Your client has asked you for eco-friendly promotional product ideas. Where do you start?
Let’s say you’ve been asked to come up with some ideas for a promotional product for a school. They want to have something to give out at their new student open house, an important recruitment event for the school.
In past years, the school has given away an array of promotional products - pens, sticky notes, a small journal, plastic bracelets. But lately, there has been a growing conversation about reducing waste, caring for the planet and being responsible citizens. And now you’ve been asked to come up with some promotional products including “something eco-friendly”.
Step 1) Outline your project goals
A great first step with any promotional product project is to ask “what are your goals?” All of us who work with clients know that we need to ask this important question before jumping into product sourcing. Why is the buyer is looking for a promotional product? It could be anything from wanting to impart recruiting information to the parents, inspire the kids, demonstrate the school's values and culture, and much more. Engage in a conversation about the purpose of the promotional product and also how it fits into their overall sustainability goals.
Step 2) Understand what your client means by "eco-friendly"
It may seem obvious about what an eco-friendly product is, but there are actually many factors that can contribute to making products eco-friendly. It's important to have a conversation about the specifics so that you're on the same page.
- Do they want the promotional product to have a beneficial effect like establish threatened native plant species or help the bees?
- Do they want to create zero waste?
- Are they looking for fair trade, domestically-made or carbon-neutral products?
Step 3) Source & Present
Once you have the information above, source the products from eco-friendly promotional product suppliers and decide how to present your ideas. You can look for products that fall into one of two streams and then present them based on what impact they have. Your client may or may not have a preference depending on their goals.
Products that focus on environmental benefits: These products will focus on the positive by doing something good for the environment and even off-set negative actions. For example, Botanical PaperWorks seed paper promotional products can be planted and to grow native plant species that will create habitats for endangered pollinators
Products that focus on avoiding harm: These products will help to reduce waste and pollution by either being reusable or by being made with recycled material. For example, reusable water bottles or tote bags that will help to prevent putting more plastic into the environment.
What if your client didn't ask you for something eco-friendly, but it's important to your business?
Even though environmentally conscious products are growing in popularity, not every client is ready or willing to make the switch. That's when your business can make a difference by informing them of the many benefits of using eco-friendly promotional products.
To do that, focus on the positive PR and brand image that they’ll get by positioning their school as a school that cares about the environment. Clearly show how it demonstrates that this school takes social responsibility seriously. Alternatively, you can focus on preventing something such as the negative PR that could come from giving away something perceived as bad for the environment.
All of us in the promotional product industry has the ability and responsibility to bring about change for the planet. As we wrote in a previous article, The Environmental Impact Of The Promo Industry:
"it’s more important than ever for industry professionals to explore and promote unique, meaningful, quality products that aren’t harmful to the planet. And what is perhaps even more critical, is for businesses purchasing promotional products to demand them”.