Friday, April 24, 2009

"Happy Irthday!" Celebrating with Expos, Awards and Trees

I was a tree about a million years ago today... That is, it was my first "stage role" that I recall, in my kindergarten Arbor Day play. Maybe I got that part because of my last name. Or maybe it was what set me on the path to first be an actress, then be a green marketer.

But today is Arbor Day and I am reminded of my affinity for trees every year on this day...and almost every other day...since that early imprinting.

I've been entrenched in a lot of the Earth Day / Arbor Day celebrations and in fact I'm late in getting to the Expo at Grand Central today and tomorrow. I've come across people like Erik Baard who has been encouraging the planting of Newton Pippin apple trees all over NY. And Marielle Anzelone who within weeks of the birth of her new baby was back out there promoting her other baby, the annual NYC Wildflower Week (5/2 - 9).

And last night I went to the Heart of Green Awards, sponsored by The Daily Green and Hearst. It was pretty impressive. The small but very tasteful crowd included one of my first eco-heroes, author and excellent speaker, Andrew Winston. Happily, he told me he has a new book coming out soon! Others in the crowd included, Elizabeth Harrington of the increasingly cool Greenopia, the indominatable Bob Woodruff, Daniel Sieberg, etc.
You can see the list and profiles of recipients on the link, but some highlights included:

Alicia Silverstone was awarded the "Eco-Original" title. She's passionate about PETA and promoted one making any effort they can, even if it's to be an "aspiring" vegetarian. Reducing one 16 oz steak from your diet, for example, she says saves the equivalent water of 6 months of showers vs that watering the cattle! Plus, she says,
"I feel great, got better skin, a better body, and got my heart open as a gift from connecting to the earth."
Maria Menounos was appropriately transparent about her newness to the green cause, but now recycles all the time for the greater good, vs. when she grew up having to recycle cans for the greater good of her struggling family. Gloria Reuben, The Truth-Teller, welled up with pride about receiving the award for her work with, ironically, Waterkeeper.

But there was not a dry eye in the house when the award for best Local Hero went to teacher Greg Perry from Beachwood High School in Ohio who empowered his marketing class to stage the "Green Dream", the largest green products and services expo in Ohio to date, drawing more than 3,000 attendees. (I wonder how many attended the Go Green Expo? And this one was produced by teenagers!) Greg got news of his award while he was literally in intensive care as part of battling a recurrence of cancer.

He forced himself to fly in for the awards, and needed assistance getting onto the stage. He voice broke with exhaustion and emotion during his acceptance speech. And his message became the clarion call for the event: "It Starts with One." His students came up with that tagline for their effort, and Greg continues to embody that. He said,
"Young people force you to think differently. This is their world. They know they can change it and are not fearful."
Lifetime Achievement award winner, Frances Beinecke of NRDC, echoed that when she said,
"To be in this business you have to be an believe you can make a difference.....The planet is in tru crisis. That will only change if every citizen in world takes action in their daily lives to make a difference. ...Leaders won't change without the bubbling up of citizen interest."
We must put the messages out to galvanize those leaders, she said, and concluded with, "All of you are a force in making a difference and you inspire me."

I think that the more people that are exposed to people also honored like Dierdre Imus, Summer Rayne Oakes, Roger Doiron, and the others mentioned above, that the more we'll be inspired by how much extraordinary effort some people make. And perhaps we will be galvanized to take a few more steps ourselves.

We must.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's a small (green marketing) world after all

We are continuing to see an increase in consumer awareness of and demand for more things green. It's time that products marketing to conscious-consumers moved away from the expected "leafy green" approach and got a little more mainstream.

I just got back from the GoGreen Expo in NYC, and was pretty impressed by the number of booths and the variety of eco-oriented products. A lotta baby clothes and body lotions. Water filters and water bottles. Bags and antioxidants, etc. Hundreds of booths and new products.

But whether at the Expo or at the other events and sites I visit, I'm seeing a lot of unsophisticated design and underwhelming marketing in this space. I know how scary it can feel for a start up or small business to invest in good creative, but it doesn't have to be expensive. And there is everything to gain when trying to reach this now very eager audience.

Even the more established companies (relatively speaking) are using conspicuously similar styles...
Check out these three companies -- and I happen to be a big fan of each of them -- but look at their logos!: -- Leafy "V" - semi Leafy V - double leafy V

Granted, my logo for Moss Appeal Green
could be considered a close cousin of the leafy icon, but I come by my last name by birth! Plus it's a brand extension from my main Moss Appeal logo, which was designed to depict that our work has both "mass appeal" but speaks to the target on a 1:1 basis...AND echoes a type of moss plant, which you can see an image of on my home page. I'm not saying the logos for the above companies are not perfectly fine; I was just struck by the similarity of their well as the pervasive "beige colors and leaf pictures" at the whole expos.

There's one company doing it really well, and it's paying off: Green Apple Cleaners has a "clean" look, and impressive collateral to match. They're even savvy (and authentic) enough to be aligning themselves with the effort to make the Newton Pippin NY's "official apple." (But even they use a little plant cradled in two hands, with leaves that look like one of the logos above, as one of the images on their site.)

The time is now to start creating cool marketing that speaks to the mainstream more, because eco-sensitive products deserve to BE mainstream! We haven't had the opportunity for as big a change in consciousness as we're going through now in decades. Companies hoping to promote their "green appeal" as I like to call it, really owe it to themselves AND to us to get their good green word out there in the most stand-out way possible.

Call me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Networking with networks about networking

My blog has always reflected my cross-section of marketing and green work experiences with some personal passions thrown in. More and more those experiences have included social media as I ramp up both my presence and that of my clients in that space. A cross-section -- or lack of -- was never more apparent than at The Cable Show (see #CS09 at this year.

It's easy to feel "eco-centric," as I describe my environmental focus, and think that, say EVERYONE knows the meaning of the word "sustainability" these days. But it ain't necessarily so. And when you focus on media and spend time in the SOCIAL network space, it's easy to believe that PROGRAMMING networks would know their way around a Tweetdeck or a follower, too. But you know what they say about the word "ASSUME."

(Reminder - This is a key time to ramp up your knowledge and your efforts since it takes time to build a presence. Give us a call now about letting Sheryl and me (@mossappeal) help. And I must say my overview workshop on Social Media Marketing for Business has gotten rave reviews!)

So I was impressed when Moss Appeal alliance partner, "Marketing Maven" Sheryl Victor, wrote a post today that did a great job summing up our experience at the Cable Show, and probably that of many others who were not tied to a booth.
You should read her take on Broadband Nation for good first hand objective observations -- especially as a returning CS alumni after some years away. But her paragraph about Social Media awareness in the cable arena particular really has me jazzed, since we talked to a lot of folks there about tapping our expertise in the Social Media space:

"Social Media is very much in its embryonic stage in most of the Cable industry. Which actually, I was a little surprised at. From a B2B perspective, a colleague and myself were in a panel about 360 Degree marketing. Ann Cowan from CTAM was moderating the panel. When the panelists were asked if they were using Social Networks or Media, you could hear a pin drop…except from the folks at A&E. Mark Garner spoke to their program around the show Hammer, with MC Hammer. Hallmark spoke to how they were dipping their toe, and TV Guide wasn’t using Social Media at all. Then Ann asked if anyone in the audience was tweeting….and out of close to 200 people, only 2 hands went up. Mine and my colleague’s. It actually was incredibly surprising to me. This room was filled with Marketers listening to Marketers. It was just a testament to me how the space is still very much new and uncharted, but is ripe with opportunity!"Sheryl Victor under, Savvy Strategy - Business Development, Marketing and Social Media

Monday, April 6, 2009

Conscious Caretaking

My brother and his family recently had to say goodbye to their cat, Lilah. I was really impressed with the conscientious and caring approach they took:

Poor Lilah had had a sudden decline, had stopped eating and was facing an uncomfortable time. My niece spent her entire spring break from college by the cat's side as opposed to beachside. Betsy, my sister-in-law, solicited help and support by reaching out to her community of friends and family via an email asking if anyone had advice on putting a pet down. This was her way of sharing the news and asking for help in a way that did not disturb or make people uncomfortable -- but a way that also let them know she was facing a tough time in case they wanted to reach out. She was surprised by the outpouring of support and thoughts her fairly straightforward email elicited.

One person in Betsy's extended circle of friends turned out to be a vet who knew of another vet who made housecalls and would actually put the animal to sleep at home. They didn't even realize that in-home pet euthansia was possible, so thank the world of social networking again. Lilah hated going to the vet, or even in a carrier. My brother said he could just point a finger at the carrier and Lilah would bolt from the room. So, they were able to avoid adding to her misery by avoiding a ride to a clinic.

On her final day, the whole family spent time with their pet, taking portraits and created a kind of sanctuary on the back porch with a terry covered set up for Lilah. They all gathered around and had a comforting hand on her as she was put under.

The final loving touch? Lilah's ashes will be returned to them in a seed-embedded biodegrable box which will bloom with flowers in their backyard. Ashes to ashes. Or, as one site guides, "Be a Tree."