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Tips for Greener Photography: Mulch Marketing 101

Resources for Greener Promotional Materials


By Thea Dodds and Dawn Tacker

The purpose of all promotional materials is to sell your services and products, and to build your brand. But the methods of marketing have changed drastically with the rising sophistication of electronic media. Are printed materials going the way of the dinosaur? Greening your promotional kit is an opportunity to make your business sell better with less waste and lower costs. Here are some ideas to green your marketing efforts.

Shades of Green

Your promotional strategy should comprise a variety of marketing materials aimed at your target audience. It is rare that one promotional piece alone will be enough of a call to action to turn a window shopper into a client. You have to hit your target market from different angles through different types of media. This article will focus on electronic and printed promotional materials, and we’ll have future Greener Photography articles on other types of promotional materials. Each of the marketing methods here is an opportunity to choose greener marketing materials and brand yourself as an earth-friendly photographer.

What are greener promotional materials?

There are several different types of marketing materials, each with its own shade of green. Even with the most conventional marketing options, there is always a “greener” choice you can make.


The most earth-friendly marketing materials are those that have virtually zero energy cost to reproduce—electronic marketing materials. These include the most basic portfolio and informational pieces, such as your website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. As visual artists, most photographers are already using these media as their first interaction with clients. Assess your online presence with an eye toward efficient marketing. Can clients find the information they need? Can you track the results?

You can take your electronic presence one step greener by choosing an Internet service provider that uses alternative energy sources such as solar and wind energy to power their hosting. See Greener Photography for a list of ISPs.

Second tier electronic marketing tools used by many photographers include e-mail marketing, portfolio slideshows and electronic newsletters. These tools have the added bonus of facilitating viral marketing, as they can be forwarded by clients to their extended networks. Use analytic tools to track the effectiveness of your e-marketing campaigns.

Finally, consider the efficiency and green qualities of PDF-formatted information. Rate cards, brochures, product descriptions and even client contracts can be sent electronically. You can drastically cut down on the amount of printed materials provided to clients this way.


When you absolutely need to provide printed materials, there are ways to keep them as green as possible. First, make a realistic estimate of how many copies you need for a defined period of time and just print what you need. Short-run printing uses less resources and allows you to update your materials more frequently. Second, consider your marketing pieces and how they can fit together. For example, design a simple printed piece for each type of photography that you promote, then design an overall piece into which these individual pieces are placed. This allows customized materials with the least amount of waste.

To choose greener options for your printed marketing materials, ask yourself and your printer the following questions:

  • What is the paper made of? Look for recycled content, unbleached paper, or handmade/dual purpose paper like birdseed paper.
  • What kind of ink is being used? Consider non-toxic alternatives such as soy- and wax-based inks.
  • Where is the paper made? Locally made paper will have a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Where is the printing being done? Working with a local printer can mean less shipping.
  • How is it being delivered? Order printed materials via ground shipping whenever possible, which uses less energy instead of air freight. Or choose a local printer and pick it up yourself.

Brand it Green

Studies show that consumers value green products. Don't miss the opportunity to show your clients you care about the environment in your promo materials.

  • Put a recycled symbol on recycled paper products.
  • Ask recipients not to print your PDFs or e-mails unless necessary and tell them why.
  • Join Greener Photography and put your member logo on your marketing materials.

Share your creative branding and marketing ideas! Leave a comment below, or e-mail Dawn Tacker. Stay tuned for Greener Marketing 201 for ideas on more ways to brand it green.


Greener Photography
Brand it Green article
Greener Photography links page (web hosting and other resources)
Marketing your Photography Studio Virtually

Thea Dodds and Dawn Tacker are the co-founders of Greener Photography.