Posts Tagged ‘green’

Social media has clearly made its way into mainstream marketing strategies for a wide range of companies, nonprofit organizations, personal brands, and everything in between (if you missed that, check out our Social Media 101 resources). What does that mean for business-to-business (B2B) companies selling green products? While social media plays a different role in mass consumer brands, this doesn’t mean you should count social media out! If your audience is online, chances are there is a role for social media channels to play in enhancing your marketing and sales process!

Take for example Kinaxis, a tech company specializing in supply-chain management, that has seen how social media can help B2B companies reach their goals. In this interview with the director of corporate marketing, Kirsten Watson discussed three main strategies that lend themselves to Kinaxis’s success in social media.

1) Connect with very targeted niches

As a business that’s not consumer oriented, it’s even more important for you to be really specific about the social niches that you want to build a presence in. As green products tend to fit very specific uses, such as materials within a green building project, you are likely selling to really specific customers in very targeted markets. Our advice: Maintain that laser focus and identify the specific communities that you want to connect with. Kinexis narrowed down their target audiences by the company’s industry classification (NAIC). Regardless of how specific, be sure to use criteria that works for you to define a market and make the social networking more manageable.

2) Choose the right channel for your tone, message, target audience, and goals.

After identifying the specific niches you are targeting, think about the goals that you have for connecting with each of those communities and the messages and tone that will best resonate. What channels are the best fit for what you are trying to accomplish and where your audience is listening? Sometimes it’s best to leverage more established channels like email or your website, while other times you need niche blogs, social media, or even mobile tools. How will you use each channel to achieve your goals? Kinaxis uses their email campaigns (which go out to the largest cross-section of customers) to let their community know about the range of content in their other communication channels. By planning which channels your message will go out to, you increase your chances of getting the attention of your prospects.

3) Integrate social media with marketing automation tools

Some companies post content on Facebook and Twitter and cross their fingers, hoping something will come of it. Kinexis got more proactive about their social ROI by integrating their social media with Salesforce in order to gain deeper insights about their leads. By keeping track of the quality of interaction between potential customers and your various vehicles of communication, you can easily identify who are the best prospects, get more insight into what would get their attention and engage them in the content your company is producing. Social media is useful, but paired with a strong CRM system like Salesforce, it can become a great tool for nurturing leads and closing sales.

While social media may be more common (especially in the news!) among consumer businesses, it needs to form a part of the marketing strategy for B2B companies as well. For green companies, it can be a key way of educating and engaging prospects. Just remember to limit your target audience so it doesn’t get unmanageable! If you are ready to take a deeper dive, consider using our Social Media Planning workbook or contact us to find out how to boost your business through more effective online marketing.

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Clean energy has some exciting prospects for the world. Not only would it offer a chance to replace our energy sources in a way that’s better for the environment, it also has the potential to boost local economies in new ways. Clean Edge produced an exciting report “Clean Edge Job Trends 2010”, which reveals five trends that will be important to the sector’s growth.

1- Check for an up-tick in Clean Technology South of the Border
Cutting costs is crucial for clean tech companies at this stage of the game. While your first impression of how to minimize costs may sound like manufacturing in China or India, you’ll find that you may not have to look that far. Mexico is emerging as a sweet spot by offering cheaper labor in a place close to the US market and leading clean tech companies are taking note. Japanese- based Sanyo has settled in Moneterrey and leading companies like BP solar and Liebherr have followed their lead. Watch for more of this activity in Mexico as demand for clean tech continues to grow.

2- FITs push clean tech past fits and starts
FIT has nothing to do with fashion in this case; it stands for Feed In Tarrifs. Feed in Tarrifs are policy mechanisms that offer stable payment to generators of renewable electricity through long-term purchase agreements. FITs are an increasingly important way of encouraging the growth of clean tech especially in its early stages. They were instrumental in propeling Germany to the front of the pack in PV production and can help any number of clean tech industries flourish.

3- A Cleaner Auto Industry
Clean Energy has some specific implications right here in the United States. It will likely emerge in a re-vamped car industry. The Obama Administration has injected money to support alternative manufacturing in the automobile industry. A $465 million loan was made to electric-car maker Tesla Motors and another $528.7 million loan was awarded to Fisker Automotive. With ambitions of becoming a major player in the auto-battery market, we’ll likely be seeing more support of clean energy cars by the government.

4- Focus on Energy Efficiency
CleanTech companies are naturally interested in reinventing what our energy sources are. However, there is an increased focus  to actively incorporate methods of reducing our current energy use. Energy companies like Solar City are investing in energy audit technology and offering their customer base ways of reducing their daily energy use. Not only does this amplify their  customers’ savings it’s also the most cost effective way of creating jobs. We can expect to see an increase in the number of clean tech companies offering ways of maximizing energy efficiency.

5- The Offshore Wind Industry
Wind energy is picking up speed as signs of interest emerge in new markets all over the world. Europe, which has traditionally held the lead in offshore wind production increased its capacity for wind power by 72% in 2009. There are also new investments by countries like China who installed their own wind project in 2009 and the US which has given permission to start Cape Wind project in Massachusetts. This will hopefully be an increasingly prominent alternative to our current energy sources.

These trends may seem very different from one another, but they all signal that there’s a real market for green building materials and that various parties are investing in change. Will your green company be ready for it?

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IfPeople made it to the SJF Summit on the New Economy in Durham, NC this September and found it

to be a truly inspiring conference. It was a strong showcase of how diverse and robust the new economy is. There were really incredible solutions in every area of clean tech from energy and waste water treatment, to irrigation and air filtration.  Counter to many misconceptions about green solutions, these businesses were showing the energy and water savings from these solutions is so great that the payback is often less than a year! 

Stop Leaving Money on the Table!
Companies that are using traditional means of addressing this issues are literally leaving money on the table. If installing a green air filtration system costs you a $100,000 investment up front, with a 1 year payback, your future savings after that first year are $100,000 a year before calculating in inevitable rises in energy costs.

So why aren’t these solutions already the norm?
Systems change is always on our mind…and our work is about giving companies that are bringing breakthrough solutions with a solid business model the sales and marketing tools and processes to succeed. So we hate to see good opportunities for going green go to waste! Here’s some of the barriers we see to that:

1. Resistance to change
We are resistant to change even when the dollars and cents add up. Take, for instance, a new approach to maintaining good air quality. Air quality in most factories is maintained by constantly turning over the air inside a building. Forcing air from inside a building to outside requires a tremendous amount of  energy. Not only that, but the air brought into the building must be climate controlled which also uses up energy.  A company we met at the conference has a different approach. Instead of moving air in and out of the building, they focus on changing existing air into something breathable and environmentally friendly.  They attract indoor pollutants into a bio-digester, which breaks down the compounds into inert particles.  It’s a completely different approach that doesn’t just require a cost-benefit analysis, but calls for a paradigm shift. 

People are resistant to such shifts. If we are going to meet the challenges of climate change, peak oil and water and other challenges, we will need to be ready to embrace the new paradigms required to make these shifts a reality.

2.  Poor sales process
Even if there’s a great opportunity to save money with a product, if the sales force behind that product is not effective in selling, there won’t be product uptake. People make decisions for different reasons depending on their role in the company, their interests, and their priorities. It’s important to understand what is relevant to the various parties in a sales pipeline and to make sure your company can systematically engage decision makers until they make the sale. Having strong systems for automating your marketing processes can make a huge difference in how many prospects you convert to customers. Without these processes it is even more challenging for innovative companies to bring their constituents along and help the masses embrace the changes you are bringing to market.

3.  Poor Key Messages
Different decision makers have different concerns that must be met before they invest.  The person concerned with compliance wants to know that your air purification system is going to work, and meet all regulations and standards.  The CFO wants to know that your ROI numbers are real and reliable.  And the maintenance staff who took care of the old system wants to be secure that they are not being put out of a job. Make sure that the messaging is right at the right time based on where you are in the sales process and who you are working with!

Alright green product and service companies…we hope that’s helpful insight from our takeaways from the SJF Conference. Hopefully we’ll see you there next year! And in the meantime, contact us for help on marketing and sales for your green products!

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Small businesses must manage a number of costs in order to keep their operations running smoothly, many of which are linked to energy.  With energy sometimes eating up to 20% of a business’s revenue, being energy efficient isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your finances as well. Now, small businesses in Gerogia can maximize both energy and financial efficiency through the Georgia Green Loans Save and Sustain program.

Save and Sustain is a new program that helps small businesses embrace sustainable practices by “greenovating” their offices. It’s geared towards businesses with under 500 employees and is one of several energy renewal initiatives that funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. It offers up to 75% discounts on commercial energy assessments as well as calculations on the return on investment and cost savings from the outfitting. It also provides low interest loans for making business equipment more energy efficient.

Save and Sustain isn’t just about helping out a few small companies -it’s a program that empowers companies to embrace new opportunities for a more sustainable Georgia. Taking part will not only help your company, but will help the business community at large be more conscious of their responsibility to people and planet. If your business is interested in the Save and Sustain program you can contact VP of Programs, Matthew Ryder at ryder@georgiagreenloans.org.

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greenbuildOn August 25th, Tirza and Kim headed to Birmingham, Alabama for the Green Building Focus Conference for an exciting day of meeting some of the South East’s premier green building companies. There was a diverse selection of vendors who attended the conference this year. There was everyone, from business owners who made Green Builders Pencils from a graphite composite material, to sales representatives for counter tops made from recycled glass. It really illustrated how many different companies were in the green building sector.

There were also a number of interesting speakers who presented throughout the day. Chris Brogan, author of New York Times Bestseller Trust Agents, spoke to attendees about how Social Media could be used to really influence their constituents and empower their companies. There were many who left with a better grasp on how these tools could be maximized to  be more competitive in the workplace.

It is exciting to see how much momentum has built around the green building materials industry in the South East. It was encouraging to hear how many of these sustainable companies have matured and how many of them are experiencing growth tpdau. The Green Building Focus Conference is only in it’s second year and is already showing promising signs of progress. We look forward to seeing how much it evolves in the future conferences to come!

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The largest green/eco trade show in the South is happening this weekend in Atlanta. We hope you’ll join us!

Today (Friday): B2B expo: If you are an executive/leader/purchases for an organization or company, come to GoGreenExpo for free! Enjoy the smaller crowds and the intimacy with vendors so you can find new partners who do business with the Earth in mind.

This weekend (Sat-Sun): consumer expo! Friends of ifPeople get in half price (you must pre-purchase your tickets)

Come enjoy samples, a rock wall, great speakers and more all weekend! Takes place at the Cobb Galleria. ifPeople has a booth over by the Honda hybrid car test drives!

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The nonprofit action heroes at DemocracyInAction.org are giving away a year’s worth of their supporter management and e-advocacy product to 5 environmental organizations as part of their Green Grant program! Apply by May 22, 2009 to enter.

As a Green Grant recipient, you’ll get full access to the Salsa platform and community to help you start organizing, fundraising, and engaging people to make a difference either nationally or in their own communities. You get integrated tools to:

* Send out email communications
* Create online actions and petitions to elected officials
* Receive donations online
* Organize events (free or paid)
* Manage your supporters

Awards will be announced on June 1st.

Apply for a Green Grant here

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The explosion of “green” programs, organizations and events in the Atlanta area over the last 5 years is impressive. When we first relocated ifPeople to Atlanta, there was almost nothing on the green scene. Now, it is a dizzying array of activity. As I’m trying to get a handle on my own plans for the week, I decided a post to shed light on some of the activities and give others a chance to share activities they are organizing, attending, or recommending.

Corporate Sustainability: You can’t ignore it any longer!

April 22, 2009, 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM
Location: The Retreat of Dunwoody at Villa Christina
This sounds like an interesting way to start the morning. The talk is being put on by Atlanta Woman magazine. Check out more details here.

Earth Day 2009 Party in the Sky

7:00PM, Wed, Apr 22, 2009
Nelson Mullins (Atlantic Station), 201 17th Street, Ste. 1700, Atlanta, GA

This looks like a particular highlight for the day – green roof party venue. This is the annual Earth Day gala of Earth Share of Georgia. More info.

Other events

Those are the ones I am planning to go to at this point. Here’s some others you might want to know about:

I’m sure there are more, but I was having trouble finding ones that (a) hadn’t already happened and (b) looked good. If you know of some quality events, please comment! I’ll incorporate as many as I have time to to the post.

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