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01.11.2011 - 05:27PM

Category: Sustainability

CSRwire Book Review: Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green


By CSRwire Contributing Writer Francesca Rheannon

Shel Horowitz is a man of eclectic interests all tied together by a common thread: a passion for ethics. He's the creator of an international campaign to promote a Business Ethics Pledge based on "honesty, integrity and quality." Ethics is what underpins his environmental advocacy and his "frugalism" - he runs websites Frugal Fun and Frugal Marketing.

Horowitz is owner of the marketing firm, Principled Profit. He authored a book of that title, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First. It's now been re-issued and updated, with high-profile co-author Jay Conrad Levinson and a foreword by Stephen M.R. Covey, as Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet.

Levinson is the coiner of the term "guerrilla marketing;" his popular 1984 book Guerrilla Marketing showed how business people with limited resources could use unconventional marketing tools to advertise their wares and services.

Marrying "guerrilla" to "green" marketing, Horowitz and Levinson have written a guide for businesses that want to save money and the environment - and they say it's a winning business model.

"The more you ground yourself in ethical and green principles in business, the better chance you have of succeeding," Horowitz told CSRwire. "Doors open to you that would not be open to a cold-hearted, bottom-line-only kind of marketer; opportunities to make partnerships open up; and, of course, the opportunity to build a much more loyal customer base, and actually turn customers into fans and evangelists that go out and almost sell for you, because you're the kind of company that inspires that kind of loyalty."

The book has numerous real-world examples of its approach, including Hewlett Packard, Stop and Shop and Costco, as well as a wealth of down-to-earth tips on how to do green marketing on a budget.

It also explores some areas of controversy: for example, while supporting localism is central to green ethics, there are industries and products where that's not possible. If your business markets globally, you can counter the higher carbon miles by conforming to higher international standards; i.e., in the cosmetics or toy industry. Or, you can support grassroots local development in communities in your supply chain. One great example of this latter approach is fair trade organic coffee and cocoa seller Deans Beans, which takes its profits and reinvests them in coffee-growing communities with local governance and guidance.

Horowitz is definitely not a believer in a zero-sum world, where your gain means my loss and vice versa. Instead he espouses an "abundance paradigm" that eliminates the need to dominate by focusing on building quality relationships with other businesses and customers. "The idea of market share is no longer relevant," Horowitz says. "What does it matter to me if you're at capacity, if I am, too? I just need enough work to keep me busy."

Green marketing is becoming mainstream; Horowitz cites studies showing that 76% of consumers would switch to green goods, if they had parity of price and quality. But plenty are switching even with the premium many green products command. That's one of the reasons companies can stay profitable even when the costs of ethical and green production might be higher.

But many companies fail to take advantage of consumer interest in buying green, even when they are using green practices. Horowitz told CSRwire that Marcal Paper was using recycled paper in its products for almost 60 years before they started to tell consumers about it with their "paper from paper, not from trees" ad campaign. "And then they went from bankruptcy to category leader," Horowitz said.

The book also includes cautionary tales on how not to do green marketing, such as Nestle. The company was hauled into Canadian court because of hyped-up claims, like "bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world" - a classic and transparent case of greenwashing. "They could have avoided complaints by stating that some bottle content was recycled, instead of making sweeping claims that weren't backed up," Horowitz said.

But Horowitz would like companies to go farther than merely being honest. "Green is a continuum," he told CSRwire. "Taking sustainability initiatives to their logical conclusion, we are looking to create a world in which there's no need to go to war over oil, hunger becomes less of an issue because food can be redistributed better and grown locally at the source, and every little facet of life - transportation, agriculture, housing - all add up in gradual increments to a very different kind of society. I'm very excited about that possibility. We've come far in the last 40 - 50 years.”

You can find out more about the book, including a table of contents, excerpts and free tools for guerrilla marketing on the Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green website, www.guerrillamarketinggoesgreen.com.

Listen to Francesca Rheannon's interview with Shel Horowitz about Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green here.

About Francesca Rheannon

CSRwire Talkback's Managing Editor is Francesca Rheannon. An award-winning journalist, Francesca is co-founder of Sea Change Media. She produces the Sea Change Radio's series, Back to The Future, and co-produces the Interfaith Center of Corporate Responsibility's podcast, The Arc of Change. Francesca's work has appeared at SocialFunds.com, The CRO and E Magazine, and she is a contributing writer for CSRwire. Francesca hosts the nationally syndicated radio show, Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon.

This commentary is written by a valued member of the CSRwire contributing writers' community and expresses this author's views alone.



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