By overwhelming vote of the Steering Committee, the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers is now the International Association of Green Marketers. If you want to be notified when we’re ready to accept members (still hashing out the organizational stuff first), please sign up at http://internationalassociationofgreenmarketers.com/. If you want to be involved with the Steering Committee, post a comment below (with your contact info) or shoot me an e-mail: shel at principledprofit.com
With one hour and ten minutes left to go in the month of August, I’m going to squeeze out one last #blogboost post. Thanks, Michelle and Michele for organizing this.
It seems I’ve touched a nerve in stating my intention to launch the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers. I’ve had responses from Indonesia, Dubai, and the UK, among other places.
Last night, we had our second Steering Committee conference call. A vibrant discussion centering on our roles and our funding. We decided for now we’ll try to obtain funding from Green companies in whose interest it is for us to be viable, because we in turn will attract more customers for them as the Green message starts to get out. It’s exciting.
You’ve all heard, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” Well, perhaps that’s true. But another parent might be frustration: wanting to do something better, more easily, faster than you currently can.
Yes, some products are developed to fill a need we haven’t known we had. Advances in portable technology, from the beach transistor radio and Sony Walkman to smart phones and PDAs, have often come up to create whole new markets once we realized that these devices we never had were indispensable. Ditto with kitchen technology improvements, like the microwave oven (I still don’t have one of those, by the way). Maybe we could call this “visionary innovation.” A lot of the really big sweeping changes come from these types of innovations: telephones, personal computers, solar collectors, bicycles…
But other innovations clearly arise because someone got frustrated by the limitations of what existed. Thomas Edison went through 10,000 experiments before he could develop a workable light bulb. Would he have had the patience for that long quest if he hadn’t felt frustrated that the dark hours were so unproductive? Certainly the idea of lighting a room has existed since the discovery of fire, thousands of years ago. But the need for better lighting became much more acute as the 19th century brought not only the Industrial Revolution (with big dark factory spaces to be illuminated) but also a mass culture that began to read actively.
Look at Google: Existing web search tools were very frustrating in the mid-1990s. To completely change the paradigm of how material was scanned by searchbots in order to achieve not only faster and more accurate searches but also a much cleaner interface was likely a response to the clumsiness of Yahoo and Alta Vista at the time.
I’m not an inventor, but I am an innovator. A few years ago, I registered some domains for what I thought was a very cool concept: Enter a budget for airfare, enter available departure and return dates (and how much latitude you had with each of those), possible departure airports, choose domestic or international, and have the site spit back suggestions for actual trips you could book (I remember that one of the domains was wherecanifly.com). This came directly out of my frustration trying to plan a trip without having a clear destination and having to laboriously enter itinerary after itinerary.
I still think it’s a brilliant idea, and one that would be easy to fund with venture capital, advertising, and commissions on travel services. But programmers I talked to told me that was a lot harder to engineer than it seemed. After a year of not finding anyone willing to run with it, I let those domains expire. (Anyone want to run with this, talk to me about being your marketing director ).
People like R. Buckminster Fuller and Amory Lovins seem to have an almost magical ability to fuse the visionary and the frustrated; they harness their frustrations not for the obvious incremental solution, but for something new and deep and very exciting—and they also have a certain inventor’s ADD. The present is never enough for them; they’re always on a quest for something new and strange and wonderful
Both Fuller and Lovins had an impact in industry after industry—reinventing construction, transportation, industrial manufacturing…whatever struck them as in need of improvement.
Right now, I’m in the process of launching the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers: a trade association for Green marketers. I hope that what comes out of this will also be a fusion of the best in these twin fathers of innovation.
I’m organizing an international trade association for Green marketers–with the hope of not only raising our own visibility but providing the media and speaking venues with a pre-vetted bunch of articulate experts who can make the case for sustainability –and actually foster changes in society by increasing our own influence.
Please take a couple of minutes to answer the quick survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8WB8ZMG – if you might like to serve on the Steering Committee, your answer is time-sensitive, because I’ve suggested some possibilities for a conference call early next week. Even if you don’t want to be involved at that level, your input is very valuable right now.
If this is of interest, you’ll probably want to read the series of blog posts I did last month, pondering the structure and scope of the organization: http://principledprofit.com/good-business-blog/category/international-association-of-earth-conscious-marketers/ (This post will show up at the top of the list; just scroll past it.)
This week, I’ve been thinking out loud on this blog about how to start a brand new international organization to serve the needs of marketers who work to advance an environmental agenda. It’s a big and complex task, and I’m hoping to take the time to get it right.
But this is not going to be my private fiefdom. It’s going to be a community, a support network, and a joint effort.
There are a lot of questions to hash out. I’ve posted some of them here in the last seven days, and here are a few more:
And some longer-term questions, like
To grapple with these questions, we need some sort of structure. I propose a Steering Committee of between five and ten people who are willing to devote some energy to this. Ideally, we’d meet once or twice a week via teleconference or Skype for an hour or so and hash out some of these things, starting in mid- to late July (I’m about to go on vacation until then). If you’d like to be part of the exciting process of birthing a new organization, drop me a line: shel at principledprofit.com, and use the subject line: IAECM Steering Committee.
As I’ve been publicly thinking out loud about forming the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers (a trade association for Green marketers), this article by Matthew Ammirati on MediaPost, “Is It Enough To Be Green? What About Being Good?” seems very timely.
The article asks whether we should…
…be buying an all-natural household cleaner in a recycled package but if the company has a team of migrants in Africa working in horrendous conditions in 18-hour shifts, does it really make you feel better about buying that product?
These kinds of questions come up regularly in my work the last decade or so, and they raise their heads again in thinking about how this organization will work. For instance, what happens if people who work on Walmart’s sustainability initiatives apply for membership?
Walmart has a lot of Green cred. They’ve done a tremendous amount in the past few years not only to make their own operations substantially Greener (and not coincidentally saving hundreds of millions of dollars. But there are many other aspects of their operation that are deeply troubling to me, and I don’t shop there.
I just looked again at the proposed behavior standards for membership–and I don’t see anything that would keep Walmart out. So if the organization were to adopt those standards, someone working on marketing Walmart’s sustainability initiatives would be welcome, as long as they were doing real Green marketing and not greenwashing. So would the conservative political consultant who has posted a couple of comments on these working drafts. Employees of a company such as Halliburton might have a much harder time proving they qualify.
What about a tougher case? Suppose someone has been involved with the sustainability initiatives over at BP (a company that actually at one point was fairly well regarded by mainstream environmentalists)? What about questions about supply chain and vendor practices and investing and charity programs and and and… Some kind of arbitration system will be needed to determine who qualifies and who does not. Any ideas for how to set that up?
In my eighth book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson), I very clearly and deliberately link ethical behavior and Green practices, and point out that the two combined are a powerful path to success. But the standards of behavior I’ve proposed for membership in this trade association are focused on the Green side and don’t really talk about ethics other than in a specifically Green context (e.g., no greenwashing). Should those broader issues be addressed? By whom, and who judges?
What would be the mission of an international trade association for Green marketers? In launching the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers, here’s what I hope we’ll be focused on:
1. To use our skills in marketing and our commitment to ethical approaches to create messages that encourage the use of earth-friendly products and services, and the rapid spread and adoption of earth-conscious ideas into the social mainstream.
2. To identify and oppose (both publicly and privately) messages and methods that claim to be Green but are actually harmful to the environment and/or misleading to stakeholders and/or the general public. (Need an example? Read more…
Yesterday’s post dealt with measuring accomplishment to qualify for membership in the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers; today’s is about behavior.
Negative Screens (WHAT AM I LEAVING OUT? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section)
Membership in the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers will not be open to anyone who claims to be Green. To provide value in the membership, members need to pass both accomplishment-based standards (employment, education/training, and/or volunteer work) and behavioral screens. We’ll talk about accomplishments today, and screens tomorrow
Here are some I’m thinking about: Read more…
As noted in yesterday’s #blog30 posts, I’m using my participation in the seven-day subset of Jeannette Cates’ 30-day blog challenge to flesh out (and get feedback on) ideas for the trade association I am going to start, serving environmentally oriented marketers around the world: International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers.
Today, I’d like to ask you what roles would be most important for members.
I’ve thought of a few possibilities—and I’d love to hear from you which you think are most important, whether I’ve left out anything crucial, whether any of them are just dumb..whatever you’d like to tell me: Read more…