putting careful thought into the things we buy? Why do you think we’ve taken lots of care to implement ethical and environmental policies and seek new ways to become even more efficient, less wasteful and more conscious of our impact on the environment? Do you think we’ve done these things to spend our hard earned cash on novelty plastic wind turbines from the other side of the world? Were you thinking at all????

4. Green by Name doesn’t always mean Green by Nature
Making something look green or sound green doesn’t mean it is green. In this case the product almost certainly isn’t but I wouldn’t know because you haven’t told me about its source or manufacture. We feel that transparency is so important so that customers can make informed choices. Without transparency consumers become justifiably suspicious. What happens then is that suspicion and mistrust spreads to all businesses which call themselves green. It basically gives all green business a ‘bad name’.

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