A Darker Shade of Green…

Dan Blake

Similar to most other like-minded people, I was proud of my green credentials. I mean, I recycle most of my household waste, try to keep my heating bill down (albeit for financial reasons over the climate) and I support and admire the groundswell of opinion activists such as Greta Thunberg has generated around climate awareness. But it turns out I’m not as green as I could, or should, be.

As TBT Marketing have been researching the GreenTech sector, in line with our future-focused sustainability ethos, I thought I was well positioned to focus my time and effort here, whilst allowing me to improve my green credentials at the same time.

Having planned, built, and executed a wide range of marketing and sales campaigns on behalf of many leading tech brands at the forefront of technology and change for over 15 years, there was an obvious opportunity to transfer our expertise to help innovative and environmentally conscious organisations in the GreenTech sector raise awareness and grow their business.

However, not wanting to just offer our marketing services to GreenTech companies without a deep understanding of the sector, I set about researching the challenges society and businesses face, the governmental regulations and support that advance (or hinder) progress and changing consumer and business consumption habits. I also wanted to understand where sustainability sits as a priority within any buying decision process.

Where are all the tree huggers?

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, with the likes of Swampy and the Newbury Bypass demonstrations in the news, my preconceptions of the traditional environmental movement were a little dated I’ll admit! Having prepared myself for meeting a band of eco-warriors (or “uncooperative crusties” as PM Boris Johnson refers to them as), it turns out that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My first step was to sign up to various communities and networks for sustainability. As luck would have it, Bristol and the South West is a leading region for sustainability, with many great groups such as the Future Economy Network, who offer an events and communications service, delivering sustainability-related events and networking opportunities. “Great” I thought, this is going to be easy!

Several events on, it has become clear to me that there is a fantastic opportunity to help GreenTech organisations raise awareness and grow their businesses whilst taking share from non-green alternatives. It’s also clear that the size of the problem and challenge we face as consumers, businesses, and individuals, is far greater than I’d imagined.

At the Sustainable Business Festival I met with many exhibitors covering: banking, solar energy, waste management, signage, cloud IT providers, to name but a few. Serious businesses offering amazing solutions, not all aimed at saving the planet, but replacing day to day products and services in a less environmentally harmful way. Ok, so the free street food on offer may have got me a little swept away with it all, but this was more than just an opportunity to see how TBT can align our sustainability ethos with GreenTech marketing requirements. This was change in how I, and others, need to consider the impact they have on everything around us.

It also came as somewhat of a surprise that there wasn’t a single dreadlock or joss stick to be found at the event. Most, if not all, attendees, presenters and exhibitors are regular, everyday people like you and me. All different age ranges and backgrounds, and not all banging the environmental drum. They were serious, smart people dedicated and passionate about driving positive change across industry and society, because it matters to them, because there is a massive market opportunity in every sector, and because they have beaten me to recognising that we all have to make a change and do more than just turn the heating down a little bit.

Be careful, many brands are simply jumping on the climate bandwagon

What was also clear was that some organisations were jumping on the green bandwagon and aligning their product or service to the green movement, where in fact they had little or no interest in making an impact. They were, as I have since discovered, “green washing” – probably like myself, a paler shade of green than they think they are.

Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it further demonstrates that businesses have identified the groundswell of opinion and are altering their marketing approach to their own benefit. It’s important that businesses clearly articulate their product or service value proposition in an accurate and honest way, and not just target customers’ wallets.

Monetary cost is no longer the single most important factor in the buying decision

Listening to the many speakers at these events, what has become clear is that decisions around investment by businesses are no longer focused on cost first, with climate a distant second. It’s now cost and environmental impact together - it’s moved on from the symbolic planting of trees and thinly veiled PR exercises. Carbon footprint monitoring, using recyclable or reusable products and packaging, and/or sustainably/ethically sourced materials are a must. Customers and employees expect and demand more. It’s now mainstream, the norm.

This “norm” is embedded in how the younger generation has grown up with an implicit understanding of climate change (immortalised by Greta in recent years), and are increasingly filling budget holding or influential roles within industry and business. Those consumers and businesses that do not adapt will be left behind (if the planet doesn’t die before the young-uns get into the workforce that is).

"It’s not about sustainability, but taking responsibility"

Although I haven’t yet reduced my carbon footprint to net zero, I have taken some responsibility and replaced all the lightbulbs in my house to LED ones, put tin foil behind my radiators and booked to have a smart thermostat installed in my house.

Ok, so I’m not going to save the world overnight, but by becoming greener, taking responsibility at home and in the workplace, pushing the features and benefits of our clients’ products from a sustainable business and environmental perspective, we can help increase profit levels and reduce rising sea levels.

If you are interested in understanding how TBT Marketing can position and promote your brand or products in a sustainable way, or to understand the cost savings tin foil behind the radiators provides, get in touch. [email protected] or call a TBT Marketing consultant on +44(0)1373 469270.

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