Uncategorized

To Grow Faster, Grow Together

We Have a Failure to Communicate

Environmentally and socially sustainable brands have compelling, even amazing, stories to tell. But how will those stories reach receptive ears? If buyers and sellers can’t connect easily, too many potential sales will remain just that – potential, not actual, sales.

And that’s the problem. Media and marketing channels specifically aimed at sustainably minded consumers are pretty scarce. Many companies rely heavily on social media – which is useful, but inadequate for the job of delivering substantial, measurable sales growth.

Traditional marketing strategy assumes that if you tell compelling brand stories and create a preference for your product, consumer “pull” and brand “push” efforts will drive sales. This model assumes a robust set of connections through which push and pull can work. But when these connections between brands and their intended customers are as underdeveloped as they are today – for sustainable brands – this approach won’t work very well.

Environmentally and socially #sustainable brands have compelling, even amazing, stories to tell. But how will those stories reach receptive ears? Click To Tweet

An Urgent Timetable Motivates Us

We can admire the pioneers that patiently built respected brands over many years, without the benefit of these media and marketing connections. For example, Patagonia built its own retail infrastructure over the course of five decades. Seventh Generation built a great retail brand over three decades. Whole Foods built a retail network, again, over almost four decades.

But we don’t have that kind of time anymore.

Newer sustainable brands can’t wait decades to reach that level of success. First, too many of them will fail. Entrepreneurs who have invested their time, passion, and money in building sustainable businesses deserve a better shot at success. Second, and most important, our world can’t wait for a sustainable economy. We need it yesterday.

We can't take decades to build an environmentally and socially #sustainable economy. We need it yesterday. Click To Tweet

We’ll Succeed Faster Together

Accelerating the development of the sustainable economy ecosystem, and the growth of sustainable brands, is a task that requires everyone involved in this new economy to work together: to share hard-won learning; to test new ideas and share the results; to collaborate so that we maximize our collective impact.

For example, Sustainable Business Partners has demonstrated the power of sharing non-competitive access to website visitors (see What’s Been Growing In Our Petri Dish). Using cookies that gather no personally identifiable information, the like-minded partners in our network are able to serve ads to one another’s website visitors. Essentially, our partners are remarketing to one another’s visitors, rather than to their own.

We’ve proven this model. These ads capture high response rates and a positive ROI. We’ve seen that people browsing a renewable energy website will buy organic tea and natural cosmetics, and vice versa, at a very efficient cost per acquisition. Now we are implementing this insight through other channels.

There are many ways for sustainable companies to cooperate: sharing online promotions, exchanging blog posts, even sharing postal mailings to carefully selected sustainable consumers. Likewise, we should all support the few channels that are dedicated to reaching sustainably minded consumers – for example, Green America’s Green Business Network or The Good Trade blog.

We are not competitors. We’re co-conspirators. The failure of a sustainable fashion brand in New York slows the progress of similar brands on the West Coast. A step forward by a natural cosmetics brand creates momentum that benefits other companies as well. We are all in the business of connecting consumers to our sustainable economy.

As you think about your company’s growth, look for opportunities to collaborate with like-minded companies. It’s been said that, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I have to disagree. We’ll all grow faster if we grow together.

We are not competitors. We’re co-conspirators. We're all in the business of connecting #consumers to our #sustainable #economy. Click To Tweet

– Chet Van Wert