Reposted with permission from BBOT Member and Pledge Member, Minto Roy, Co-founder of Sugar Sheet Paper & Managing Partner, Social Print Paper ltd.
More and more businesses today are marketing sustainable solutions hoping that consumers will switch from traditional, less eco-friendly products. At the same time, more and more employees within companies are trying to implement operational changes that will support the environment. Both movements are motivated by the rising interest and ideological confirmation from customers and business leaders that sustainability is very important and relevant to their core values.
Despite this ideological synergy many businesses today that sell sustainable solutions continue to be challenged to replace traditional, less eco-friendly products used for decades by consumers. Why does this still continue to be the case?
Sustainability and the environment are now consistent front-page news stories. Traditional media and and social media communities around the world share stories on why it is important that we work together and make changes that minimize our impact on the environment. The vast majority of people and businesses share the ideological belief that we must choose more wisely.
Here are 8 ideas that will help you get beyond ideological agreement and create the competitive urgency necessary to drive positive change.
You must first earn the right to help others solve problems. Presenting products or solutions without first earning the trust, confidence or leadership to help will only lead to frustration. Take sincere interest in your customers’ overall business, not just their commitment to sustainability. Develop hybrid language when discussing your sustainable product that showcases proficiency to speak about both the environmental benefits of your products and the measurable business benefits of your partnership.
Go beyond discussing the features and benefits of your sustainable product. Develop customized language that showcases your capacity to discuss the business benefits of your product. Relate how your partnership will specifically and measurably support key business functions. Develop fluency to reference case studies of how other clients have leveraged the application of your sustainable product to support; sales growth, marketing initiatives, brand awareness, compliance reporting, HR and competitive hiring practices that align with the growing reality that employees want to work for and build their careers with organizations committed to environmental stewardship.
Eliminate the cliche that sustainability requires a sacrifice. Remember; consumers don’t want just another sustainable product. They want a sustainable product that doesn’t require them to sacrifice product quality, product performance or cost them a significant premium.
Ensure your solution is easy to procure and implement. Consumers want sustainable products to be as accessible as their current products. Also, the switch to the more eco-friendly solution must not be disruptive to their current business or lifestyle.
Change is not easy so you must eliminate risk. Customers need to hear more than what you have say about your sustainable product. Your business must genuinely be involved and active in both, environmental and business communities. Your business must secure respected brand customers, business partners and / or validation from trusted environmental organizations or industry experts. This is vital to developing communication that incorporates trusted industry or community stakeholders into your product presentations or partnership discussions. Remember, it’s not what you say about your product but what others say about your product.
Market your product from the Top-Down not Bottom-Up. In my experience, as soon as business leaders or business owners recognize the competitive advantage of switching to a more eco-friendly product, they then drive the message down to procurement and champion the urgency to change.
Create new and innovative customer Q&A scripts. Are the majority of conversations with potential customers similar to what they will hear from other companies selling similar products? Create customer Q&A and use language that creates competitive urgency, not just interest. Interest creates ideological agreement, urgency positions the competitive opportunity or potential threat if action is not taken.
The competitive playing field is not fair. Keep in mind, if you are offering a new sustainable product, traditional companies who dominate the product category with industry consumer have a vested interest for no change to occur. They do not want to make it easier for customers to switch. These companies have significant resources, advocacy and influence to ensure their products are strategically featured, advertised and marketed to help consumers rationalize why there is no need to change.
“The development of new sustainable solutions has out-paced the communication ability of the innovator to communicate urgency. Most businesses continue to market themselves and compete by doing the wrong thing better or the same thing better”. – Minto Roy, Managing Partner Social Print Paper ltd.
There is no magic pill with the 8 concepts above. They will take hard work and practice to implement. These ideas and concepts are best practices and perhaps, a new way of thinking that has helped our company grow. I do hope they help your businesses market eco-friendly solutions so that you can help others integrate and leverage the value of sustainability.
By working together we can create a world where sustainable products and practices are a given and a world where we no longer have to sell what is obvious.
Co-founder of Sugar Sheet Paper & Managing Partner, Social Print Paper ltd.