Monthly Archives: September 2010

How does reality impact Green and Sustainable Marketing?

Two recent posts from local Boston press got me thinking about how we are going to move forward and effectively market in the sustainability/green space.

First up, Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe, who discusses how according to certain statistics building landfills is more ecological than recycling.  I’ve seen many stories in the past regarding how “green” certain initiatives are, CSAs and local farming along with recycling being the two main examples.  So what’s real?  Does it actually cost us more and is more harmful to recycle?  These programs have been in place for decades now, and we still don’t have a definitive answer for the masses.  I predict we’ll always recycle – it’s now accepted much like an urban myth, and its a catalyst for mass understanding of the potential impact each of us has on the planet.  But that doesn’t necessarily make it true….

Next up is Martin LaMonica at Cnet, who discusses the idea of rapid innovation (like traditional IT approaches) vs. a longer term steady move towards energy reform.  This piece gets to the heart of it – what’s the right approach, investment in new technologies or evolution of existing ones?  Where do we spend our resources, both financially and (from my perspective) marketing-wise?  Which is the right area to promote?  Choosing the right path here is crucial…its commonly accepted that right now we’re already “behind” in the US vs. other countries on the green tech arch.  Making the wrong strategic investment and pushing technologies that aren’t likely to be winners (is solar to capital-intensive?  Does wind bring too little return?) dilutes our ability to succeed in the short and long-term.  What’s the reality of what we have today vs. “potential” solutions?

Marketers play a critical role in shaping which technologies are accepted and valued.  With heavy promotion and awareness behind it, recycling right now is accepted as the “right” thing to do.   For marketers, balancing the truth and doing an effective job for their clients, especially startups in emerging markets like sustainability is a hard balancing act.  Know your facts, they will come back to help or haunt you sooner or later.

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Why Good Sustainable Marketing Matters

Had the opportunity to watch “The Cove” while on vacation last week.  Highly recommended if you haven’t had the chance yet.  It was disturbing, enlightening and inspiring, all at the same time, and well worthy of its many accolades and awards.

The extras were also worth the time, and I was struck by something Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in one of the pieces.  He was discussing the Greek idea of stewardship for all of the commons – water, air, land – and how ecology is rooted in the Greek work eco, meaning home.

It was this notion of the commons that stood out for me.  You could assume if anyone is involved in sustainability at their core this notion is embraced and fundamental.  However I’m not sure as marketers, even in these days of increased consciousness, that we fully understand the power of this idea.  The idea that everything we produce, create and promote that impacts the air, water and earth has a responsibility to the larger community in which we live.

This isn’t a call for green washing or overstating a company’s CSR policy – actually its the opposite.  If organizations are to be believed and embraced by the larger public when they “market” their sustainable credentials in any form, at the base of those efforts there needs to be an understanding of the commons and how important they are to each individual (aka customer).

I’m looking forward the Verdantix webinar on September 9 discussing the state of sustainable PR and Marketing, which will focus on this very notion of what is right approach when communicating about a company’s sustainable programs to ALL of the audiences impacted by our products and services.

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Filed under Green and Consumers, Green Marketing, Sustainable Marketing