GREEN MARKETING vs. BUSINESS COMMON SENSE: What Flavor Kool-Aid Are You Drinking?

by Johnny Dollar

February 22, 2012

You know what drives me batty? Green marketing initiatives that cost me extra money and reduce my ability to be competitive in the marketplace at the same time!

It really pisses me off when the holier-than-thou, feel-good, navel-contemplating crowd shoves another compliance requirement down my throat or implements some sound-good initiative that a) is going to cost me more money, b) negatively impacts my revenue generation and c) restricts my ability to grow my business.

Oh, thank you sir! I feel sooo much “safer,” “cleaner,” and “equaler.”

Let me give you a few examples of how the green police crowd acts like they are doing me a favor, when they actually take great delight in sticking it up my sunny side and costing me money!

Here’s a classic ongoing example:  slow steaming international ocean vessel shipping implemented to a) reduce our carbon footprint, b) reduce fuel consumption, and c) make the planet a better place for all of us! Horse hockey!

What the hell is a carbon footprint anyway? Something a chimney sweep left on your living room rug? No, it’s a trumped-up formula, based on flawed and fudged scientific research, being used as an excuse to make you feel bad if you don't participate—willingly—in this initiative designed to bilk you out of your hard-earned money, while creating a false capacity issue in the marketplace to use as an added excuse to raise ocean container rates in the middle of peak season when there is no peak in the season! TSA are you listening? Common sense tells you this doesn’t make sense, but all the trade magazines, trade show presentation titles, and webinars continue to hype the benefits of slow steaming. (and I do mean hype!) You still drinking the Kool-Aid?

Okay, riddle me this, genius. What’s the carbon footprint of that last volcano that blew its top in Indonesia? Sorry, I ain’t buying the carbon footprint crap, and don’t try to charge me anything using that misnomer as your benchmark to invoice me! Ain’t buying it!

Lets back up for a moment and consider the context of the word initiative. I see it two ways:

Initiatives can be positive:  such as revenue growth, positive cash flow, etc.

Initiative can be negative, stifling competition via a social responsibility, activist agenda disguised as a feel-good thing like safety or environment.

Take safety for example. Everyone loves safety right? Well, back in 2004, when the feds decided to revise the driver rules for hours of service, 14 hours allowed per day with time out for stops seemed like a nice thing to do to improve the driver safety situation, and it was done under the pretext of improving safety. However, the net effect for real business was to a) make it more difficult to optimize driver utilization and b) shrink the geographical service area capability of a one-day out and back trip from my DC. Now I can’t reach or service as many accounts as I used to. Oh thank you, sir! Profit motives be damned! We’ve got to improve safety. These sanctimonious bastards really know how to help don’t they? It doesn’t affect their paycheck, does it?

Now fast forward to today. CSA 2010, another feel-good safety initiative from your friendly and customer focused FMCSA, designed to save as many as 25  driver lives per year! We can’t argue that this is not a noble objective, but it does have a few downsides from a business perspective. For example:

It increases the administrative burden on the company owner with a new batch of rules, regulations, and reporting requirements to be in compliance with.

It puts the driver’s record under the microscope, gleefully awards him points for infractions, (yellow card) and when his dance card is full (red card) he gets banned forever from driving commercially. Thank you, sir!

Once we start driving (no pun intended) CDL drivers out of the business we can look forward to a growing driver shortage and reduced capacity in the marketplace. Thank you, sir!

Because of the change in driver hours of service (again), the clock is running without any pause when the driver is not being utilized, resulting in a further shrinkage of an already reduced service area! Thank you, sir!

Get the idea?

Green marketing may sound good on the surface, but I’d look under the hood to see if it really makes financial sense for your business. Then you can decide if you want to feel good or if generating some income based on sound business principles and common sense might make you feel better?

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