Someone asked me recently where the Green in Green Leads came from?
It originally was a name that sounded great for a demand gen company, and "green" had lots of connotations: Money, greenfield opportunities and of course living green, which my wife Linda and I believe in and do our best to do our part.
Last week's blog post sparked another discussion at a client meeting. Lead Gen Tip for Q2: Face Time and an article from last year, C Level Prospects: Make Your First Appointment by Phone, can be summarized with two bullet points:
- Introductory sales appointments are effective if done by phone, and executive level prospects are more willing to do first meetings by phone
- Second meetings are more effective if done face-to-face
The conversation went from business to environmental impact when someone offered, "Besides, phone meetings are better for the environment, too."
Green Leads has been buying carbon offsets over the past year as a way to reduce our own carbon footprint. We calculate this number based on the number of employees we have as well as the square footage of our offices. We have also kept our footprint about 50% less than companies similar to ours by implementing our Virtual Hybrid Office Space concept (reduced space, commutes and other waste).
We're in the business of B2B appointment setting, and meetings can often mean travel -- travel impacts carbon footprint, be it by car or plane. Green Leads has decided to let our clients help with our green initiatives by using a portion of our meeting revenue to purchase carbon offsets:
| ||Phone Meetings :||0.002 tons CO2|
| ||Face to Face by Car :||0.08 tons CO2|
| ||Face to Face by Flight :||0.29 tons CO2|
| ||Green Leads (Employees & Space) : || 142 tons CO2|
It is estimated that Green Leads and our clients will purchase estimated carbon offsets to cover between 500-600 tons of CO2 footprint in 2010. Green Leads will be making these carbon offset purchases through CarbonFund.org and will post a chart on our blog to track the impact we've made over time.
So take those first introductory appointments by phone. If we reduce face-to-face meetings by 50%, we can reduce our impact by 175-225 tons of CO2. Let's put the Green back in Green Leads.
Several readers and fans have asked before, what is with the "Green" in Green Leads? What does b2b lead generation have to do with being green? Other than the obvious connection between green and money, the real inspiration for the name Green Leads was to build a marketing services company that was conscious about our community, the environment, our clients and people, and unlike other marketing services companies, operated in a sustainable model. Employee turnover and client retention is a huge issue in our industry and Linda and I wanted to combat those issues head on. Responsibility and quality was key to this decision, and it all stemmed from our practices of green living.
On the surface, an appointment setting company has little it can do to be green, but if you look under the hood, there are lots of things our company does that are positive decisions, practices, and beliefs that do not negatively impact the environment in ways that traditional companies do. There is a partial list on our website.
This post isn't about Green Leads though, it is about Green Marketing and how markets react to it. We've all seen it, the use of "environmentally conscious" messages to sell, brand, and market numerous products and services. It is obvious with products that have primary impact (cars, computers, energy, food), but there is also the not-so-obvious such as what we do (virtual office, recycled computers, carbon offsets, tap water). The question I raise, and I believe I've seen answered over the past few years, is "does the market react to green marketing in a social way, as a movement, in a way outside their traditional behaviors?"
A couple points from recent experience, which in the most part is b2b:
- One of our largest projects last year came to us because the client had a massive investment in their own green initiative and wanted to make choices along the same lines. The directive came directly from their CEO.
- A survey we conducted in IT departments asking about green computing initiatives in IT show that 70% of IT executives consider environmental issues important, and 48% have active programs or budget allocations promoting green initiatives.
- My green blog posts have higher traffic patterns than my marketing posts.
- Most people we talk to that find out about our philosophies want to engage in a conversation about green issues. Is the topic alone enough to cause positive impact on society?
- The Green Gap seems to exist between those that have completed higher education and those that have not. Those with higher educations seem to have the interest in green and the economic ability to make green spending decisions. Also, most b2b buyers do have higher education backgrounds.
- Green is a topic of conversation. It is trendy to be green. The topic comes up in business during normal conversation, it comes up in social settings. Green is in.
- Obama and McCain both brought green issues to the forefront of their campaigns, right behind the economy. And talk about a social movement - Obama followers were acting as a social organism, not just a population sampling.
- Beware of Greenwashing. Have a solid plan with proof of your strategies and practices. Create materials that document your green work. Copies of certificates, offset purchases, internal plans and procedures, vendor choices, etc.
- Recruiting and employee retention has been impacted by green practices. In our case, we have only lost 1 employee of their own choosing in three years. For the b2b lead gen industry, that is unheard of.
My verdict lies in the fact that we have gained clients due to our green practices and messaging. We have made some impact through the socialization of our messages. Our community of employees, contractors, clients, and vendors have recognized the practices as important to them. The market seems to react in a way not traditional with typical b2b marketing tactics. There is an upswell, a desire, and an interest in green. Clients want to work with companies that are doing the right thing. It is a deeper desire and behavior than a product evaluation or price decision. It breeds loyalty and market growth, and ultimately contributes to the branding, growth, demand creation, and generation of new and repeat business.
A few articles worth reading:
The Environmental Leader, a green briefing for executives, states that more than 70 percent of directors at U.S. publicly-traded companies said they believe sustainability is important to profitability.
The Ecoprenuerist's Megan Prusynski wrote an article that introduces Sustainability in Business Planning.
Business of Design Online's Jess Sand wrote about How to Find Green Vendors.