Sunday, July 19, 2009

What would you do?

In my reading and research on being a more responsible promotional marketing consultant, I came across this analogy. The writer was likening the way we buy promotional products to the morning ritual of getting our caffeine fix.

Each morning on your way to work you stop by the same quick-stop joint to get your cup of joe. It's something you've done for years. It's convenient, it's always just right, the way you like it. But what if you found out that somewhere between the fields of coffee beans and that first steaming sip that touches your lips in the morning, people were suffering and, even worse, dying - Would that be enough to make you switch coffee shops? Would you be willing to pay a bit more? Would it be enough for you to take a left at the corner instead of a right and change your ways?

As salespeople and business owners, there are bottom line choices that have to be made in order to keep the profit and loss in check. But in today's world, there are new options available. And today, that cup of coffee you were looking for doesn't have to hurt anyone in order to provide us all our creature comforts. Now, there is a shop just another mile down the road that offers Fair Trade coffee, which ensures fair wages and a safe work environment for all involved in the supply chain. As for that fashion-forward tee you are looking for, or the hard goods you need in a hurry, there are ethically conscious companies out there with great products - so no more excuses. Just let your promotional marketing consultant know that these things are important to you.

Is that really your Excuse?

Top five worst excuses not to Go Green, Go Safe, and Go Responsible:
  1. It's too expensive.
  2. One person can't make a difference.
  3. It doesn't fit my lifestyle.
  4. The quality of the products just isn't as high.
  5. I don't know where or how to begin.

Being a Responsible Consultant

I have spent the last few hours reading an industry magazine supplement on responsibility. Subtitled "The Comprehensive Guide to Maintaining the Highest Safety, Environmental & Social Standards for the Promotional Products Industry". Believe me, it's given me a lot to think about.

When I started working in this industry, I was a bit ahead of the curve. I have always be "Eco Conscious". So when their was a big push about 3 or 4 years ago to start making the industry a bit more "Green", I was already well on that path. In fact, since my very first consultation, I have been trying to make my clients more aware of their choices and how it would impact the environment in relation to their marketing goals.

Some of the things I would have them consider when ordering an item were; What was it made of? How long would it stay in use? Was it recyclable? Was it biodegradable?, etc.

That in itself was a lot to think about. But now, there are so many other areas to be aware of. Certainly, as of late, whether a product is made in the USA or not has been more of a concern. Naturally promoting your own company with USA made goods in better for the overall economy. However there are other reasons to consider where something is made. Product safety concerns is a big reason. Fair wage and working conditions. Lot-to-lot quality is something that recently was brought to my attention. Did you know that some suppliers will pay extra to make sure that there is consistency in the quality of material used in the manufacturing of their goods? I didn't until a couple of weeks ago.

Besides the actually manufacturing of a product, it's important to look at the printing, packaging and shipping methods used. What kind of inks are being used? How does the supplier handle waste issues? Does the supplier use recycled packaging? Where is the supplier located in relation to where the product is being shipped?

Lastly, what does the supplier do to "give back"? Some suppliers give a percent of sales of pink products to breast cancer foundations. Others have organized community outreach events. And some will donate products to charity events and fundraisers.

Does your promotional products consultant council you in these areas? Maybe until the industry as a whole comes around, some of the responsibility should be on the client. So next time you place an order for water bottles or t-shirts you ask your consultant a couple of questions other than, "How much will this cost?"