Green marketing: What not to do

Holly Hagerman is a brand alchemist with Green Rising Marketing.

Holly Hagerman is a brand alchemist with Green Rising Marketing.

We spend a lot of time touting good ideas. And while I believe in positivity, there's also value in looking at occasional “how-not-to-do-it” examples.

Enter the Marketing Misstep. Consider this like a history lesson: learn from others, so you don’t make the same mistake. Enjoy, and feel free to laugh... I did.

Recently, a colleague stayed at a Hampton Inn. Plastered in the elevator were graphics boasting that duvet covers and sheets are washed fresh for every guest.

There are two reactions to expect:

1. Ewww!

2. Oh. Finally, I can sit on my bed naked without worry.

Of those I polled, No. 1 was the most common response. What does that say about their campaign?

In the hotel industry, cleanliness is a table stake — the bare minimum you must meet to compete. Look at airlines: Southwest doesn't boast safety, that's a given. They go beyond that, promising low fares and high spirit.

By choosing to highlight fresh sheets — something people already expect — Hampton Inn loses an opportunity to stand out in asea of hotel chains.

On top of that, they deeply misunderstand their audience. One of their graphics shows a teen texting in bed: “OMG, TBISC. Oh my gosh, this bed is so clean.”

Have you ever met a teen concerned with a clean hotel bedspread? Didn't think so.

The moral of the story is that it's not enough to brag about the basics. Your brand lives in Every. Single. Detail. So identify your table stakes and then push past them.

As 2013 approaches, pinpoint areas to focus your energy. Making a plan now will be worth it.

Check out Holly Hagerman's previous green marketing posts on showing over telling, knowing your customer and finding your company's purpose.

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