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3 Tips for Successful Green Marketing If you're jumping on the green bandwagon, do it practically.

By Kim T. Gordon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Consumers want to do the right thing when it comes to protecting the environment and their health. Even in this economic climate, the green movement is gathering momentum, and it's hard to miss the deluge of ads introducing new green products from well-known national brands. These manufacturers are leading the way; studies such as the newly released BBMG Conscious Consumer Report now show that nearly 80 percent of Americans agree they can make a positive difference by purchasing products from socially or environmentally responsible companies.

Are you planning to introduce a new green product or service to your target audience? Before you jump on the green bandwagon, make sure you take these three essential steps:

Prove Your Claims
Americans want proof that products and services touted as green will live up to their promise. The BBMG report is among the latest to show that many consumers remain skeptical and feel they have no way of knowing if a product is green or actually does what the advertiser claims. Today's shoppers are willing to dig deeper to get the real facts by examining consumer reports, reviews, testimonials and recommendations, as well as certification seals, labels and ingredient lists.

All your marketing efforts, from your website to sales tools, public relations placements and even social networking, must go the extra mile to provide verification of your green claims. How well you tell your green story can make or break a shopper's decision, and more than 70 percent told BBMG they avoid purchasing from companies whose practices they disagree with. In addition, more than half say they share their opinions with others. So providing proof of your green status to a single individual affects what she tells her family, friends and associates about you.

Get Your Pricing Right
While many green shoppers are willing to pay extra to do the right thing, the majority say price is very important in their purchase decisions. Consumers want quality products that are good for them and for the environment at a price they can afford. Teens ages 13 to 17 are the most price-conscious green shoppers, according to a survey from Generate Insight, an entertainment branding company. According to the survey, about seven in 10 teens would choose a less expensive product over one that "gave back" to the environment.

When rock bottom pricing is unachievable, great value can still add up to sales. For example, energy efficiency is gaining in importance among many consumers, and some are willing to pay an additional cost upfront to experience longer-term savings and benefit the planet.

Take a fresh look at your competitors and structure the pricing on your new green products and services to challenge them. Now's the time to come out strongly against your non-green competitors. That will give consumers who want to go green but have been held back by pricing an incentive to buy from you.

Offer Personal Benefits
Saving the planet is a big promise and a meaningful one to many consumers. But it will have more teeth if you relate that claim to a personal benefit, such as improving one's health or saving money. For example, food that's organically grown means that fewer pesticides and herbicides that will damage the environment are used--an invaluable benefit. Yet the essential bottom line for many organic food shoppers is the assurance that fewer harmful chemicals will find their way into the bodies of their children and families.

Just look at the way low-VOC and now VOC-free paint is being marketed. Yes, it helps to reduce pollutants in indoor and outdoor air, but the additional personal benefit that motivates consumers to take action on these new product lines is that they may be healthier and safer to use. What direct benefits will your green products and services offer customers? When you deliver on a promise to benefit the planet and the people who buy from you, you'll have a winning sales combination.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.

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