When marketing trends start to go viral, it is tempting to jump in. It is natural to want your message to match the hot theme of the day. This is especially true when it looks like everyone is leaving you behind. But, if your presentation and actions aren’t in alignment with the message, you may do more harm than good.
Supporting the environment is a good thing. Adding a “green” tagline without reducing, recycling, or reusing isn’t. Marketing products to save the planet without participating in the green movement is offensive.
Which is worse – multiple paper cups or a plastic cup?
I’m not a diehard environmentalist, but I incorporate the three R’s in my daily activities when possible. Recently I visited a coffeehouse (yes, THAT one). When I walked into the store, there was a display featuring reusable plastic cups. The sign promoted buying one to help save the environment. I wondered aloud which had the worse affect – multiple paper cups or a plastic one. (Sidebar: if anyone knows, I’m still wondering. Please share.)
As the line progressed, I heard the clerks trying to upsell the cup “to reduce environmental waste.” Since I’m not a fan of their brew, I bought water in a glass bottle. When my companions and I were ready to leave, I looked for the recycling bin for my bottle. I couldn’t find one, so I asked a clerk. She responded, “Oh, we don’t do that!”
My takeaway (along with everyone else in earshot) was that they were committed to using the environmental message to sell products but weren’t interested in the cause. It is a dangerous position to play. At best, you sell a few $10 coffee cups. At worst, you alienate your customer base.
Think carefully before you join a hot marketing trend. Make sure that everything you and your people say and do is consistent with the message. If you don’t, it’s a no-win game. You aren’t participating in the trend, you’re trying to feed off of it. There’s a big difference and your customers are the first to know.
What marketing faux pas’ have you seen lately?