Sustainable Print Marketing

Aaron Gilbreath | August 24, 2022

Can print marketing really be sustainable? We think so.

Print marketing permeates every part of our lives. Paper posters and glossy catalogues show beautiful images, delicious menu items, seasonal products, and exciting promotions. In our digital world of scrolling news feeds and temporary ads, print materials get customers’ attention. Consumers turn their heads to look at print assets. They want to flip through their matted pages, and that drives sales.

But modern consumers are also concerned about paper products’ environmental impact. Increasing numbers of customers want ways to live more sustainably, and they search for businesses who provide the opportunity to lessen their environmental impact through purchasing decisions and through businesses’ own sustainable practices.

Can print marketing ever be sustainable? We at BrandMuscle think so.

Sustainable print marketing starts with the particular ways that businesses source and print their materials, from inks to waste reduction strategies to energy efficient facilities.

How to Print Sustainably

BrandMuscle offers customers numerous ways to reduce the impact of their print marketing:

1. Responsible Sourcing of Print Materials

Sustainability starts at the supply chain. BrandMuscle takes sourcing and recycling seriously, so we offer a range of materials and products that provide long-term business value, and that can be recycled when the time comes.

2. Greener Processes at our Facilities

You want your local marketing to have a big business impact while keeping its footprint light along the way. We lessen our footprint so you can lessen yours. BrandMuscle’s print and fulfillment centers use LEAN manufacturing processes — which is an approach to production that maximizes productivity by minimizing waste and improving efficiency. The result: LEAN improves business value while reducing production’s footprint. Our facility has proudly received G7 Master Facility Qualification, a rigorous, three-level compliance program, and certification from FSC, the Forest Stewardship Council, is underway.

3. Waste Reduction Through Digitization

Everything that’s made, shipped, and stored has environmental impact. We mitigate that impact by digitizing workflows, using virtual proofing in place of print proofing, and digital archiving. No paper or ink is required to create and store images digitally.

4. Sustainable Print-on-Demand and Fulfillment

Printing on-demand saves you time and money by producing exactly what you need, when you need it. Printing on-demand also reduces unnecessary waste. Businesses used to get discounts for printing in bulk at the beginning of the year, and they disposed of unused stock at the year’s end. That’s the old way of doing business. The new way forward is the BrandMuscle way. When you create less collateral, you throw less unused collateral away.

Fulfillment has a carbon footprint, too. Fulfillment on-demand takes sustainability further by reducing transportation emissions and wasted storage space. A more conscious approach to on-demand print and fulfillment reduces unnecessary waste and emissions, and it saves money while saving space on the earth for other things that matter.

5. Print Consolidation and Sustainability

Our Consolidator tool is a tablet- and mobile-friendly solution that prints long-run collateral more efficiently and precisely, at a lower cost. Having individual sales reps, dealers, agents, and partners place their print orders as stand-alone pieces generates less waste and requires less storage. Consolidating print orders and shipping them in bulk addresses fulfillment’s carbon footprint by reducing unnecessary waste, while it provides clients with a discounted rate. It’s a win-win: You save money, you achieve sustainability goals, and customers know you care about the environment.

6. Recycling

Along with responsible sourcing, our green process involves finding ways to recycle. Our 35,000-square-foot digital print and production facility uses 100% recyclable packaging and shipping materials and 25% post-recycled paper products. 100% of our paper, plastic, and ink waste is recycled. And we still have an industry-leading 99.7% error-free accuracy rate!

7. Low Carbon Footprint Employee Practices

Outside of our print production processes, BrandMuscle helps employees reduce waste and their footprint, too. Our Cleveland and Chicago office buildings are LEED certified. Employees in both the U.S. and India work on ENERGY STAR rated laptops. Encouraging employees to work from home reduces our carbon footprint by reducing commutes, and those who come into the office are encouraged to reduce that footprint further by using public transit. Virtualization technologies reduce our physical server footprint and power consumption, and we have e-waste recycling partnerships with vendors for electronics nearing the end of their lifespans.

QR Codes’ Role in Sustainability

Adding QR codes to your point-of-sale print assets can further reduce waste by increasing their reach and extending their life. Digital tactics such as paid search and social media influencing drive sales, too, but QR codes, in particular, offer a unique opportunity to optimize print marketing while fitting into companies’ sustainability goals.

QR codes are a matrix barcode that contains product and brand information, read through your camera phone. QR codes leverage traditional marketing tactics to unlock digital experiences such as virtual demos, customer testimonials, recipes, and other immersive product information. QR codes have experienced a resurgence as an effective, low-cost way for customers to get information quickly and efficiently. While traditional print media tactics such as posters and door hangers still work incredibly well, CR codes bridge the gap between traditional and digital marketing and enable local marketers to embrace modern strategies without abandoning the bread-and-butter tactics that have served them well. By extending a print assets’ life, QR codes keep those assets out of the landfills and recycling streams for longer.

BrandMuscle regularly helps brands leverage the power of QR codes.

For example, BrandMuscle helped a popular national bank brand add QR codes to over 25 home lending advisors’ marketing materials available within the BrandMuscle platform. With approximately 4,700 U.S. branches, Home Lending services offered a way to engage established customers differently and convert potential customers without requiring a Google search. The advisors printed over 1,000 pieces of collateral, including business cards, flyers, and advertisements. After modifying them, customers scanned over 1,800 QR codes. Results were impressive. Quick customer adoption reinforced the value of fresh marketing approaches and revisiting proven tactics. The company saw enough business value that the bank continued to add QR codes to additional materials across the site.

What Customers Want

As a whole, Americans want better recycling programs. Research by the Consumer Brands Association, which represents manufacturers of food, beverage, and household consumer packaged goods, found that 88% of respondents were concerned about the environment, because recycling matters to them. Businesses want to give consumers what they want. CBA research shows that 80% of the 25 largest CPG producers aim to transition their packaging to 100% fully recyclable packaging, for all products, by 2030. The proverbial needle is moving. Sustainability is the future of marketing.

BrandMuscle can help your brand improve your print marketing’s effectiveness while reducing your carbon footprint and aligning with your customers’ environmental values.

Ready to Establish and Reach Your Sustainability Goals?

Contact BrandMuscle to develop a channel marketing strategy that drives both business and environmental value.

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