Why try to be more sustainable?
Surveys show consumers care about the environment and climate change.
Sustainability is no longer just a “trend”. It’s a conscious decision that businesses are making to protect the future of the planet and positively impact their communities. Not only does transitioning into more sustainable practices help the world around you, but it can also save you money and contribute to the health and happiness of your team.
But how to go about it? If you're looking for ideas, try these suggestions to improve your business's sustainability – and remember, even minor changes can make a difference!
(Read more on sustainable marketing here.)
1) Purchase wisely
When purchasing products or services for the workplace, consider where it’s made and their carbon footprint.
Can you buy locally or from a sustainable vendor? The item or service may be cheaper from further away, but it’s helpful to look at the whole life cycle of the product rather than just the individual cost to you. For example, products like bottled water and Styrofoam cups are cheap to purchase but have a high long-term cost to the environment. If you're using these, try adding a filter to your tap water and encourage employees to fill up their reusable water bottles instead.
Avoid single-use plastics. Consider if the item can be reused. For example, switch to refillable ink cartridges that cut down on discarded toner units. Reusables can save money as well. *
If your company is looking for customer gifts or conference giveaways, consider items made of recycled material or something not likely to be thrown away.
2) Be strategic about travel
Would a video meeting work instead of traveling to meet face-to-face? If travel is necessary for your business, can you minimize it by routes or zones to save on gas? If you have company vehicles, consider a hybrid or electric model when it’s time to replace them. Where practical, encourage office employees to carpool and offer work-from-home options, or four-day weeks. Think about the costs of holding team gatherings or traveling to conferences; consider the tradeoffs with virtual options and other marketing tactics.
3) Reduce Waste
If your business still sends paper invoices, consider switching to digital. Buy paper with recycled content and encourage recycling of all paper. Another way to reduce paper waste is to remind your staff to print and photocopy on both sides of the paper. This can cut the amount of paper used in half.
Another idea is to provide color-coded recycle bins and station these by the printer or photocopier to encourage staff to dispose of their paper waste correctly.
Those working from home can save paper, too. And if paper recycling isn’t available, shredded paper can be added to a home compost bin.
4) Save energy
Energy-saving lightbulbs also help reduce your power bill. Encourage employees to turn off lights and computers when not in use, especially on weekends or holidays. You might even install automatic lights and use a programmable thermostat set adjusted for the season. Wonder what temperature is best for saving energy? Check out this guide.
And when you need new office appliances, look for energy-efficient ones with the ENERGY STAR ® logo or items that are EPEAT registered.
5) Add plants and trees
Office plants help remind people of the importance of the environment; they also can make people feel happier.
Peace lilies and spider plants are easy to grow and help cleanse the air.
If you own the building, consider planting additional trees outdoors. For those with home offices, a tree adds value to your landscaping and cuts down on mowing time. Or convert grassy areas into flower gardens for the butterfly highway.
6) Ship Responsibly
Order multiple items from the same place at once with no-rush shipping. You may save on shipping costs this way, but even if shipping is “free”, rushed packages mean more trucks clogging roads in cities—which contributes to increased traffic and pollution.
7) Support the community
Consider sponsoring non-profit or organizing group events to support your local community. Or you can offer time off or consider compensating employees for volunteering. Here is an example: https://cleanup.earthday.org/pages/find-a-cleanup
8) Engage your team
Offer a contest or “green” challenge for your employees to think of, or contribute to, additional ideas to support your sustainability goals.
9) Communicate your Efforts
Publicize your actions and achievements by posting them on your website and on social media. Consumers and sustainable companies want to do business with companies that share their values - and your endeavors might encourage others to do the same!
There are many ways to improve your environmental credentials in the workplace and your community that are worth trying. They may also result in happier staff and lower expenses. Plus, mother nature will thank you!
Do you have additional suggestions or stories of what your company does? Please add them in the comments.
For more information and inspiration:
The Carbon Almanac - ideas, data, perspectives, and resources to help us understand the realities of climate change and what we can do to fight it. https://thecarbonalmanac.org/
Examples of sustainable companies with 250+ ee
And a few more suggestions: https://www.elle.com/life-love/a28035727/easy-ways-to-be-sustainable/
* Did you know that Target gives consumers 5 cents for each reusable bag? Branded, reusable totes can also be a good option for swag.
What is Sustainable Marketing?
Sustainable marketing is marketing for products and services that respect the environment and are socially responsible. It aims to improve life quality by promoting products, services, and ideas that don't harm the environment while benefiting the community.
How could this help my business?
Trends show an increasing preference for sustainable brands:
• An overwhelming 91% of the public wishes to see brands ‘show by example’ and demonstrate the actions they are taking to support the planet.
• No less than 45% are willing to consider alternative brands and services to make this happen.
• 87% say climate change is their number one concern – ahead of Covid-19 (85%), the health of friends and family (79%) and the cost of living (76%) – fueling the active embrace of more sustainable lifestyles. (1)
• Sustainability can be a differentiator - it helps your business stand out from non-sustainable competitors
• It has been shown to attract loyal customers,
• And having a mission beyond making a profit helps to interest and retain employees
Sustainable Marketing in Action:
Patagonia founder Yves Chouinard brought his love of the outdoors, concern for the planet, and passion for sports together to form a company that supplies the world’s top climbers, fishermen, surfers, and outdoor enthusiasts with high-quality gear.
To be successful and profitable, the company built its mission on sustainable sourcing and supply chain innovation as well as valuing relationships with vendors, customers, and stakeholders.
Patagonia’s mission is so core to the company that they’ve used it to help build brand awareness:
Fullsteam Brewery (Durham, NC)
Fullsteam’s mission is to craft distinctly Southern beer that celebrates the farm and food traditions of the American South. Their sustainable actions include local sourcing, donating waste products to gardens, and sponsorships of community organizations.
How can your organization add sustainability to your marketing?
1) First, add sustainability to your mission (if it's not already)
2) Plan how to integrate this into your strategy, operations, and marketing
2) Develop new messaging that includes sustainability:
Consider - What is important for customers and the community to know about?
What helps them have a favorable opinion about your brand?
Can you clarify what differentiates you from the competition?
Is there a way to build an emotional connection?
Think about your tagline or slogan - does it still fit? If not, developing a new one is a good place to start.
This process applies to many types of businesses, even solopreneurs, so don't think your business is too small!
What if you'd like your business to be sustainable, but don't think it is now?
Read our next blog for ideas on how your business can become more sustainable. It might be easier than you think to make a positive impact!
2) More on sustainability as a strategy: https://www.entrepreneur.com/living/why-you-need-to-build-sustainability-into-your-business/435075
How not to be a Marketing Snake
When I was getting my MBA, I had a professor who called marketing professionals “snakes”. *
Marketing has been criticized for harming consumers with deceptive claims, practices, and high-pressure sales. Unsustainable marketing has often fueled the desire for materialism versus quality of life – creating demand for things consumers may not need or be able to afford.
Marketing also helped increase demand for disposable vs repairable, which can have negative environmental consequences.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, and not all marketing people are snakes. Or even lizards, for that matter.
Marketing, at heart, is finding needs and addressing them in the most cost-effective and profitable way. But companies are finding they can go one step further – to make sure their products, services and company actions do no harm, and whenever possible, benefit stakeholders as well as stockholders. They call it sustainability or the triple bottom line – and ethical marketing can help.
Is customer-oriented, in that it focuses on how products and services can make customers' lives easier or better.
Using VOC (voice of the customer) insights, the emphasis is on how the organization can add value to the products or services it offers.
It embraces innovative approaches in developing, communicating, and delivering the customer experience.
It builds on the organization’s mission.
And is Honest and Authentic – never exaggerates or overstates claims.
This is the first of a series of blogs on sustainability in business, our next one is on Sustainable Marketing.
We hope you’ll find them all worth reading!
*He was an organizational development professor
In our last blog, we covered the buyer-driven experience -- and how B2B buyers are willing to do more research before interacting with sales representatives. This makes building an effective buyer-driven experience key in reaching these buyers. In this blog, we'll cover tips on building an effective buying experience.
1) Create Initial Awareness and Interest
Think of this as an introduction to your business.
Buyers want communications that make them feel they spent their time wisely; that they’ve learned something relevant and new, so make the most of your introductory content. Focus on the value you bring and start building trust by being authentic and honest in your communications.
When working on awareness content, consider your target buyer’s perspective:
How/where will they find your content?
Does the content fit with the expectations created by the source it came from?
Is the content easy to access and consume?
Is the content in a format that the buyer prefers?
What did your content help them accomplish?
2) Nurture Leads
Getting attention is the first step, and it's a challenge to keep that attention.
Buyers need to gather information to decide to buy something new, especially if it is an innovation or departure from what they’ve bought before. They will want to know how your product or service solves their (or their organization’s) problem.
They’ll also want to know about the bumps they may encounter along the journey, so include information about constraints and complications that may come up and how to prepare for them. The more helpful and transparent you can be, the more trust you will earn.
And you need to give them this information at points when they are ready for it.
That’s where nurturing comes in.
Because buyers now prefer self-service engagement in the initial stages of research (only 21% engage with sales reps in the early buying stages), it’s critical to boost your ability to create self-service engagement.
Buyer-driven experiences must shift prospects from interest to consideration.
Keep in mind:
The challenges a buyer faces:
3) Enable the Purchase
One of the main reasons most buyers don’t engage with sales early in the process is that there are so many facets of the decision to address. (And sometimes they don't want a salesperson calling them when they are just looking!)
Now, if steps one and two go well, your buyer will have most of the information they need.
In this stage, try to make the purchase process as effortless as possible by eliminating any friction or barriers.
In a complex buying environment, customers may appreciate information that helps them simplify the purchase process, so consider if a checklist, buyers guide or well-designed webpage that walks the buyer through each step.
And don't forget to offer live assistance to those who want it! Buyer-driven doesn't mean automated, especially in the
Suppliers who can provide buyers with clear information will be rewarded. In fact, Gartner research shows that customers are three times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret when suppliers provide information perceived as helpful in advancing the purchase process. (2)
4) Experiment, Measure and Improve
Effective buyer-driven experiences will evolve as buyer’s needs and technology changes.
Taking Action to Build Effective Buyer-Driven Experiences
There are a lot of moving parts in a buyer-driven experience. Where do you start?
Take another look at the diagram above. Are there gaps in the experiences you’re providing today? Where in the continuum do they fall? Address those first and then add more.
Put yourself in their shoes and go through the experience you provide -- what would you change to increase its effectiveness? Does it feel “buyer-driven” or are you overtly pushing your sales agenda?
Taking this customer-centric approach will help shift your mindset and help you see what’s required to put the buyer first and help them want to do business with your organization.
Thanks for reading! If you need help with identifying your prospective customer's buying journey, or would like help in creating effective B2B content, please contact us.
Do you have additional thoughts on this? Please post them in the comments or contact us for more information.
In today's digital world, B2B Buyers are willing to do more research before interacting with sales representatives. In fact, according to Gartner customer research, 43% of B2B buyers even indicated they’d prefer a “rep-free” buying experience if they had the option. This percentage is estimated to grow because millennial buyers have an even higher preference for self-reliance during the buying process.
How do you take advantage of this shift?
To better reach the buyers who prefer self-reliance/digital research over in-person sales interactions for most of their buying process, your organization can create new buyer-driven experiences (BDX) that inspire and advance purchase decisions.
What defines a buyer-driven experience (BDX)?
Buyer-driven experience is a series of consistent touchpoints that focus on buyer enablement – making it simpler, faster and easier to:
Think about this journey from your customer’s perspective – what is their environment, what choices do they have, and what do they need to simplify their decision? Ensure that each interaction has the necessary elements to give buyers what they need to solve their problem or achieve their objective by using your product or service.
But don't forget the personal touch. It's good to remember when moving toward self-reliance during the buying process, there still may be touchpoints that are best served with a live person. Make sure that there is an effortless way for the prospective customer to get in touch with someone who can help them.
Thanks for reading!
For tips on how to develop your buyer experience, check out our next blog, The Four Steps to Build Effective Buyer-Driven Experiences, where we'll offer more tips on developing your buyer-driven experience.
 Lessons from Customers: What Marketers Need to Know to Make Digital Experiences Pay Off, Gartner for Marketing Leaders, 2021
With so much going on in social media it can be hard to get noticed and engage your followers.
And positively engaged followers can amplify your social media presence and with it, awareness and interest.
Take a look at your organization’s engagement numbers – are you getting likes, comments, and/or shares?
If your engagement results aren’t meeting expectations, think about what would fit best with your brand and appeal to your desired target audience, then try some of the suggestions below:
“Five to ten” ways and “best of” lists appeal to the curious. Make it attractive and use headings so to make it easy for the reader to scan.
Collaborate with other content creators
Video interviews or discussion, or team up on a piece of content. This may be a good time to try going live.
Offer contests or games
These are opportunities for followers to post their own content (tagged with your hashtag) or share your content and possibly get a prize or other reward. This also works great layered with an event, as in this example.
Showcase your team, customers, or partners in action. For example, show your team’s community service project, take followers backstage at one of your events, or comment on a local happening.
Plan your engagement initiatives, experiment, and evaluate your results. Each target audience is different, and you may find some approaches work better than others. But don’t give up, social media has been described as more of a marathon than a sprint, or if you’re not into running, think cultivating a garden rather than cutting a bouquet of cut flowers. ;)
A survey done by Search Engine Journal found that the majority of small businesses* do not have a marketing plan developed.
Why is this? It may be because it’s difficult to set aside time for planning, or perhaps the business owners don’t know where to begin.
But the investment in planning will pay off. So, if you're one of those business owners that is considering developing a market plan that will enable you to reach your longer term objectives - or maybe have one but it is a couple of years old - here are five reasons why many consider market planning as one of the key ingredients for success.
5 reasons why you should develop a marketing plan:
1. It helps you think through your goals and values so you can align your marketing efforts.
You then can formulate marketing objectives and initiatives that help your organization achieve its mission.
For example -- your goal may be to become the leader in your area of expertise, increase profitability, or have a well-compensated and loyal employee base. Or perhaps you want to be able to give support to your local community or plan to sell your business in a few years. Whatever your objectives are, the planning process will help you see if your goals are feasible and serve as a structure for actions to move towards attaining them.
2. It helps you understand your customers and competitive situation.
Marketing plans usually include an industry overview, target market demographics, marketing objectives, and specific tactics that will be used.
3. It helps you focus.
There are many marketing tools and opportunities; it’s easy to become distracted and lose sight of your intended business goals. Having a plan acts as a compass - it will help you see where you want to go and assure you that you are heading in a direction aligned with your goals and core values.
For example -- you may have some great new ideas for your business that you’ve been wanting to try. If they are included in the planning process, you’ll be able to consider how they fit in, and the ideas won’t be forgotten or be thrown in as an afterthought.
4. It helps you establish tasks, timelines, and milestones.
A good marketing plan includes clearly defined objectives and tactics; outlining these makes it easier to identify the tasks that need to be done, who should do them, and when they need to be done. This will help you get the most out of promotions and seasonal or local events.
5. It will help make the most of your resources.
Once you know what you need to do, you can develop a budget and prioritize spending. You may also identify areas in which you’ll require financial assistance, or better yet, eliminate those activities that are costing you time and money but are not effectively driving your business towards your vision. Having a well thought out marketing plan shows you mean businesses.
Set aside some time to create a sound marketing plan for your business – you’ll be glad you did!
If you are having a hard time getting started or just need someone to help solidify your planning, Contact us for a market planning template.
* businesses with fewer than 50 employees
This blog continues our exploration of how to maximize the effectiveness of your webinar.
For more webinar tips, check out our previous blog.
You’ve probably heard the words recycle, reuse applied to packaging and other items -- and they apply to marketing content, as well!
A webinar’s life doesn’t have to end when the last participant logs off. It’s common to send a recording to everyone who registered, so even if they didn’t attend the live broadcast, they can view the content.
But wait -- there is more you can do to get a better return on the effort you've put into the webinar!
1. Post the webinar recording on your website
You can add the recording to your website as new content.
There are several ways to approach this.
* You can use a dedicated page for webinars, so visitors can easily find your webinar archive from the search bar. This can be a collection of videos embedded on a single page or even a branded channel.
* Or you could host individual webinars on blog pages and add a summary to your video presentation.
2. Create a blog post or two around webinar topics
If you have a blog, this is a good place to reuse your information. Especially if you have details that might be hard to remember, like step-by-step instructions or useful links. If your webinar includes an expert from outside of your organization, you can ask them if they would guest post. If they agree, you’ll not only have their expertise, but it will also help increase your site’s reach if they share the post with their network.
3. Use the Q&A and poll questions
Capture and examine the questions asked by participants during the webinar. They are an indicator of where your audience may want additional information. If you have a number of questions, you can organize and use them for follow-up blogs or emails. In addition, your target audience might be interested in the results from polls taken at the webinar. Poll results makes handy “bite-sized” content that can be shared on social media, blog posts, or as a callout in an eBook.
4. Create an eBook or report
Some topics are complicated or have associated information that can be made into an in-depth report or eBook. The eBook could follow the presentation outline or explore a specific area in more depth. If you plan ahead, you can offer it in your webinar follow-up communications. If the information in the report is unique and valuable to your target market, you can also try using it as gated content for lead generation.
5. Create branded graphics
Any new or convincing data, insights, or quotes covered by your webinar should have easy-to-understand visuals. Make the slide content into graphics using colorful images that are compatible with your brand. Individuals like sharing graphics with compelling data or strong quotes, and these bits of content are great for catching your audience’s attention while they’re scrolling on their feed. You can even add a hook, like “What do less than 50% of small businesses have?”
6. Cut your content into short clips
Identify informative, entertaining moments from your webinar and turn them into short video clips.
How short? This depends on the content and the audience, but remember attention spans are shrinking, and individuals want content that delivers the message quickly. In a recent Facebook test, the 6-second video emerged as an ideal ad length.
You can use the clips in follow-up emails to encourage no-shows to view the recording, or on social media with a link to the full recording.
7. Repurpose the content for your next conference or presentation
Review the feedback from the webinar – if it was well-received, and the topic/format works, you may want to use it for a future event. If you received any suggestions, adjust/update the slides to optimize the presentation.
Planning ahead can help you make the best of your webinar content. So when you are preparing for your next webinar, think about reusing and recycling!
*What do less than 50% of small businesses have? Answer: A marketing plan -- we'll cover that in our next blog.
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7 Tips for a Successful Webinar
Webinars have been around for many years and the pandemic amplified their importance as a marketing tool. Zoom and other webinar applications have made it easier to host -- and increased the number and variety available. They are everywhere!
While this is great news for continual learners, it makes it even more critical to communicate and deliver value to the participants. While a thoughtful and educational webinar can add to an organization's reputation, a poorly planned one may not attract a large enough audience to get an ROI. And a thinly veiled sales pitch advertised as a webinar can even hurt your brand.
If you are new to webinars, or feel you're not getting the results you expected, check out these tips.
Before you begin, evaluate if a webinar is the best tactic.
Think about your objective: is it long term, like thought leadership/brand building or shorter term, like lead generation? Is this the best way to reach it? Would an alternative tactic, such as a whitepaper or video accomplish the same goal?
Then, consider your target market:
If you have found a topic that aligns with your objective and target market, list the “takeaways” – what the participants will gain from attending -- you can add this to your invitations.
Then, while you are composing your slides, check out these 7 tips for successfully delivering your webinar.
Tips for successful delivery:
1) Keep your slides simple and interesting
3) Keep introductions brief and hold any overt sales pitches until the closing remarks.
4) Speak clearly -- use terms your audience can understand, and when necessary, define technical jargon
5) Bring the participants into the conversation
6) Keep a handle on the logistical details
7) Plan to follow up
After the webinar, use the audience feedback to make your next webinar even better.
Throughout the process, remember that you are trying to create value for the attendees so they will have a positive perception of your organization.
Watch for our next post on ways to repurpose your webinar content, or better yet, subscribe to our e-newsletter!