The Clean and Green Club, December 2015

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Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, December 2015
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Do you have five minutes to help me better understand and serve your green/social change business needs? Please fill out this quick survey:

Now Through the End of the Year: Print Editions of Two of Shel’s Best Books (and an award-winning novel by his wife) for Just $4.95 per Copy

Perfect holiday gifts for the entrepreneurs, managers, marketers, and business students in your life—and for your own personal library. Also great to buy in bulk and donate to your favorite educational institutions and charities.
Nobody has to know that you only paid $4.95 each (plus shipping) for these award-winning and classy books from respected publishers. Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World (Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist)(Chelsea Green) retails for $22.95, and Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (Independent Publisher Magazine Groundbreaking Indie Book)(John Wiley & Sons) retails for $21.95.

My wife, award-winning novelist D. Dina Friedman, decided to join the fun and make one of her novels available at the same price (and hers is a hardback!). Playing Dad’s Song, published by Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, tells the story of a boy who faces crises ranging from a school bully to the death of his father in 9/11, and finds his way back to his center through music. It’s perfect for kids aged 9-15.

Because we’ve recently taken the rights to these books back, you can have print editions of these critically acclaimed books for less than a quarter of their original prices. Sometimes, there is more power in spreading a message widely, and low prices can make that happen. Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, especially—with its message of business success through green and ethical business practices—has a role to play in changing the culture, and I want to see that change ignite.

The holidays are coming and everyone loves easy, frugal, useful gift ideas. (Note: if you’d like to be more generous, the gift of a strategic green/social change profitability consultation or copywriting project from me could be life-changing.)

Read more about these amazing books at (Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green) CODE: 4.95guerrillabook (Grassroots Marketing). CODE: 4.95gmbook (it comes with a two-chapter update covering social media, no extra charge) (Playing Dad’s Song) CODE: 4.95pdsbook

Then visit to place your order. Make sure to use the proper coupon codes.

Note: Paperback only; ebook editions are available at the usual undiscounted price (still a great value). Quantities are limited to what we have in stock. If you’re interested in a bulk purchase, let’s talk. If you’d like your books signed and inscribed, please tell us what to say.

This Month’s Tip: Do You Make Yourself Clear, Part 1
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I was scouting my library for the next book to review and spotted a title by one of the world’s most prominent green economists. Great, I thought—until I started reading.

When I review a book in this newsletter, I read it all the way through. By the second paragraph, I was stumbling over so many obtuse sentences, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to tolerate 300 pages of this. The language was so ponderous, it felt almost like reading a foreign tongue. And I have a degree in communications, am trained in journalism, and I’m an avid reader, reading at least four and as many as 12 books each month of 2015.

Authors of nonfiction generally want to communicate and convince.

Yet, if this book is written too thickly for me, imagine trying to convince a tradesperson who reads two or three novels a year that the message of this book is worth all the work.

Here’s a 111-word excerpt from the paragraph that convinced me not to bother reading the book (it continues for another four lines):

The power of the concept of sustainable development is that it both reflects and evokes a latent shift in our vision of how the economic activities of human beings are related to the natural world—an ecosystem which is finite, non-growing, and materially closed. The demands of these activities on the containing ecosystem for regeneration of raw material “inputs” and absorption of waste “outputs” must, I will argue, be kept at ecologically sustainable levels as a condition of sustainable development. This shift is resisted by most economic and political institutions, which are founded on traditional quantitative growth and legitimately fear its replacement by something as subtle and challenging as qualitative development.

The problem isn’t just a matter of sentence length, but that’s a piece of it. Jamming three long sentences together with no break is certainly part of the problem. Long paragraphs compound the situation. I would have started a new paragraph with “This shift.”

But the biggest problem is the convoluted, meandering thought process. A good edit could easily fix this. To prove the point, I’ve rewritten his first sentence (dropping the word count from 44 words to 22):

Sustainable development’s true power is the way it anchors human economic activities to the natural world—a finite, stable, and closed ecosystem.

You can still get a complex message across with simple, understandable language; you don’t have to talk down to your reader. Consider these two paragraphs:

When you look deeply, a lot of the causes of hunger, poverty, war, violence, and catastrophic climate change turn out to be about resources: who uses how much, whether they’re taken sustainably, how fairly they’re distributed. When we address resources systemically, we’re able to transform hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war and violence into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance.

We actually know how to do this. Passive-energy construction expert David Bainbridge estimates that not only can we reduce the typical building’s energy footprint by 90 percent on new construction, but we can even cut the footprint on existing buildings by 50 to 70 percent. We knew how to build near-zero net-energy buildings at least as far back as 1983, when Amory Lovins built his house. We understand how to significantly increase crop yields without using chemicals and without compromising quality.

I like to think the above excerpt from my forthcoming book Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World takes some pretty complex concepts and makes them understandable—even with sentences of 36 and 38 words. 

Just to be fair, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that my writing could also use tightening. I think my original is easy to understand, but I could have written it even more clearly, starting by knocking seven words out of the first sentence:

Look deeply: hunger, poverty, war, violence, and catastrophic climate change often turn out to be about resources: who uses how much, whether they’re taken sustainably, how fairly they’re distributed.

Finally, one more example (from a different book) of what not to do:

The [name of tool] provides data profiles of four sample generic companies as starter sets with which to initialize the online simulator dashboard and worksheets.

One sentence, and I’m already lost!

Next month, we’ll look at some specific dos and don’ts to keep your writing clear.

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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriteraward-winning author of ten booksinternational speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel). Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Green And Profitable, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.

He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).

“As always, some of the links in this newsletter earn commissions—because I believe in the products and services enough to promote them (I get asked to endorse lots of other programs I don’t share with you, because I don’t find them worthy).”
Hear and Meet Shel

NEW YORK BOOK LAUNCH EVENT for Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World: Green America’s Green Festival—New York, Saturday, April 16, Javits Center. Mainstage talk followed by book signing. This is a great event; I’ve attended several times and this will be my third time speaking. Not just terrific speakers but also great organic food samples and cool products like the wallet and purse vendor who makes stuff out of old tires (I use one of those wallets that I bought there a couple of years ago).

OFFICIAL PUBLICATION DATE FOR Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World is Tuesday, April 19—and Earth Day is Friday, April 22. Expect several more events to be added in April, possibly including a return engagement at Gulf Coast Green in Houston.

WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS BOOK LAUNCH EVENT for Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, Wednesday, April 20, 7 p.m., Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley. Come early if you want a seat; I’m expecting to fill the room.

SLOW LIVING SUMMIT, Brattleboro, VT, April 28-30 (theme: Food and Agriculture Entrepreneurship), My talk will be on the 30th: “Impossible is a Dare: How Your Food Business Can Make a Difference on Hunger, Poverty, War, and Catastrophic Climate Change

BOOK EXPO AMERICA, Chicago, May 11-13. Hoping to set up an event either at the show or at a local bookseller.

Preorder your copy of Shel’s newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

Learn how the business world can profit while solving hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change (hint: they’re all based in resource conflicts). Endorsed by Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, business blogger and bestselling author Seth Godin, and many others. Release date is April 19, just in time for Earth Day, and you can now preorder from several major booksellers (or get autographed and inscribed copies from me). Learn all about this powerful book at
Friends Who Want to Help

DONNA CUTTING’s new book, 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers, comes out this week (and includes a little contribution from me). If you’re looking for ways to ‘wow!’ your customers, the book gives you 501 easy-to-implement ideas to inspire loyalty, get new customers, and make a lasting impression.

I recommend 501 Ways to anyone who wants to ‘roll out the red carpet’ for their customers, but feels strapped for time, money, and energy. Power-packed with proven, ready-to-implement action ideas to enhance your customers’ experience and make your life easier.

OSHANA HIMOT (the business coach who has catapulted me exactly where I want to be in creating a career around healing the world) is again offering no-charge consultations (and her phone number has changed. She writes:

“I am a business and life coach and work with people in many fields, assisting them to expand their work. it is unique for each person – the best programs to create, the groups to work with, how to find customers and clients…

I work with people who would like to help create a better society and can benefit from coaching. For a complimentary consultation, call 602-463-6797 or email Oshana Himot, MBA, CHT”

Another Recommended Book: Evolved Enterprise
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Evolved Enterprise: How to Re-think, Re-imagine & Re-invent Your Business to Deliver Meaningful Impact & Even Greater Profit by Yanik Silver (no publisher named, 2015)

When Yanik Silver sent an advance manuscript of his new book, I liked it so much that I adapted a whole chapter as an essay in my own new book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. He’s one of four outside contributors.

My enthusiasm is apparently shared by a very influential group. Alongside my blurb, he’s got people like Tony Hsieh (founder of Zappos); John Paul DeJoria (co-founder of Paul Mitchell); and my brilliant friend Sam Horn (author of Tongue Fu and several other excellent books).

It’s focused very strongly on how business can have an impact in the wider world, and makes an excellent complement to Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. But its focus is quite different; with the exception of the shared chapter, there’s almost no overlap. Although Yanik comes out of the world of big-money Internet marketing, his book has an almost spiritual feel—reinforced by the mandala-like concept wheel that opens several chapters. He even uses the term “Transcending” as the third of the three stages of an evolved enterprise; the others are Transactional and Transformational (pp. 48-56).

He draws many lessons in marketing AND management through his own experience and those of his Maverick and Underground members—as well as thought leaders from Thomas Edison to Richard Branson. Edison, he points out, created an entire ecosystem of his ventures, all of which supported each other (p. 93); in the modern world, Zingerman’s does the same thing, with a bakery supplying bread to the flagship deli, for example (pp. 86-88). Tony Hsieh notes the importance of building a culture—not just hiring for values, but firing over them (p. 185). On the same page, Yanik shares a powerful insight about leverage: “little hinges swing big doors.” And a long guest essay by Joe Mechlinski is just filled with powerful leadership insights (pp. 195-207).

It’s a lot about how the good feeling you have making a difference in the world—and the fun you can have while doing it—translates into measurable bottom-line profits. The fun piece is very important to Yanik, a self-described adventure junkie. There’s a long an honorable tradition around this; he notes that the Dalai Lama has referred to himself as a “professional laugher” (p. 104).

That fun often translates to really creative ideas around building a deep and lasting community, internally and externally. Whether it’s exotic branded swag (such as the green Speedos that have become a part of Yanik’s Maverick brand), a unique collective experience, or even the ability to earn some sort of merit badges, as Harley riders do (pp. 170-171)—these can have vast marketing impact.

Creative marketers, he says, have to fall in love with customers and prospects (p. 160), and to use that love to do the unexpected. I’ve said for years that your real brand is not your slogan, logo, colors, etc., but the prospect/customer’s perception of you. Yanik puts it a bit differently: “It’s what other people are saying about you” (p. 161). This could take the form of genuine caring, such as Zappos not just refunding the purchase when a customer’s husband died in an accident before she could give him the brand new pair of boots she’d bought him, but sending flowers for the funeral! (p. 143).

How do you find ways to inject that creativity and that love? Yanik offers not only the usual tools, but also “community decoders” such as origin stories, in-group lingo and rituals, creeds, barriers to participation, sharing the inside story, artifacts, exceptional experiences, AND a higher purpose (pp. 163-180).

He looks quite a bit about the choices we business owners can make in our consumer role. Example: choosing to hire a firm that employs disadvantaged workers to fill goodie bags for a conference (p. 50).

And much of the work is backed up with rock-solid numbers that validate our choices to use our businesses to do good in the world. I knew about Patagonia’s Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign and mention it in my new book. But I didn’t know that the company’s sales leapfrogged 40 percent in the next two years (pp. 150-151). He has numbers for many of the best known case studies of social entrepreneurship and business creativity.

It would be nice if we could find these numbers easily. Unfortunately, Evolved Enterprise doesn’t have an index, although it has several blank pages at the back where one could have gone. It also could have used a better interior design and one more proofread. Despite these minor flaws, this book crams a lot of wisdom in, breaks it up with a lot of humor and visual concept examples, and could knock years off your social entrepreneurship learning curve. I recommend it strongly, and especially in tandem with my own Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World.

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