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:

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.

Anita - Saturday Jul 29, 2017 at 1:37pm PST
Brilliant innovative brave - and exactly how a business for good can express it's values ... this will work it is working and may more embrace your vision and innovations... Cause ... this is amazing! Nice job toby!
Allan Holender - Tuesday Jan 3, 2012 at 4:40pm PST
Let me add my thoughts to what has already been said. Congratulations for aligning your personal vision with your professional mission. Five years ago I birthed a revolutionary book for it's time called Zentrepreneurism. You are living that book, a true "zentrepreneur". I would love to visit with you and share more with you and your team. I know you have read Umair's book on Betterment. Let me add my contribution to your book collection. www.zentrepreneurism.com Keep on reinventing and regenerating the future!
wesley regan - Monday Nov 21, 2011 at 4:13pm PST
What an awesome concept. The nature of marketing, of business and the entire free market system for that matter is definitely changing, or on the cusp of changing, fast. And it needs to, which has become painfully obvious. This is a perfect example of the kinds of innovative approaches successful businesses are making Toby and I love how it has such a great ring to it! Regenerative Marketing is the response to the Race to the Bottom, which has sadly dominated the business world for far too long- particularly the corporate world. By bringing businesses back into a role where it supports the health of communities beyond the important but over stressed economic role they play (kind of like they did for thousands of years before modern industrial capitalism) the aggregate effect is supporting the health and progress of human civilization something even the most optimistic reader should be concerned about in a globalized world. I say that while trying not to reek of hyperbole, I sincerely believe it all adds up. Our priorities as businesses had gone so off course in the past 200 years, this kind of approach helps to reorient us all to see that business and the environment, business and social or cultural wellbeing should never have to be considered a zero sum game. It can be and needs to be a win-win game, otherwise it does not end well for all involved by the looks of it. Good on you Toby and the whole Eclipse team!
Cher Hanusiak - Wednesday Mar 17, 2010 at 10:45am PST
This is brilliant. I adore this idea and I think it can really work. I'm so on board with this, to alter the way people typically market themselves, I'm just getting into entrepreneurship and have been brainstorming creative/alternative ways to market because I think it's such an important step and this idea of reciprocal benefits is inspiring.

ps - I just found you through Granville Online that posted and article called "businesses going green" that was originally posted on inhabitat.com. Viral!

Toby Barazzuol - Monday Apr 20, 2009 at 12:43pm PST
Alexis, it's probably best to start off with something small that doesn't cost too much, just so that you can gauge the reaction of your clients, managers and co-workers. Committing to green power or starting a small garden outside of your office might be some easy ways to start exploring regenerative marketing.

Start putting out these ideas to your associates in conversation and see how they respond. Some things may get a better reaction and this might help you decide where to focus your efforts. You don't have to go public with anything until you feel comfortable that you've found a good fit and have an understanding of how people will react.

We are continually inspired by what people find interesting and it has helped guide our company's focus on how we contribute to sustainability and community. Once you take those first steps and receive a positive reaction, you can become more bold in advertising your claims. To create more "content" you'll begin to explore different avenues that interest you and your company. The process feeds itself and seems to magnify and become more powerful, the more you commit to it.

One word of caution...your commitments should be real and substantial, tempered with a bit of humility or else you run the risk of greenwashing. Ideally, regenerative marketing opportunities should be a by-product of true sustainability commitments, not vice versa. After all, part of the focus is in regenerating peoples' confidence and trust in businesses.

All the best in your efforts and let us know if we can assist in any way.

Alexis - Wednesday Apr 8, 2009 at 7:48am PST
How can I get the company I work for involved? I am the sales manager for a new renewable energy company on Vancouver Island?

Toby Barazzuol - Monday Apr 6, 2009 at 10:30pm PST
Rich, thanks for your comments. In many ways, economic pressures are forcing companies to evolve, so we might as well try to do it in a constructive way. Our company makes crystal awards, but we don't let that limit our thinking in any way.

John, I like you're description of "marketing is the wake formed by giving". It definitely supports the idea of marketing as a by-product, not as a goal itself. That is a fundamental shift, because the goal itself then becomes adding social value. This of course assumes that all of the basic business fundamentals such as service, quality and reliability are already at a level of excellence.

Rich Patterson - Monday Apr 6, 2009 at 7:42pm PST
Congratulations, this is an evolutionary approach to business and one that more of us should be embracing. Kudos!
John Dumbrille - Monday Apr 6, 2009 at 3:46pm PST
I love it. Another way of putting this ( I guess) 'Marketing is the wake formed by giving.' Great blog post, and great (regenerative) concept



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