Tuesday, December 21, 2010

10 awesome agency websites - iMediaConnection.com

"Like 'em or hate 'em, each is thought-provoking and worth reviewing: "
Smart agency websites embrace user-centered design and balance usability, emotion, and aesthetic. Here are 10 of the absolute best.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What do Budweiser, Plato, Sartre, Green Building have in common?

When you think of green building, do you think Plato, pattern recognition, Sartre, apperception and Budweiser?

Maybe it's time we all started. Take TED.org to lunch this week and checkout this video from Dan Phillips -- inspiring, droll and provocative. In short, brilliant.

Dan Phillips: Creative houses from reclaimed stuff | Video on TED.com

Gevo takes #1 position in 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy with 150 hours of voting remaining : Biofuels Digest - biofuels, biodiesel, ethanol, algae, jatropha, green gasoline, green diesel, and biocrude daily news

An upset in the making? Bioenergy's answer to American Idol?

Cyberspace has been buzzing with the possibility that perrennial favorite, Solazyme, may be unseated by Gevo.

And take a look at those just outside the top 20 -- great to see these cos. getting recognition!

Biofuels Digest reports that voting is open to registered subscribers to the registered subscribers of the Biofuels Digest, Geothermal Digest and Renewable Chemicals Digest e-newsletters. The polls are open through Tues., November 30th at 5pm EST. So, there's still time to make your voice heard.

Gevo takes #1 position in 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy with 150 hours of voting remaining : Biofuels Digest - biofuels, biodiesel, ethanol, algae, jatropha, green gasoline, green diesel, and biocrude daily news

Today's Case Study in Marketing Agility: "TSA Scanner Proof Underwear Protects Your Privates from Government X-Rays"

Okay, I admit, I did not see this coming.

But am blown away nonetheless at how quickly and responsively the brilliant folks at Rocky Flats Gear were able to position their products as a timely-yet good-humored solution to the TSA debacle.

This is Market Agility par excellence.

"GOOD" reports that the "USA Patriot 3 Pack," one red, one white, one blue sell for $50 (US) and the single pair pack goes for $18. Available for men and women, I just put these on my holiday gift list for the travelers in my family.

TSA Scanner Proof Underwear Protects Your Privates from Government X-Rays - Business - GOOD

BTW, be sure to view the slideshow available at the above link -- another stroke of marketing brilliance

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Plan ‘Sustainability Communications,’ Not Green Marketing, for 2011 · Environmental Management & Energy News · Environmental Leader

In this pitch perfect article for Environmental Leader, Jim Nail outlines a few great resolutions for us all: Plan ‘Sustainability Communications,’ Not Green Marketing, for 2011 · Environmental Management & Energy News · Environmental Leader

Not only does Jim make an excellent point in his introduction (i.e., it doesn't pay to "hide your light under a bushel," any more than it does to greenwash); but he also raises the not-so-subtle distinction between sophisticated marcom and the advertising approach to telling the story of a business or institution.

Hope you enjoy the article as much as I did!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Missing Tip #3

Here you go --

"3. Integrate sustainability thinking into the business. This can include incorporating sustainability performance into cash bonus schemes and embarking on comprehensive change management program."

Cannot agree more!  Change management is one of those things that should carry the warning:  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  

Yet, it's tremendously important.  Anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking, exercise, diet, or change any other habitual and comfortable behavior knows how challenging Change can be.  The same is true when making the transition from unconscious consumption to mindful sustainability.  Multiply it by the number of people on your team or in your organization . . . well, you get the idea.

Change Management professionals provide the tools, techniques and objectivity organizations need to make the transition without affecting productivity, morale, time and cost.

Monday, November 8, 2010

7 Tips for Creating a Sustainable Biz Model · Environmental Management & Energy News · Environmental Leader

Here's a discussion starter for all of you in the throws of business and budget planning for 2011 (and that should be everybody ...)

Environmental Leader today published 7 Tips for Creating a Sustainable Biz Model · Environmental Management & Energy News · Environmental Leader . Really more of an outline than a tip sheet, it raises six important areas that every company should incorporate into their business planning.

(Note: Tip #3 is mysteriously missing from the article. I've requested clarification from the reporter and will update as soon as I have a reply).

Monday, November 1, 2010

To Print or Not to Print

I guarantee that when you took a look at your green/not-so-green marketing habits, you found that you and your team use and discard too much paper.

How do I know?  Because, even in the digital age, paper alone makes up roughly 70% of office waste.  The average office worker uses a little less than 600 lbs. of paper a year – that’s the equivalent of 12 cases (that's 10 reams or 5,000 sheets) of 8-1/2" X 11"paper.   Considering the cheapest case of paper at Staples sells for $37.99, that’s an average cost of $456 per person per year.  Multiply that cost by the number of people on your team or in your organization, and you have your business case for a paper reduction initiative.

It’s been tried and tried again, but the “paperless office” doesn’t exist.  Why?  For the same reasons Change (with a capital “C”) is always difficult.  People are accustomed to and comfortable with paper.  
  1. It is both a habit and a preference.  
  2. To be able to hold information in your hands gives it tangibility and even gives the reader a greater sense of control.
  3. In the overall scope of things, paper is also perceived as cheap, portable, easy to store and, in the end, recyclable.
  4. In addition, many offices with which your organization may collaborate or interact – including many government, financial and regulatory entities – still require the exchange of paper in order to transact.
So, here in the real world, removing paper from the office is not an option. But reducing paper waste is not only possible, it’s earth-smart and budget-smart.  Try these ideas on for size, then take another look at the amount of paper your team is wasting.

  • THE NO-BRAINER RULE FOR THIS INITIATIVE:  Collaborate electronically; e-mail docs, spreadsheets, presentations, brochures, etc. as attachments – either as PDFs or original files – vs. hard copies or faxes.
  • Consciously try to print drafts of documents you’re working on less often.  Review and edit documents while they are still on the screen.  Always proof the final draft before printing. 
  • Minimize the number of e-mails you print out and encourage others to do likewise.  I’m not big on lengthy e-mail signatures, but when I read “Print Responsibly” or “Think Before You Print This e-Mail,” at the bottom of a note, it does make me think twice about whether I really need a hard copy.
  • Try disabling the test page function on the printer. Some print a test document every time the computer is turned on – that’s roughly 300 wasted pages per year.
  • Waste paper should be collected for recycling and reuse, so be sure to keep recycling bins near the printer and [ideally] at every desk for paper that is not reusable, but is recyclable.
  • Always have scrap paper (i.e., printed on one side) in the printer’s default paper tray.  When a final and approved doc is ready for printing, the user can simply change the print tray to the clean paper tray – usually from the print window of their software application and without leaving his or her desk.
  • Ideally, every desk should have a paper recycling “In Box” where single-sided, reusable paper can be collected for return to the printer and reuse.
  • Make double-sided prints or copies if the situation allows.  Obvious reason:  One page will be used instead of two.
  • Bookmark information and research sites, instead of printing the pages out. Save them in your browser so you can open them again when you need them. Besides, if you’re anything like most busy execs, you’ll only lose the printed pages any way.
These are just nine steps you can take.  They’re easy to communicate, work in the real world and make sense. 

What’s working in your organization?  I’d love to know what gets results for you, so drop me a line and keep up the good work!

Just thinking out loud …

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

HOW-TO: Locating "The Beginning"

First things first:  Many thanks to each of you for your good will and best wishes since the launch of this blog.  I’m glad you’re enjoying these initial posts and especially appreciate your many comments and questions.  Based on your feedback, I’ve been working on a scheme for future postings that will guide my inexorable “stream of consciousness,” and [with any luck] be useful to all of you as readers.

It’s simple. In the coming weeks, posts will fall into any one of three categories:  “How-tos,” “Insights” and “News of Note” – with at least one “How-to” per week. After a few weeks, it would be great if you’d let me know what you think.  Deal?  Deal.

And now, for our inaugural “How-to.”

Where’s the Beginning?
Sometimes, it’s not about starting from The Beginning; it’s actually about locating The Beginning.

The overwhelming majority of questions I receive from readers, clients, and colleagues deal with “Where do I begin marketing in an eco-friendly way?” Some folks want to start with the easiest, some want to start with getting permission, some are concerned with cost, and others want to be sure they’re going to do the most impactful thing.

Whether you're looking for easy, impactful or inexpensive, the first step in transitioning to a sustainable business model -- whether you’re talking about your Marketing department or your whole organization -- is to first determine where you stand on the “Green Bell Curve.”   You may call it a self-assessment, a pre-test, or a diagnostic, but the fact is that if you don’t know where you are, how do you know what path will best lead you to your destination?

In practical terms, this means surveying when, where, and how you are currently using energy and resources. Starting within the Marketing group you will need to collect information, organize it, tabulate it and analyze it.

To give you some guidelines, the following is a list of areas to examine:
  • Paper use/paper waste
  • Frequency and nature of travel (both commuting and off site)
  • Energy use (heating and a/c, lighting, equipment)
  • Purchasing (local vendors vs. long distance shipping; eco-conscious vendors vs. conventional)
  • Waste materials (how it is disposed of and/or recycled)
  • Office equipment (Is it standalone or multi-functional? Is it certified as energy efficient?)
  • Printing practices (Paper stock content? Soy ink? Is hard-copy really necessary?)
  • Mailing practices (How much can be sent electronically instead?  Bike messengers vs. Overnight vs. Cabs/delivery drivers?)
  • Swag/Promos
  • Events
  • Packaging (Too big?  PVC content? Recycled materials content?)
  • Distribution Methods for product
Over a period of at least two weeks, take notes, take measurements, record your findings and extrapolate your data out to reflect a year of use and consumption.  Use this data when you’re ready to make a presentation to your team and your organization’s decision makers.

I don’t recommend going this alone, but it is do-able.  If you have a team, recruit them to handle several areas apiece. Remember: The more involvement you generate among others in this phase, the more likely their participation and buy-in when it comes time to implement changes.  If your colleagues in other disciplines are predisposed to working smarter, share these areas with them then get together regularly to compare and consolidate your findings.  Information is the currency of progress, and ownership is the key to buy-in.

In my next posting I’ll outline a few easy tips in measurement, as well as smart criteria to strengthen your business case for transitioning to sustainable policies and procedures.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Perils of Passionate PSA Production

It's a sad day when I find myself anywhere near the same position as Fox News on anything -- let alone marketing.  Yet, here I am, partially in agreement; and I have to say I really resent it.  (Glad it doesn't happen every day).

Here's the back story:  In the UK, several charities pooled their resources to produce a public service ad promoting their carbon emissions goals: Reduce emissions 10% by 2010.  The resulting piece is offensive and the charities have publicly disowned it.  There's really no room for disagreement on the offensive bit, unless the viewer is a masochistic, homicidal sociopath.  But, please, view it for yourself and don't take my word for it -- or anyone else's.

Here's the link, now go ahead and watch it -- I'll wait here.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSTLDel-G9k .  BTW, don't let your younger kids watch it over your shoulder.  Seriously.

Back? Having seen it, can't you just imagine someone in the planning meeting for this video saying how important it will be to create a PSA that "resonates with the public on a visceral level?"   And off they went ... 

On the bright side, it does provide us with a profoundly bad example of environmental cause marketing.  And it's not even greenwash -- it's just disturbing.

Which raises the question, how does this happen among people who are not masochistic, homicidal sociopaths?  You may not realize it, but something similar happens rather often in marketing.  

The "No Pressure" video you just saw is an extreme case of what can happen when a team with lofty goals becomes too isolated in their pursuit of impact.  At some point the collaborative process breaks down and the cohesive unit starts putting the notion of "Impact" ahead of the goal itself.  They cheer each other on to increasing levels of bad judgement and lose complete track of the message.  In the end, you get a memorable ad, video, or commercial where the message is overpowered by graphics, special effects and/or sensationalism.

Ever remember a televised commercial, but not the product it was pitching?  Same thing, only tamer.

When this applies to a cause people are passionate about, the stakes become higher, the team often becomes more insular (i.e., less collaborative with other stakeholders), and the desire to make an indelible impact on the market becomes more pronounced.

How can we avoid this happening to us?
1.  Involve at least two experts over the age of 40 in managing the project -- so you have someone who knows what to watch for when the creative process starts to take on a life of its own, plus a spare.  S/he will need back up.
2.  Avoid trying to be too cool, too smart, too avant garde -- speak to your audience in their language vs. your own.
3.  Do not settle for drinking your own bath water, as my mother would say; i.e., make sure your team is not too insular, a variety of points of view are part of the process, and a decision maker on the client side is part of that team.
4.  Build sanity checkpoints into the process.  At those points, run your progress by an outside party(ies), get their impressions/feedback, then incorporate it.
5.  Screen the final version for a well-constructed focus group, record their feedback, use it.
6.  Don't release anything publicly without your clients' approval.

That should keep you out of Fox News -- at least for your marketing efforts! ;-)

As always, just thinking out loud ... 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from | Video on TED.com

And now for something completely different ... (Monty Python's Flying Circus)

Jump-start your eureka moment with this entertaining and insightful presentation by Steven Johnson. It all comes down to what we used to call COLLABORATION (back in the old days ;-) And while you're at it, visit http://www.ted.com and look for Tales of Invention. Highly recommend it

Johnson cleverly slogans Collaboration into "Chance favors the connected mind."

Whatever you call it, it is simply smart innovation behavior -- something every Environmental Marketer needs to tap in to -- often.


Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from | Video on TED.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The political chemistry of oil spills: Lisa Margonelli on TED.com

High impact content presented dynamically. It will make you angry, [cynically] amused and better-informed -- all at once. There are many marketing lessons we can learn in this -- most of them associated with bad examples of social responsibility

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Next Big Thing . . .

. . . is finally the Right Thing.

Call it a by-product of growing up during the "Age of Aquarius," or just too many  years in The Business, but I'm really liking the fact that I can now apply the skill, knowledge, insight, hard knocks, and occasional bursts of E.S.P. I've developed to make a bona-fide Difference (with a capital D).  A positive Difference in the lives of People, the health of the Planet and the Prosperity of our society.

God, I love marketing -- or, to be accurate, Environmental Marketing.

Be honest. How many times have you looked into the eyes of an irrational executive, who has just announced he expects you to provide coverage on all the major networks -- plus Fox and CNN -- for the launch of some fabulous data parsing application, designed exclusively for the data management market?  What was going through your head -- immediately after stifling the urge to pour his Smart Water(tm) in his lap, that is?

At those moments, I consistently found myself growling something like, "In the name of Ogilvy & Mather and all that's holy, this isn't exactly the cure for cancer!  In fact, it isn't even much of a cure for bad data parsing -- whatever the hell that is."

Thanks to the viability of sustainable industries in our economy, I now find myself working with innovators who have turned their creativity, brilliance and passion toward solving the biggest problem we face as human beings:  literally saving the Earth.

And how wild is it, that a notion like SAVING THE PLANET doesn't sell itself?  Every step toward achieving that goal actually has be marketed!  It's good to needed.

But, why are we needed when the benefits of saving the planet are so obvious? This question provides the perfect segue to the wonders of Disruptive Innovation and Diamond's Law.

Disruptive Innovation:  Over a decade ago Clayton Christenson (Harvard Business School professor and co-founder of Innosight) wrote "The Innovator's Dilemma" and defined for the business world, the nature of disruptive innovations or technologies.  In short, disruptive innovation is the advent of a new way of doing something that changes the tried and true methods dramatically, thereby causing disruptions (and a little chaos) in businesses, industries and markets.  A commonly used example is the Internet's effect on USPS mail and communication of almost every kind.  Disruptive innovations drive transformation of industries and create markets.

Diamond's Law:  Perhaps this is an oversimplification, but after studying several catastrophic scenarios (the Anasazi, early Easter Island civilization, etc.), as well as several societies that averted ecological and economic catastrophe, Professor Jared Diamond of UCLA confirmed that to avoid societal collapse, economic, social  and ecological systems must all sustain, create and enable each others' success and survival.

(If you already see the relationship between Disruptive Innovation, Diamond's Law and the value of Marketing, we're on the same wavelength.  If not, no worries, more on this later).

In the meantime, I just read an interesting article that actually calls this the "Era of Diamond's Law."   Check it out at http://conscienceandcommerce.com/?p=71.  I'm not sure about the entire premise of the article -- in fact, I hope we're not circling the drain to that extent -- but I do see the upside in applying Diamond's Law sooner, rather than later.

And even a humble marketing maven, such as I, can play a role in that.  This blog is dedicated to helping you do the same.

Stay tuned and welcome to The Environmental Marketer.