Monthly Archives: January 2010

Is the Supreme Court Killing Sustainability? Or Boosting it?

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling struck a very strong cord for me regarding any “progressive” mass agenda.  As I understand  it, corporations can now;

* spend whatever they want

* for/with whoever they want,

* whenever they want.

The span of influence now open to corporations is staggering.  Since corporations usually have a vested interest in the status quo, the ruling becomes a real threat to progress and change.  Obama is quoted saying as much in this NY Times piece – “the ruling would also make it “more difficult to pass common-sense laws” to promote energy independence or expand health care.”

After the shock wore off, I starting to think about how this could impact sustainability.  After all, politicians are by large extent marketers – they are sellers of ideas and platforms/agendas.  And if sustainability isn’t on the agenda for their corporate constituents, individual voices could get a lot quieter vs. the new megaphone of corporations.

At first blush, this empowers the bulk electric, oil and gas companies to keep on with their cash cow agendas and just raise the volume of their lobbyist efforts.  Exxon, Mobile, BP – they can all continue to do some light marketing towards sustainability as pure PR to cover themselves publicly.

But let’s look at the other side.  There are some significant companies that have publicly declared  roadmaps and future spending that’s significantly tied to new green ways of doing business.  GE, Intel, Cisco – they’re betting real development and marketing dollars on sustainability.  Many of the recent “I’m an IBMer” 30 second TV spots directly showcase efforts towards making smarter and more sustainable solutions possible.

Marketing and social media have the potential to play a huge role here.  Will corporations do “what’s right” because they’ve figured out the math makes it what’s right for them?  And how will individual voices calling for real change – individuals whose influence is amplified by social media to drive brand loyalty and dollars among their network – motivate corporations to continue down the sustainable path?

The unintended consequences of the Supreme Court decision could actually drive sustainability, mobilizing both concerned citizens and vested corporations alike to keep green on the national radar.

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Green Marketing Opps: Hidden in Plain Sight

I received my quarterly newsletter from my car insurer, in this case Liberty Mutual.  It’s a nice, glossy 14 page piece with short “tips” pieces on everything from accident statistics while texting to winter defensive driving tips.

Right on the cover they list “go green” as a subhead to one of the main pieces about updating your home.  Given my interest (as you would assume given this blog), I immediately flipped to the third page where they list 5 ways to go green.  There were multiple categories, everything from cool metal roofing to mold-resistant wallboard, windows, etc.

Looking over the list, it struck me – what a wasted opportunity for marketers.  Here’s a captive, pre-qualified audience, receiving a direct communication and not a vendor mention in site.

Maybe Liberty Mutual has a policy of not “sponsoring” or favoring specific vendors.  But wait – they list multiple blog sites for green remodeling info, and list nari.org to help you find a contractor.   And on the back cover there is a prompt for the website to find info about discounts on products from Liberty Mutual partners.  So that can’t be it….

Why couldn’t/haven’t they approached Home Depot  or Andersen Windows as a sponsor for these pieces?    Why wouldn’t current or potential partners want that opportunity?

As companies struggle with mass marketing and look to find customers in more cost-effective and meaningful ways, they must look to blogs, social media and other avenues.  But they must also look to leverage opportunities right in front of their potential customers.

Look around your house or office.  What do you see, and could you use that for your green company?

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Launch of Sustain PR

Sustainability and green technology has moved to the forefront of America’s, and the world’s, collective conscious.

What it isn’t

* Lone scientific voices in the woods talking about impending climate change disasters.

*  Al Gore pushing the “Inconvenient Truth” boulder up the hill.

* “Tree huggers” spouting hard left views based on altruism.

What it is

* The DOE pushing weatherproofing jobs to bolster the economy.

* The latest James Bond movie talking centering on environmental espionage via the water supply.

* Cisco, GE, Intel and other corporate giants announcing Smart Grid funding and initiatives.

* The inflection point where green is now being equated with $$$.

The questions that remain

* What is the best technology to deploy, and in what order?

* What’s working today and what makes sense for tomorrow?

* Is the power for change in the hands of businesses, individuals, or both?

The answers hinge in large part on market understanding and education  Making sense of the vast amounts of information now flooding both consumers and corporations .  It comes down to how, why and where leaders and innovators are getting the word out.

We’ll be tracking the successes and lessons specifically around the communications efforts and strategy around sustainability.   Stay tuned….

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