Here’s a great opportunity: The oceans are dying.
Seriously, the oceans are in horrible shape, and it’s your fault. You did it, Supply, Demand, Pollution and Overfishing. And if we don’t take ownership now, our brands, our children, and our collective appetite for seafood may never forgive us.
I’m not trying to bum you out, but the next time you feel the need to impress clients or co-workers with your sushi-ordering skills, you should at least know whether you’re eating sustainable fish. (Either way, you’ll have to kiss your Chilean Sea Bass goodbye.)
Perhaps you’re wondering, “What’s all this hippy, save-the-Earth stuff got to do with online and multi-channel marketing optimization?” Great question, and I’m glad you asked.
By now, you’re familiar with the environmental catch-all term “green marketing,” but what you may not realize is that “blue marketing” is a relatively untapped way to differentiate your brand while raising awareness for an urgent problem that affects everyone. Besides, it’s not easy being green, because, when everyone’s doing something “green,” it loses meaning fast. (Seth Godin has a great post on the coming backlash over green marketing.)
A quick anecdote to make my point: The other week, I saw two containers of soy milk — original flavor, same brand, same size — sitting next to each other in the fridge at my corner store. One of the containers had a green cap, the other didn’t. I picked up the container with the “green caps for green energy” promotion, turned it around, and saw that they were promising to donate 30 kilowatts of “green power” (solar power?) if I entered the number from under the cap into the database on their website. Pretty smart, right? Well, yeah, but when the first words I read are, “Can one little green cap change the world? Just maybe.” I have my doubts. Even if their campaign is a great idea, it’s lost amid the over-branding of “green.”
It’s sad, but as much as we care about the planet, Broca is tuning out.
World Ocean Day happened on June 8 and, if you’re like me, you didn’t think to commemorate it. Still, I have been paying attention. Did you know that if we don’t curb overfishing, pollution and global warming trends, there will be no more (edible) fish in the sea by 2048?
It’s true. Here’s how I found out:
The URL at the end caught my attention, so I went to Oceana.org/matingseason.
Oceana is the world’s leading ocean conservation group, and their website is full of blue ideas. You can become a WaveMaker, tell your grocer to buy sustainable fish, find out why you should say no to shark fin soup, and you can even download a pocket seafood guide so you always know if you’re ordering something sustainable and low-mercury.
Not concerned with saving the fish? How about saving the humans? As the climate of the ocean changes, so goes the rest of the world. Anyone who’s lived through the East Coast heat wave these past several days will find it easy to believe that 11 of the warmest years on record have happened in the past 13 years and ocean temperatures are rising.
Whether your eco-friendly marketing initiatives are focused on land or sea, here are a few ways to build trust, encourage word of mouth, and keep it financially sustainable (read: the other “green”):
1.) Be specific — What’s the exact dollar amount you’re trying to raise? What’s the exact percentage you’re donating, and to whom? Why are you donating to that cause and that specific non-profit?
2.) Campaigns are best — It’s so much easier to track and manage special promotions at the campaign level than it is to track it across the entire organization. By focusing on campaigns, you can see very closely how and why your customers and clients are responding to your environmental marketing efforts at each touch point across channels.
3.) Don’t guilt trip — Nothing is a bigger turn-off. People donate because they want to, not because you’ve nagged them to. Be careful not to come off as holier-than-thou about whatever cause you’re promoting. (I was at an event to raise money for drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa the other night, and the CEO of the company that was hosting the event was yelling into the microphone, acting as though attendees — who’d already donated $100 just to be there — were being cheap if they didn’t raise their hands to sponsor a $5,000 well, and literally shushing the crowd like they were in a grade school library. Whatever the online equivalent of that is, don’t do it.)
Ideally, giving to a great cause should be the icing on the cake that encourages fence-sitters to convert to happy customers. Whatever you do, don’t go the drift net route and merely advertise your brand’s inner green- or blue-ness as though it’s self-evident. Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed by drift nets while marketers like us roam free.
Hmm… If sharks had better marketing support, maybe we wouldn’t have an irrational fear of them.