Regenerative Marketing - are you in?
by Toby Barazzuol on Wednesday Apr 1, 2009
At Eclipse Awards we’re working on a new style of marketing that we’re calling Regenerative Marketing. It’s one that we hope will ultimately turn small businesses into engines of community revitalization and richness, rather than beasts of consumption. At Eclipse, we take our marketing budget and instead of pursuing traditional direct mail campaigns, we put these funds towards real, substantial projects that contribute value to either the environment or our community, or ideally both. Then we tell those stories through word of mouth and social media such as twitter and facebook. This focus has allowed us to build some true community assets, while also conserving many of the resources normally associated with direct mail. We call this Regenerative Marketing in the sense that it helps regenerate our community and environment, while also helping to renew peoples’ confidence in businesses as a positive force in society.
If you’ve used or followed Eclipse Awards, know that we take great pride in crystal awards, green awards, and the philosophy of recognition. You probably also know that we place tremendous value on the quality of our work, our reliability and integrity, the happiness of our staff, and our commitment to sustainability and our community.
What you might not have noticed immediately though is how we market our awards and company. You will definitely see us online and possibly in some magazines. Word of mouth referrals, testimonials and notable clients have also contributed to our growth. What you won’t see much of though, are printed materials and mailouts. In part, this stems from our commitment to minimize our footprint by limiting our consumption of materials, or avoiding them altogether. In our experience, the majority of these promo materials typically end up in the landfill, fewer are recycled, and even fewer result in any sort of a sale of awards. We also spent several years perfecting a photorealistic way of generating our award images by computer. In fact, DELL recognized us as one of Canada’s top 10 Most Innovative Small Businesses for this as it allowed us to virtually eliminate the need to create and ship samples. We’ve also invested heavily in technology to provide better, more efficient customer service, and we’ve used these freed resources to pursue more sustainability initiatives.
By reallocating our traditional marketing budget, Eclipse Awards has been able to:
- build 2 green roofs with vegetable gardens
- create a healthy and inspiring workplace for our staff
- support the St. James Music Academy that teaches at-risk youth how to play musical instruments (love this project!)
- fund the Eclipse Award for Environmental Leadership scholarship at Kwantlen University
- helped develop and hold two small business expos on sustainability
- launch a community sustainability library providing free resources to people with shared interests
- host a mason bee “apartment” on our building to help with local biodiversity
- support and use green power
- Help reinvent Strathcona as Vancouver’s green zone of sustainable community
- provide free bikes and an onsite shower for our staff to use
- provide incentives for our staff to bike or walk to work
- and a whole range of other fun projects that we’ll describe in this blog
These are lasting projects and assets that will benefit our community for years to come. In the past, we’ve pursued traditional marketing campaigns which had questionable value event 2 weeks later. How many flyer campaigns from last month can you recall?
Today’s consumers are intelligent and thoughtful...they can separate the real from the superficial and they yearn for integrity and values in a service market that’s become devoid of service. Our clients also love the fact that by using Eclipse Awards, they’ll not only get world class service and personalized awards, they’re also empowering us to make our community a better place.
Admittedly, we are in new territory and learning as we go. The important thing is our fundamentals are in place - quality, service, reliability and convenience – so it gives us some freedom to explore new ways of doing things. Now, if ever, is a time to be bold and creative!
Will it work? Only time will tell. A lot depends on our ability to get these messages out through non-traditional channels and if clients will continue to value the types of sustainable, community projects that we pursue. In my mind though, this is the new generation of marketing – substantial, real and positive, presented in a way that respects people’s intelligence. It’s working for our company, so maybe it will work for yours. Can you imagine a near future in which small businesses support meaningful projects instead of mindless, superficial marketing messages and become successful because of it? Imagine the next generation of businesses that will build community gardens, green roofs, renewable energy projects, or that will support community arts, or education, or caring for our elders. What kind of a world would it be if love and compassion were rewarded in business?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on regenerative marketing. Can it work? Are you doing something similar? Are there any things you’d like to see us try? Let us know because the future is what we all decide to make it.