Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green

Full Q&A

1. You describe yourself as an ethical/green marketing expert. How does ethical/green marketing differ from ordinary marketing?

You come at marketing from an attitude of service, of helping others. And of course you DONT cheat or mislead or overhype or (fill in your own pet peeve).

2. Your eighth book is Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, with a co-author whos done more than 60 books. You have a foreword by Stephen M.R. Covey and more than 50 endorsements. Whats guerrilla marketing, and whats Green guerrilla marketing?

Guerrilla marketing is a term coined by my co-author, Jay Conrad Levinson, back in 1984, when he published the first Guerrilla Marketing book. Its the idea that you can be nimble and quick, just like a military guerrillasometimes that means youre in and out quickly before your big, slow, lumbering competition has a chance to react.

Green guerrilla marketing sharpens the focus to look at the impact of a business on our environment, to shape that impact so its positive, and to tell your Green story so effectively that the world begins to seek you out.

Incidentally, when you think this way, all sorts of impossible things become possibleand wonderful. As an example, I not only agented this book myself to a major NYC-area publisher, I brought in Jay and his famous brand, I brought in Stephen M.R. Covey for the foreword, and even wrote my own back cover (something most authors never get to do when working with a major publisher).

3. People tend to think of Green anything as expensive and complicated. Is that true for Green marketing?

While it sometimes happens that way, it certainly doesnt have to be! In fact, the Green ways are often cheaper and simpleron both the marketing and operations sides. Its a wonderful situation because if you understand this, doing the right thing becomes a no-brainer.

In the book, I highlight the remarkable work of Amory Lovins, who shows over and over again how the same amount of money and energy and time can be used to achieve, say, a 60 or 80 percent energy saving as a 10 percent reduction. So why not do the big, bold move and channel that expenditure toward the much more dramatic savings, by thinking holistically. For instance, he was hired to lower the energy cost of an industrial facility. He yanked out the narrow, twisting pipes and replaced them with wide, straight ones. The reduced friction led to an astounding 92 percent reduction in energy consumption (and thus, carbon footprint was reduced as well). Lovins think tank, Rocky Mountain Institute, was recently hired to do a deep energy retrofit on the Empire State Building of all things, and Im sure that will not only pay for itself in dramatic savings but become a model for how to Green an old and very inefficient building that happens to be a national icon.

In my own, much smaller, business, I needed a new printer and I got one that prints on both sides of the page. My paper consumption went down 40 percent, and since I pay $45 or $50 for a case of recycled copy paper, that printer paid for itself out of paper savings in well under a year.

4. How and why should businesses seek alliances with their competitors?

To create partnerships where both of you come out ahead of where youd be without each otherjust as IBM and Apple teamed with Motorola to create the PowerPC chip in the 1990s, and FedExs partnership with the USPS allows the Postal Service to do Express Mail. Co-operative marketing allows everyone to reach a wider audiencetheres a great example on page 67, where 11 local florists banded together to do a killer display ad none of them could have done on their own.

For the launch of Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, I estimate that I reached at least five million people (based on exact-match Google searches for the title that brought back over a million hits)but my own lists only total 10,000. Partnerships made all the difference. Those same partnerships also allowed me to include over $2600 in extra bonuses for anyone who registers their purchase of the book; the partners benefit with zero-cost marketing, and I reach more people with a more attractive offer. Everybody wins.

5. But what if my competitors dont act that way? Theyll try to take advantage!

Its simple: dont partner with jerks! If someone doesnt have a win-win attitude, partner with someone else instead. Let the cutthroats cut their own throats by not participating.

6. One of your boldest arguments is that companies shouldnt worry about market share because market share doesnt matter. How can you say this? Why shouldnt businesses be focused on becoming major players in their market?

For a service business, market share is completely irrelevant. If I were to handle even 0.0001 percent of the market for marketing consulting and book shepherding (my two primary categories), Id never get any sleep, would have no free time, and would have to be managing a large staff. And because I have some very headstrong and unique ideas about the marketing process, Id have a very difficult time finding people I could trust to do the work the way Id want it done. While the situation is a bit different for a product business (revolving around issues like economies of scale), again, the key question is not what is my share of the market, but do I have enough sales to create a profitable business?

Interestingly, when companies worry less about market share and more about how to make the maximum positive impact on the world, market share tends to increase.

7. Can you give examples of well-known companies that thrive by being Green?

Socially conscious upstarts like Ben & Jerrys and The Body Shop became so important in their categories, I believe, precisely because of their social and environmental commitment. Marcal, makers of toilet paper and similar products, went recycled in 1950 but didnt tell anyone. When the company started really focusing its packaging on telling the Green story, it became the category leader.

8. Its easy to be Green and honest in good times. What about in a crisis or a recession?

Look for ways to be Green that cost little or nothing to implement, and make sure you share your Green commitment appropriately. Being Green and basing your business in strong ethics will actually give you a strong marketing advantage in tough ties: your customers will be more loyal, a bit less price-sensitive, perhaps, and much more willing to evangelize on your behalf.

9. Lets say I am a small businessperson who wants to try something Green in my marketing efforts, but I dont where to begin. Where should I start and how can I get my customers to notice and to care?

Start with the low-hanging fruitthe stuff thats easy and cheap and has a quick payback. Buy your printing from companies using FSC-certified paper, waterless printing, and vegetable ink. Switch from disposable foam cups to reusable ceramic mugs in the break room. Replace bottled water with filtered tap. Buy a two-sided printer and learn to use that setting. Seek out local sources manufactured with Green methods. Use Internet marketing instead of printed materials, when feasible. Etcetera, etcetera. Going Green is a process; theres always more to do, but start by taking easy steps. On the marketing sidestart mentioning all your Green initiatives. Have a web page about your commitment to sustainability. Put it in your brochures and press releases, your product packaging, etc. Mention it in your sales calls.

10. How can people get your book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green?

Its available from all the major online stores, and any bookstore can order it if you give them the ISBN: 978-0-470-40951-0. Use the full title: Guerrilla Marketing Goes Greenthere are more than 60 Guerilla Marketing books that cover other aspects of business and have nothing to do with what weve been talking about. Of course, you can also order directly from me at or 413-586-2388 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. US Eastern) and request an autographed copy. Wherever you buy it, register your purchase at to get those $2600 worth of extra goodies we talked about earlier.