For me, the most memorable moment from Al Gore’s “inconvenient” truth was an image of scales with the earth on one side and a stack of gold coins on the other. The audience laughed as he sarcastically stroked his chin and posed the question: “Which is more important? Profit margins or the planet we live on?”
Al Gore’s mocking punch line is indicative of a broad public perception that sustainability is an inherent compromise for business and, by association, jobs. Unfortunately, many green marketers have privately conceded this point and simply attempt a variety of end runs and ineffective counters.
A recent chart published by American Council on Renewable Energy depicts job creation per investment dollar for various industries. While this chart does not answer certain profitability questions (there is still a lot of money to be made in natural gas and coal), it certainly does make a case for a green advantage in job creation.
This brings me to my point. Sustainability is good for America. It’s not just good for tomorrow –it’s good for today. In the recent Presidential election, we learned a couple of things about what people want – job creation and continued global leadership on the technological front. Both of these felt needs can be specifically addressed with sustainability initiatives.
Shelton Group has long trumpeted personal empowerment and cost savings as core green marketing levers. If you want behavior change, it’s about power and the pocketbook. The idea that sustainability is good for more than just the planet and has immediate, tangible benefits is a great complement to this proven way of thinking.
It’s time for “greeny-greens” to put on their pinstripe suits and start making a case for the business of sustainability. “Made in America,” green jobs and technological innovations (to name a few) are genuine marketing advantages provided by sustainability and they need to be clearly communicated in packaging and promotional material.
So, when you trumpet renewable energy, don’t just talk about carbon – talk about building the economy with technological advancements. When you promote your domestic sources, don’t just highlight reduced transportation impact – highlight the American jobs. These are concepts with broad appeal that will reach mainstream consumers and bolster your sustainable messaging.