Green Industry: Are You Helping or Hurting Your Marketing Efforts?
April 6, 2015
Successful green industry businesses balance their experience and technical know-how with good communication skills and a commitment to consumer education. Relying solely on the company’s reputation and word-of-mouth referrals might still work for a very small segment of the industry; but for most companies a commitment to content, marketing and some form of advertising is no longer avoidable.
However, when cash flow is tight, the economy contracts, or a company is experiencing what feels like a painful growth spurt or transition, there are a few common knee-jerk responses that are often more hurtful than helpful.
The first is a rush to cut marketing and advertising from the operating budget. This is a big mistake. Why? Simple: When you’re out of sight you’re out of mind. Even if your aspirations for growth aren’t grand, most businesses need to replace some percentage of customers on a regular basis.
Awareness of the company brand and services is the number one driver of new and repeat customer sales. If you do have big growth goals then you’ll most likely fall short of them without a solid commitment to marketing. You might think your company offers the best thing since sliced bread; but rest assured the public will still forget about you if you don’t have a presence in their media consumption sphere. Cutting your marketing budget typically doesn't solve your cash flow problem; but it just might create a bigger one.
Another common response is the refusal to innovate through technology. The need to communicate digitally through contemporary websites and social media has yet to be fully embraced by the green industry. Many company owners simply don’t see the need to spend the time or money on a dynamic website, Twitter or Facebook account. Just because the company CEO doesn’t hang out in the digital world doesn’t mean your customers aren't there; they are. In fact, they practically live there!
Effective marketing entails reaching the customer where they are. Building an up-to-date website with useful content, plus a lively social media presence, are crucial parts of a successful marketing strategy. Ongoing website upgrades, digital content and social media maintenance need to be taken seriously and represented in your operating budget.
Say a company commits to all the above; think that gets them off the hook when it comes to networking? It doesn’t. To be truly successful and productive in this industry requires that companies build a network of trusted allies and mentors. Building a vibrant network demands that company members put themselves “out there” in a number of different ways; be it joining professional organizations, serving on organization boards or attending industry events. Resistance to networking actively on an ongoing basis typically results in lots of missed opportunities and brand awareness.
Finally, companies often refuse to admit it may be time to outsource some help for their marketing needs. It can sometimes be hard to admit that outside help is needed to achieve company growth goals. You’re the expert on your business, right? Of course you are; but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a perspective that’s fresh enough to market it to new customers. You probably also don’t have the time to do it yourself. Many green industry companies can’t yet support a full-time, technically knowledgeable, marketing professional on staff. Outsourcing to a freelancer or agency can be a cost-effective solution that helps you actually get your marketing initiatives of the ground.
Embrace change. Then, know when to ask for help and don’t be afraid to ask for it.