The Clean and Green Club, July 2016

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Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, July 2016
This Month’s Tip: Event Planning and Marketing Lessons from a Wedding, Part 1
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A year and a half in the making, my daughter’s glorious wedding to the man she’s been living with for six years took place on June 9. Of course, my wife and I were thrilled, and we’ve adored Alana’s husband Bobby since we first met him—in Spain, where they were both exchange students and not yet a couple, in 2009.

And as a marketer who’s been advocating special events as marketing tools since 1984, I also saw many lessons I could draw from this 18-month planning experience, and share with you. I hadn’t planed an event on this scale since my own wedding in 1983, and I hadn’t started writing about marketing back then.

The lessons fall into three categories, so this is the first of three articles:
• Logistics and operations—What we did right
• Logistics and operations—What we could have done better
• Marketing/addressing audience needs

Part 1: Logistics and operations—What we did right
Know What You Want in a Venue
Alana and Bobby needed a place that could accommodate a good crowd; they invited about 200 people. As it turned out, there were only about 90 guests, and more options would have been open had we known it was going to be that small (we eliminated several because they maxed out at 100 or 130). But if 150 had attended and the place could only accommodate 100, it would have been a BIG problem.

They also wanted a country feeling, beautiful with great scenery, but not Rolls-Royce elegant. Home-like rather than hotel-like, and preferably close enough to either the happy couple (who live just outside NYC) or my wife and me here in Western Massachusetts so site visits would not be a huge burden, but that wasn’t a have-to. They absolutely required the ability to bring in an outside caterer (the bride is gluten/rice-free and vegetarian) and to serve alcohol. And of course, it had to be within our budget.

Research the Choices and Narrow them Down
Alana scoped out venues from Pennsylvania to Maine, went to their websites, and looked at their Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews. We also broadened the net by asking for suggestions from friends online and offline. Fairly early in this process, they decided that the wedding would definitely be in Western Massachusetts, within an hour or so of our house. This had many advantages logistically and cost-wise (venues and caterers here are far cheaper than the NYC area or even country settings two hours out of New York). As an example, we were able to store many wedding items in Alana’s old bedroom and bring them up in multiple carloads over a couple of days.

Once they made the decision to get married in our area, we started by visiting the top three choices (on a cold winter weekend in January, 2015, with a few inches of snow on the ground). They rejected one because it was too run-down, and another both because it was too remote and because the site owner was clearly going to be challenging to deal with. Fortunately, the third venue seemed to be perfect, and the site owner was welcoming and easy to deal with. With a Jewish bride and a Texan groom, it was a good omen to be greeted by a permanent sign that said “Shalom, Y’all—and by warm cups of tea, cookies, and an offer to move our snowy boots from the unheated mudroom to a spot where they’d be nice and toasty when we put them back on.

It was a charming and unusual private home with many homey touches and mountain views, set on a few hundred acres with several outbuildings and room to accommodate several overnight guests and many campers, about 40 minutes drive from us. It had a beautiful meadow a short walk from the main house that would be perfect for the ceremony, and another meadow right by the house where we could set up a tent for the reception.

Notice the Weak Points
In choosing this venue, we knew that parking was going to be an issue, and that any caterer would have to supplement the meager kitchen (a single four-burner stove and very limited counter space). So we talked to caterers who could bring in a portable kitchen for outdoor events, and we arranged to rent a shuttle bus to solve the parking problem.

But there were several other site issues that we found out later, so we only get a half score on this (see next month’s article).

Order 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. Find out more and order from several major booksellers (or get autographed and inscribed copies directly from me).
Download a free sampler with several excerpts, the complete Table of Contents and Index, and all the endorsements – blue link just under the second paragraph
Hear and Meet Shel
Another Recommended BookThe Local Economy Solution
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The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing “Pollinator” Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity, by Michael H. Shuman (Chelsea Green, 2015)

Michael Shuman says we go about economic development all wrong. The author of books like The Small-Mart Revolution and Local Dollars, Local Sense says most of our economic development energy goes to recruit mega-companies to locate a new facility, costs tens of thousands up to millions per job, and doesn’t make any sense.

These big companies, he says, are inappropriate development partners for several reasons:

  • They reach deep into taxpayers’ pockets for big subsidies
  • They have zero loyalty and will pick up and move again when some other community makes a better offer
  • They are often set up to actually destabilize successful, job-creating local businesses, who have to compete without subsidies against these heavily subsidized ventures
  • Typically, they don’t create very many new jobs for the amount of money they take from the government
  • Many of the jobs they do create are highly specialized and are filled by established employees moving to the area, rather than the locals who need jobs
  • Much of the money they make is exported back to the headquarters community and not spent locally.

Shuman recommends instead a policy of working with existing small businesses to provide the resources they need in several areas—five Ps of Planning, Purchasing, People, Partnerships, and Purse—in ways that require little or no government support, can become self-sustaining rapidly, and bring in new jobs for a tiny fraction of the costs incurred by the typical economic development department. The Purse chapter is particularly interesting, because most books on the green economy don’t really talk about how to fund it, and Shuman has lots of ideas about how.

The book is full of wonderful examples of this kind of assistance bringing powerful results—often because one person took the initiative and developed a new model. Just a few among many:

  • A San Francisco neighborhood issues a debit card that can be used at local businesses within the neighborhood (p. 90)
  • A local-biz loyalty program in Portland, Oregon allows businesses who in different sectors and different neighborhoods to co-market to their common customers (p. 99)—resulting in such collaborations as a profitable venture between a toy store and a coffee shop
  • A food delivery project in Vancouver, British Columbia was able to serve three times as many customers (far more efficiently and profitably) by systemizing its route delivery stops (p. 151)
  • Also in Vancouver, a community credit union was able to bring triple bottom line thinking into such projects as finding uses for food waste and a living-wage campaign—while growing to 500,000 members and $18 bn in assets (pp. 170-172)
  • Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio, expanded from building an extremely green science center to creating an integrated economic development for its host community, featuring a “green arts district” with a LEED-platinum hotel and conference center, a culinary school serving an inner-city population from nearby Cleveland, and more (pp. 200-204)

There are dozens more great examples within Shuman’s book. But even more important than the examples is the consistent empowered thinking: we can do this, we should do it, it works better, and it can be self-supporting.

Moving municipal money management is an easy way to get traction on a true self-help economic development agenda. He points out that when the city of Tucson, Arizona committed $5 m to banking locally, only one of the three community banks even responded. But that local bank was able to turn that into $36 m in new funding for local businesses—creating enough jobs that the city doubled its deposit (p. 199). Traditional economic development can’t do this.

But visionary thinking can. Schuman quotes David Orr, the professor spearheading the Oberlin initiative: “Seek out those opportunities where 2 + 2 equals 22, not just 4.”

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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriter…award-winning author of ten books…international 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).”
Privacy Policy: We Respect Your Privacy

We collect your information solely to let our mailing service send you the information you request. We do not share it with any outside party not involved in mailing our information to you. Of course, you may unsubscribe at any time—but we hope you’ll stick around to keep up with cool developments at the intersections of sustainability, social transformation, and keeping the planet in balance. Each issue of Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Newsletter has a how-to or thought-leadership article and a review of a recommended book. We’ve been doing an e-newsletter all the way back to 1997, and some of our readers have been with us the whole time.

Recent Interviews & Guest Articles:


Five-minute interview on Jennings Wire: “How Ordinary People Can Do The Extraordinary” How ordinary people start and lead movements—and how Shel saved a mountain in his own town.


Mike Schwager:
How I got started in social/environmental change at age 3 and returned to it (for life) at age 12. Dialog with Jack Nadel, 92-year-old entrepreneur with a green product line. The easiest ways a business can go green—and the real 7-figure savings that are possible when counting all the costs. Why market share doesn’t matter, and how to partner with competitors


Western Massachusetts Business Show with Ira Bryck, Profiles of several companies that were founded to good in the world. Green companies as price leaders. How to get a copy of my $9.95 ebook, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life—With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle at no cost.


Bill Newman: (segment starts at 28:28): A quick, intense 11-minute trip through the highlights of my work

Ask those Branding Guys: (segment starts at 9:23)



Todd Schinck, Intrepid Now, with a nice emphasis on the power of ordinary people to change the world: (segment starts at 2:28)


JV Crum, Conscious Millionaire, second interview: We cover my first activist moment at age 3, how I helped save a mountain, the next big environmental issue, and how a simple vow in my 20s changed my life (segment starts at 3:25)


Jill Buck, Go Green Radio: (segment starts at 0:52). The difference between socially responsible and socially transformative businesses, impact of a social agenda on employees, urban farming, new energy technologies…and a cool case study of how a dog groomer could green up.


Kristie Notto, Be Legendary: The perfect example of a business that addresses social issues, the hidden revenue model I showed a social entrepreneur, how a famous gourmet food company went head-to-head with a much larger competitor, what we can learn about engineering from nature, and why wars are solvable


Guest on Leon Jay, Socialpreneurtv (you’ll get to see what I look like when I’m overdue for a haircut/beard trim—a rare glimpse at Shaggy Shel)


Two-part interview on Steve Sapowksy’s excellent EcoWarrior Radio podcast: (Listen to Part 1 before Part 2, of course)


The first of two excellent shows on Conscious Millionaire

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