I had an inspiring call with a prospective "green" client today. A couple of reminders and came out of it.
First: In the green scheme, no one (or business) is perfect.
What is perfect is being on the path to making a difference.
I remember when I attended a green marketing seminar last year, speakers from a really worthy company called ICESTONE apologized to the audience for not have a ZERO carbon footprint. Maybe they were, like, a "one" -- or a "two." This company recycles glass into a more eco-friendly countertop material that is BEAUTIFUL. They hire and manufacture locally, encourage employees to bike to work, they are Cradle to Cradle certified ...and on and on. They are doing almost everything right, and what isn't perfect they are aiming to improve.
But they were apologetic. And that was when I realized our potential as a society for throwing stones at glass espousers. C'mon! If only we were all as close to a zero footprint as them! So, I think, if you're not on the path, get on it. If you're on it, take another step, or hopefully three!
Second: There's more to doing right as a company than being green(er).
My prospective client has gotten on the green path; eliminating plastic from the cafeteria, changing their lightbulbs, using post-consumer waste paper...the boss drives a Prius, etc. They've even started an employee green committee to start evangelizing more eco-conscious behavior. They are on the way, and looking to Moss Appeal Green to help them head further down the green brick road. GREAT!
So, in researching some of their stakeholders I discovered that their corporate parent has put extensive support behind supporting economically disadvantaged children and community programs. That's really their calling card. Not a lot of bucks behind environmental causes. But that's okay. (See above.)
Just as PR is one area of marketing, green is one area of social responsibility. And customers are looking to companies to demonstrate corporate social responsibility overall.
This reminded me of something I did some years back in a promotion created for IKEA. It was a cause-related promotion with a green element:
We tied a consumer promotion in to the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. The theme was Improve Your World. We'd help “improve the world” through donations and matching contributions to the national program. We'd help improve the consumer's local world by awarding a dining room set to a winner from each store location and make a contribution in their name to an area food shelter. Finally, we did it all around Earth Day, and held in-store events that taught kids to “Plant an extra row” to help fight hunger.
So, my prospective client can start to impact change in their own back yard by first creating programs that are consistent with its owner's goal of giving back to the community, even if they are only tinted with green...Maybe a coat drive, to recycle for the benefit of area kids, for example.
The point is, any socially responsible program contributes to the greater good, and if honoring the "brand" of the corporate parents will help them get buy-in from the top down for more support, it will lead to respect from the very ground on up.