Being seen to be green is vital to the mission

Part of the reason why print has a bad environmental reputation is because printers aren’t doing enough to clear up the myths. Printers have a duty to let clients know the truth. Although we may see each other as rivals, it’s something from which we will all benefit. We should take pride in our industry.

If every printer got out there and told people that print is a better option than you think, it would make a big difference.

Staff in buying roles may shun printing as they are ignorant of the environmental impacts of electronic versus print media. They may have no idea how much new printing technology boosts energy efficiency.

I always include environmental advice when I send out marketing letters. I explain that computers use power even when they’re sitting idle. They also burn energy whenever emails are opened or sent. According to data from Two Sides, an hour of online reading creates 226 grams of C02. A 700-page document burned on CD outputs about 300 grams, but it only takes 85 grams to print that document – which can be read forever with no further impact. I also explain that paper is a renewable resource and that the printing industry is constantly looking to improve energy efficiency.

One thing I never do is debate climate change with clients. I learned from family and friends that it is a polarising topic. I usually don’t raise environmental issues when I’m talking to clients on the phone, but if they bring it up, I reply that I have some really interesting data and I send it to them. It’s great, because it gives me an excuse to market to them.

Even if they don’t bring it up, I include a ‘Did you know?’ section in my marketing message. That part is in red and the rest is in green, so their attention is drawn to it even if they’re not looking for it.

I spread the word with minimal effort. Really, any printing company can and should. The Sydney Morning Herald published a letter with my advice in 2011. Ironically, I added it to email blasts that year. Sales instantly rose 10%.

I strongly recommend printing companies dispense similar advice and invite clients to see the Two Sides website for more data.

Clients call the advice “amazing” or “surprising”. No one expresses scepticism, because my advice is specific. So far, no one has directly told me that I gained a print order due to it, but it makes voices friendlier and quote requests quicker.

If a client is a designer, they typically say, “Yeah, print’s better than people think”. Now they have some concise wording to offer their client base. When I ‘shared the love’ with another printing company, I was made their first sub-contractor.

My business consultant once told me that one way to market to people is to offer something value-added. Environmental advice is a value-add that people will respond to. It could lead to more sales.

If all printers pushed the environmental message, the government might start becoming aware that we’re a major part of the local manufacturing industry and that we deserve support. With the green movement, there has been so much of a push against manufacturing, and this would help correct the balance.

Linda Vij is the co-owner of Centrum Printing in Sydney

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