Tag Archives: marketing

Marketing Sustainability Events

EarthSayers.tv recently published to our Ecotourism special collection a selection from the presentations given at ESTC 2010, the EcoTourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference held here in Portland, September 8-10.  Also published were interviews conducted at the conference by myself and filmmakers, Barry Heidt of SustainableTV and Erich Lyttle. Post production work was provided by Tom Hopkins of Sustainable Today TV.    The sponsor of this event, The International EcoTourism Society (TIES), like others we have covered in the past, including the Seattle Green Festival held in June, was financed out of our own pockets. Why?  Because most organizations sponsoring green events invest in “pre” conference marketing with the backend or post conference a dead zone with no budget. We think this is seriously inhibiting awareness and adoption of sustainability principles and practices which is the mission of EarthSayers.tv.

Viewing events, especially annual events, in a linear fashion in the age of Web marketing is inhibiting the growth of the sustainability audience and, ultimately, has a negative impact on attendance objectives for organizations sponsoring sustainability conferences and events.

Dead Zones

Dead Zones

The Web is a timeless environment and needs to be seeded with content frequently. Relevant and quality content remains king.  However, accelerating the growth of an audience does requires the marketing process be viewed and acted upon as a continuum. Peppering the Web with content from one event to build interest in the next one should be understood as a requirement.

No Pre or Post

No Pre or Post

We bring to the sponsors of sustainable and green events not only the ability to produce content at an event in a more personal way – interviews as opposed to the pre-web practice of video taping presentations from the back of the room. We now are able to demonstrate the efficacy of our work as we not only produce content but provide the network, EarthSayers.tv, for distribution which along with our channel on YouTube. This positions the conference organizers and presenters as part of the sustainability movement and seeds the Web increasing page rankings for all involved and making the people and information easier to find. As we all know, searching is one thing, finding is another.

Two Silos: Marketing and CSR

I wrote a version of this article yesterday on the CSR/Sustainable Development Network, but wanted to repeat myself.

In the July issue of The Economist a particular sentence jumped out at me as being relevant to my experiences in the world of sustainability as a marketer. The sentence read “part of the reason” economists failed to see the crisis coming “as partly due to the professional silos which limited both the tools available and the imagination of the practitioners.”

Marketing Silo
I don’t t think it’s just an issue with economists. As a marketer involved in creating Earthsayers.tv, the voices of sustainability, I was slow to recognize marcom as a silo, but it is, and it is limiting imagination and creativity, two capacities crucial to bringing about change or as Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation puts it, doing “the right stuff, quick enough.”

Here are several symptoms of the marketing silo and its effects.

Organizations continue to expend resources on mediums that marketing professionals feel comfortable with and are, in the end, unsustainable – events and print – while adoption of Web 2.0 tools is slow. How are marketing resources allocated today in your company? Do your executives rely on processed information, fearful of new technology and slow to embrace collaboration across the enterprise and with partners? Are any executives you know using video to blog like John T. Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems does? His observation: “Today’s world requires a different leadership style – more collaboration and teamwork, including using Web 2.0 technologies.”

Let them eat cakeA recent report by the WWF-UK entitled, Let Them Eat Cake, calls out the six myths that have further strengthened resistance from the marketing industry, an industry pivotal as “the marketing function is at the heart of the sustainability debate, because it is the interface between the forces of production and consumption.”

One debunked myth in the WWF-UK report suggests many marketers are just waiting for permission and an appropriate framework in which to engage with sustainability issues even if not familiar with the language of sustainability. One of the leaders of high tech in the U.S. was Admiral Grace Hopper who advised people new to the industry (I heard her speak in 1981) to not seek permission as much as learn how to apologize. Are you waiting for permission?

wpp reportEven Sir Martin Sorrell in the WPP’s Social Responsibility Report (2007/2008) advises his flock “to shape and encourage consumer demand for sustainable products and lifestyles; to restore the true value of durability; to reject the superfluous in products and packaging; to make much of what has passed for fashion deeply unfashionable…” Quote him in your apology.

CSR Silo
Yet if marketing is slow on the uptake, what of Corporate Social Responsibility professionals? Operating from another silo, limiting both the tools available and the imagination of the practitioners? I offer but one symptom and look to fellow network members to think about their own experiences.

At the eighth annual Corporate Philanthropy Summit hosted by the CECP this past June in New York City the bywords were collaboration, systemic change, advocacy and sustainability as reported online in “on Philanthropy.”

It’s good to see sustainability on the short list, BUT its strategic importance as the business and investment strategy is not understood as reflected in this meeting report.

Sustainability needs to be a strategy not a program. It needs to be the strategy that drives all programs, all investments. Advocacy focused on supporting the cause of sustainability nets big changes precisely because it brings a focus to collaborative efforts, all of us need to be on the same page at the strategic level and we are not.

Silo Demolition
One company involved in silo demolition and referenced in the report, Future tense: The global CMO by the Economist Intelligence Unit (sponsored by Google) is IBM. They seek to remove the barriers between its communication functions to include “marketing, media and public relations, corporate communications and, eventually, the company’s corporate citizenship function which is responsible for promoting IBM’s corporate values.”  Would you recommend this in your organization, and if not, why not?

The WWF-UK report includes a ten point plan for sustainable brands, two of which are particularly relevant to this discussion:

1. The Corporate Responsibility Function should act as a driver of innovation, using its combination of sustainability expertise and broad strategic view to tease out consumer insights.

2. Collaborate. Create multi-functional, multi-skilled teams that include personnel from all relevant functions, including marketing communications, investor relations, product design/development, brand strategy, financial planning and analysis, and corporate responsibility.

In closing, I quote a recent letter to the Editor of the New York Times by Aliza Wasserman. She points out another field of siloes, special interests, which should come under the sustainability banner. (We have created a taxonomy for sustainability as part of our earthsayers.tv project)

“The story that is waiting to be told is the one that unites these issues (health care, climate change and economic crisis) as symptoms of our decades’ long failure to create moderate, forward-thinking systems that are built on concepts of sustainability and prevention.” ALIZA R. WASSERMAN, Cambridge, Mass, July 30, 2009

The professional class, “siloed” and often issues focused, has a chance to bring about the right stuff, quick enough, if the keynote is advocacy and collaboration, and I would maintain, the key initiative is sustainability as both a business and lifestyle strategy. It can’t be business as usual.

The reports referenced here are on my whitepaper library.

Resistance from the Marketing Industry

Let them eat cake

If you wish you could reconcile your need to advance your marketing career with your need to make a personal contribution to a happier, healthier future, then the report, Let them Eat Cake, by the WWF-UK could provide the bridge you are looking for. I highly recommend reading this report.

Why call out marketing? The authors argue “the marketing function is at the heart of the sustainability debate, because it is the interface between the forces of production and consumption.”

I will be calling out sections of this report in future blogs, starting with the  six “myths” that have further strengthened resistance from the marketing industry. The report points out that a new perspective is required if recent advances in thinking are to become the new paradigm.

The report is available online by searching on the title, Let Them Eat Cake, or you may download it from my public library of reports. Either way, please give this report a read, and soon.