Greening Up Your Marketing Events
Even though digital age channels like social media, webinar, and vid-cast are on the rise, a physical event like a trade show is hard to beat when it comes to face to face interaction with prospects, customers and industry thought leaders. Unfortunately, these events also have a large environmental footprint. All that lighting, display blitz, air conditioning, food and paper waste, transport, etc. add to a considerable toll on the environment. In fact, in terms of industry size, the convention and trade show industry is among the largest producers of waste, second only to the construction industry, according to Triple Pundit.
To counter the effect, trade show and conference organizers have started implementing several measures including:
- Energy efficient lighting, ventilation and air conditioning.
- Arranging for renewable energy and local power generation at the venue.
- Using energy efficiency certified (i.e. LEED) building as the host venue.
- Water restoration (to critically dewatered sources).
- Zero waste recycling and composting management.
- Local/organic sourcing of foods and beverages.
- Allowing proximity to a central hub, public transportation.
- Online event planning and management etc.
But let’s talk about what we, as the participating vendors and attendees can do to help. There are several quick and easy ways to do it. All it requires is some attention and planning.
According to Wikipedia, “Carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere.” There are many organizations that work to offset the carbon emission by taking up environmental projects like forestation using the fund donated by the businesses and individuals. Zerofootprint, for example, is a carbon offset fund, an end-to-end carbon mitigation organization which distributes the contribution among several environmental projects like forest restoration, landfill gas recovery and municipal organic waste. Zerofootprint secures carbon credits from a number of different sources that demonstrate effective and responsible means of reducing the CO2 emissions that lead to climate change.
Here is how it works:
- Provide some basic information about your travel to the venue; i.e., originating destination and mode of transport to better quantify your carbon footprint. If you do not want to disclose your travel details, Zerofootprint will offset a certain amount for you (for example 1 ton of CO2 equivalent).
- Let Zerofootprint know if you would like to contribute to specific projects or the entire portfolio.
- Buy the credit from Zerofootprint and send the certificate to the participants if requested.
Offering Carbon offset is a simple and easy way a company can show its commitment to its environmental and social responsibility mandate. Especially, if you are tight on budget and can’t afford to initiate your own environmental projects, engaging with such a partner is a good alternative.
Check out the Carbon Fund For more ideas.
Marketing collateral including your business cards, brochures and data sheets communicate your messaging and help spread it post-show. So why not make these items more meaningful by showing your support for eco-friendliness? Things you can do are:
Minimize Paper Use
Cut it completely if possible. You can use digital versions of your collateral and load them up on USB/pen drives. They are becoming very cheap these days. This has several other benefits too. You can store a lot of contents in such a device including video and demo. Your customer can reuse them, increasing your brand latency. They are lightweight so the visitors don’t have to lug around a heavy load of papers and folders.
If you have to use hard copies, try using recycled papers. Also when printing, use non-toxic/solid ink where possible. Companies like Xerox have solid ink printers that use 90 percent less waste than a comparable laser printer.
Depending on your budget and intent you can consider things like:
- Ceramic, reusable tumbler.
- Natural fiber bag.
- Gifts made of biodegradable plastic.
- Solar charger.
- Item made with Bamboo instead of traditional lumber (Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth).
You can also consider gifts that would encourage sustainability and wellness like this Solar-Powered Pedometer, Environmental themed graphic t-shirt etc. Or get an offer from one of the organizations working toward global issues. I particularly like the $55 Species Adoptions Kit from World Wildlife Fund (WWF). With this gift your visitor can join the global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats. The kit comes with a plush, an adoption certificate, a photo and a gift bag.
Booth and Displays
Design your booth so that you can reuse it. Pop-up booths are are easy to setup, transport and reusable.
For banners, try using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper or recycled textiles. Look for banners made of 50 percent or more recycled fabric. Also check to see if the print shop uses non-solvent or eco-solvent inks. For structures and frames, see if you can find the Glacier Aluminum Extrusion, which is made from recycled material like PET plastics, aluminum frames and yarn.
Finally, when your booth needs replacement, consider recycling it. Some suppliers give discount when you recycle your previous booth or donate it to charity. Some companies like MOD Displays will even recycle the display for you, as well as pay for shipping to their location.
Few other tips to help you green your event:
- Consider using a lead scanner or an app like Share Contact by Team2E or vCards instead of printing a bunch of business cards.
- Try sourcing your materials locally and if possible from charity organizations. They may not be directly related to environmental sustainability. However, they help the society in other ways. In our case, we buy from Key Industries when possible. They empower persons with disabilities by training them and finding job placements. This way we all win.
- My last tip might sound a bit counterintuitive to my article’s title. But if possible, try not to go to an event or host one at all. If you can achieve your goal in other ways like a conference call, webinar etc., then do that instead.
Greening your marketing events is one of the many small ways we can contribute to a bigger cause — reducing stress on our planet. As a ”marketing” return, exercises like this will increase the value of your brand to your customers and stakeholders who are increasingly becoming aware of the need for environmental conservation and sustainability.
Arick Disilva is the director of marketing at SHIFT Energy. He has been involved with the ICT industry for over fifteen years. He has international experience with start-ups, SMEs and global corporations. He has a BBA in marketing and IT and an MBA in innovation and technology management.
All content provided on this article is for informational purposes only. The author of this column makes no representations as to any company mentioned on the article, the accuracy or completeness of any information on this article or found by following any link on the article.
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