How to convince your customers that choosing what's better for the planet is better for your event.
Green washing is gone. It’s no longer accepted when companies say they are sustainable. In reality, they are faking being green. Customers react instantly when they come across this. We applaud when that happens. That’s what is keeping the world sharp.
Most of us are doing our part when it comes to sustainability. Or at least, we are trying. In our private and business lives, we’re doing our best to think about tomorrow. Minor footprints, CO2 reductions and social programs are brightening the world. Companies have a vision about CSR, and sustainability is a growing part in their strategy and values.
In our mind, we are truly doing our best. In our mind—not often in the way we act. It’s a fact that we are not always choosing the sustainable option. For companies and individuals, when it comes to the final decision or signing a contract, price, status or habit often wins from sustainability.
Looking at the meeting and event industry, I wonder why company organizers, with wonderful CSR programs, sometimes don’t push harder for making their events sustainable. What surprises me, as well, is why conference venues, hotels or other event suppliers don’t help their clients buy sustainable.
What’s the role of marketing in all of this? If your company chooses to do business in a sustainable way, marketing is not only about maximizing revenues, it’s also about minimizing your negative impact on the world and maximizing your positive impact. In other words, making money, leaving small footprints (i.e., reducing stuff) and giving powerful handshakes (i.e., adding long-term value).
This is not the sole responsibility of the CSR department, CSR manager or colleague with the greenest heart. Through marketing, a company can convince customers to turn their sustainable beliefs into action. We should help our customers to choose sustainable products and services. Make it easy for them to act sustainable, instead of just thinking about it.
A few tips on how marketing can encourage for sustainability:
- Find out what your customer’s CSR policy is about. Translate the themes that are important to them to concrete event options.
- Offer further ideas to make the event more sustainable. Focus on the gain for the organizer, exhibitor and visitor. Make it a positive choice, rather than pointing a finger.
- Communicate about your sustainable options. Give them a priority place on your website and in your sales materials. Sell them well!
- Grow your sustainable products and services. Make them the majority or even the only choice. Look at your whole chain to do this, and ask your own suppliers for ideas and support.
- Analyze your pricing strategy and look at ways to make your sustainable options similarly priced (or cheaper) than your other options.
- Tell your stories—about your customers, employees, suppliers, the community around you and yourself. Be proud of your back of the house.
- Walk your own talk. Set a good example: Organize your client or employee events in a sustainable way.
Sometimes I come across people who believe their customers don’t want sustainable options, as they don’t buy them. I believe people and companies do want to be more sustainable, but sometimes just don’t know how to translate it to their meetings and events. I also believe that if we make sustainability more accessible and the best option, people feel better about their choice in the end. It’s an extra added value for them, as this aligns with their own beliefs.
If sustainability is part of your company’s strategy, your marketing actions should show it. If not, then it’s almost like green washing—which we are not doing anymore. One+
One+ September 2012,