There's a common misperception among small business owners that going green will cost the business a lot of green.
While it's true that some environmentally-friendly approaches to business may require a significant investment, there are many others that cost little, can actually help you save money, and allow you to save the planet in the process.
Transitioning away from dependence on small business activities that needlessly consume paper is a simple way to go green.
In this article, we discuss why reaching out to your constituencies via email, rather than using direct mail, makes sense.
Making the Move From Direct Mail to Email
Keeping in touch with customers and contacts is vital to the success of a business under any circumstances. But when there are fewer customers and prospects out there, it's critical.
It's obvious that you can reduce paper waste (and save money) by using email instead of direct mail. The trouble has always been how to manage an email campaign effectively.
After all, you don't want to become known as a spammer -- you want your emails to be opened and read. In addition, prospects and customers seem to be a lot more forgiving of junk mail they receive in their mailboxes than unwanted emails that appear in their in-boxes.
The barrier to entry for a lot of small businesses has been the campaign management technology.
A sophisticated CRM system is great for major retailers or large multi-nationals with thousands or millions of names on their customer/prospect list. They have the professional staff, not to mention the network bandwidth, to cost-effectively develop attractive promotional pieces, create and update lists, track campaign success, and run reports that help them refine the entire process.
But what about the five-person real estate office, or the local specialty retailer with an owner and a few part-time employees, or the charmingly rustic, family-run bed and breakfast on the coast of Maine?
How do you create not just a random email message here or there, but a powerful, cohesive campaign that helps drive business?
The answer lies in new Web-based applications designed specifically for the needs of small businesses. These tools help non-experts build and manage professional-looking email campaigns, and even run a variety of reports that show the ROI on each. Most services allow you to send an unlimited number of emails for a single monthly fee.
One of the most important benefits of these applications is they make it easy to build and update opt-in email mailing lists, assuring you are only sending information to people who want it, and that you're complying with current CAN-SPAM laws.
They also make it easy to segment and build multiple lists to be sure the right people are receiving the right type of information.
Their tools let you continuously refine your lists, helping you target more of the right people. And any recipients who aren't interested in this particular offer (but want to remain on the list) can just hit the "delete" key without adding to the waste stream.
It's the ideal solution for small businesses that want to market greener -- and more effectively -- while keeping their budgets under control.