The Power Of Influence: How Event Marketers Can Drive Sustainability

Environmentally minded marketers love talking about transparency and accountability. These pillars of a sustainable brand are crucial to gaining an audience's trust and loyalty. With that being said, let me make a confession. My industry, event marketing, can be one of the worst environmental offenders.

While many consider event marketing to be a highly personal and effective form of marketing, it can also wreak havoc on the environment. For years, the industry has generated high carbon emissions through the extensive travel associated with tours, created excess trash from promotional materials, and overused non-renewable resources across the board.

Now that we've come clean, it's time to change our thinking.

To truly build brands and spread influence among consumers and constituents, the method of your event promotion should be as sustainable as your message. It doesn't have to happen overnight, or through big, costly changes. Even the smallest steps can become significant over time, and uncover an even more important upside: inspiring others to embrace sustainability, and leaving a positive influence on the communities you touch.

Generate positive impact through low-footprint events.
There's no shortage of sustainable alternatives out there for event marketers, from biodegradable plastics, to soy-based inks, to vegetable oil-fueled and hybrid vehicles. Proper waste management, and water and energy conservation can further reduce an event's carbon footprint. Reputable carbon offsets can even neutralize the carbon footprint of a campaign, contributing needed funding to alternative energy projects.

Sustainable events should also leave a positive impression on the local community. Buying local reduces the distance materials travel, stimulates local economies, and creates jobs. Sometimes, the natural environment around you can provide a perfect canvas for an impactful brand message. For example, we built branded sandcastle displays for a client event on the beach in Brazil. These made a tremendous impact on the consumers walking by, but left no trace on the environment or the seaside community post-event.

Create real value by incorporating sustainable causes.
If it makes sense to do so, consider connecting your brand with an environmental cause during an event marketing campaign. As consumers become more focused on sustainability, they seek out products and services that provide real personal and societal value. If your campaign's message matches well with the mission of a relevant non-profit, the organization will welcome the support and you will benefit from the value the relationship brings to your brand. Event marketing and cause marketing can work in harmony when done authentically, building equity among consumers, while raising much-needed awareness and funds for a significant local or global issue.

Influence your circle to create systemic change.
Event marketing doesn't happen in a vacuum. Often a part of a larger-scale campaign, events can involve a wide range of agency partners and suppliers, and potentially multiple clients and companies. Event marketers are in a powerful position to influence their fellow employees and constituents to embrace true environmental change. Start by educating your employees to implement sustainable practices properly, and getting them excited to share their knowledge.

On the tactical side, it's important that the team has a framework for how to plan and execute sustainable events (from what to recycle on-site to how to convert a gas-powered engine to run on vegetable oil). Beyond your own team, consistently implementing sustainable practices in event marketing can create a ripple effect among suppliers and partners.

For example, increasing the use of sustainable materials for events creates demand for vendors and suppliers to produce more environmentally friendly products. Most importantly, the clients and partners involved in the campaign will learn by your actions that sustainable campaigns are an achievable and replicable goal.

By considering the entire marketing 'ecosystem,' and embracing even the smallest of changes, marketers can lead the way to a positive and sustainable future.

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1 comment about "The Power Of Influence: How Event Marketers Can Drive Sustainability ".
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  1. paul myers, July 1, 2009 at 1:28 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more. Event marketing with all of the printed brochures and plastic promotional items (mostly made in China) tends to be "not so green".

    However, we just finished the 5th Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am <> and this was our 2nd year of making the event "greener".

    From the recycled paper and soy based ink marketing materials to the plates, cups and utensils made from recycled or compostable PLA or corn.

    Even the vendors and sponsors of the event seemed to be "greener", from Ford Motor Co who proudly displayed the new 2010 Ford Fiesta which claims a remarkable 40 MPG to Sambazon Acai who founded the Sustainable Amazon Partnership (SAP), a public and private collaboration with the Brazil Foundation and the Peabiru Institute to ensure the lasting sustainable management of the Açaí regions and communities in the Amazon.

    Other vendors and sponsors ranged from Honest Tea who developed a new PET bottle that is fully-recyclable and is widely considered the most
    environmentally-friendly form of fossil-fuel derived plastic to Nika Water who directs 100% of its profits to alleviate water and sanitation needs in impoverished countries.

    In fact, the entire event - including the main stage - was powered entirely by solar and wind thanks to Sustainable Waves. Coupled with the fact that all proceeds were donated to Stand Up For Kids - this event not only influenced others to create change, it definitely created added value for our event partners by incorporating sustainable causes while leaving a positive impression on the local community.

    Check out some of the event footage on YouTube. Just search "Switchfoot Bro-Am". Hopefully it will motivate some of you to think differently about your event marketing initiatives!

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