By Steve O’Donnell
Sustainability is all about the capacity to endure.
To achieve sustainability, we need to be smarter about our impact on the world, and more efficient in everything we do, from how we consume resources to how we do business. Consumer groups demanding more responsible business operations have long been pushing for sustainability to preserve natural resources and lower the carbon footprint of business nationally.
But there’s another aspect to creating a sustainable business, one that has to do with the way we market to, and interact with our customers – pursuing new approaches and better engaging customers through a social, collaborative approach. Not surprisingly, small businesses are catching on.
Small firms, with their nimble size and their reliance on local economies, local networks and loyalties, are the businesses of the future. As such, they are a resource waiting to be tapped – if only we had the imagination to bring them together for the common good, and create a real opportunity to think big while acting small.
For the most part, traditional marketing is an unsustainable practice, particularly for smaller companies. It is environmentally wasteful (raw materials used for billboards and print ads), expensive (broadcast TV), and uni-directional (we tell you why we’re great). If you spend enough money and resources pounding your message, you may drown out competitors and get consumers to buy your products. But even goliath companies have discovered that traditional marketing is neither efficient nor responsive to customers — both of which are core to driving sustainability.
Social media is everything traditional marketing isn’t and it changes the marketing game, particularly for small businesses. Eschewing the high costs, mass-oriented and environmentally wasteful methods associated with traditional marketing, companies can use less expensive and more environmentally-friendly social channels such as Facebook, blogs, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to finely tune brand awareness and specific messages to larger, wider and more segmented audiences.
For young companies, social media is an essential tool for building awareness and launching new products, services and programs, and can help build traction in less time. Going social also enables businesses to engage the consumer in profoundly new ways. Instead of speaking at the customer, you’re having conversations with them. Companies that “get” social media spend their time listening to, responding to, and interacting with customers while testing new ideas in real-time.
And a growing percentage of consumers are looking for brands willing to contribute to the sustainability of the world’s ecosystems and social balance. As such, social marketing can help set an example. Along with using reclaimed or recyclable materials when making energy-efficient products, using recycled paper for packaging, participating in social change programs and charities throughout the world, social marketing helps form an important part of a company’s core values.
Going social gives smaller companies a new-found, highly-sustainable business advantage, and has the added benefit of setting an example for competition, both big and small.
GreenBytes delivers patented IO-Offload desktop virtualization storage optimization software that maximizes the effective performance and capacity of existing infrastructure to provide persistent, full-featured virtual desktops with the manageability, scalability and affordability required for cloud-scale VDI deployments. GreenBytes was founded in 2007 and is based in Providence, Rhode Island.