Selling The Long Game
As marketers, we tend to assume that people are looking for products that will make their lives easier and more comfortable. As green marketers, we hope that people will also be looking for products that are sustainable, with a reduced environmental impact.
Environmentally friendly products have long suffered from the stigma that they aren’t as efficient, are more expensive, and are more complicated.
I’ll concede that, in the short-term, it’s easier and cheaper to buy the average light bulb that’s sold at my local grocery store rather than make a special trip to a store that sells the more sustainable LED light bulbs. But in the long-term, the LED lasts longer and reduces my electricity bill significantly.
If you’re going to convert the average consumer to choose more expensive, more complicated products that are environmentally friendly, you have to convince them to play the long game. And in order to do that, we have to focus resources on education.
While there will always be those people who buy from their hearts and value system, in a crunched economy, even the most passionate consumers will be driven to buy with what’s in his or her wallet.
And this is actually a good thing, because to play the long game, you’re appealing to the consumer’s sense of logic. And that logical, frugal consumer is more apt to make knowledge-based decisions rather than emotional ones. We shouldn’t be afraid that our marketing education programs will be a “if we build it, will they come” scenario. Consumers are actively looking for information. For instance, according to a study by PwC, 83% of U.S. consumers go online in order to research products before they buy them in “brick and mortar stores.” The internet is our blackboard on which to teach people about why sustainable products are the better bet, even when they are more complicated or more expensive.
That said, we cannot solely rely on people to seek out information about our products and services – it is the role of green marketer to make the required argument using targeted tactics and strategies to educate the consumer in the most effective way. For some it may be a snappy online video – for others, a white paper. The reality is that people are constantly evaluating brands – for price, quality, environmental impact, longevity, recalls, brand cache, etc.
As McKinsey proposes in its Consumer Decision Loyalty Journey, there are four actions that marketers can take.
1. Align – align your resources with where people spend their time
2. Link – ensure that messages are consistent across every touch point
3. Lock – earn the consumer’s attention and allocating resources to engage the consumer at every step of their journey
4. Loop – understand that marketing is a continual loop – not a funnel.
What are you doing to educate consumers and sell in the long game? Let me know here or at @Brigid_Milligan.