Sustainable storytelling

Cheryl Steelberg, Lawn & Landscape - February, 2020

With the promise of a new decade, a great brand story in 2020 will be one of the best ways to drive a deeper connection with your audience.

Seth Godin, the author of “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable,” has this advice for CEOs thinking about repositioning their brand: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.”

The best story about your company will connect with people at an emotional level. In other words, it’s not about the awesomeness of what you do, but about how what you do has an awesome impact on others.

To find your talking points for a customer-centered storyline, look to what’s going on in their market, their priorities and goals, and how and where they buy.

To illustrate how this works, let’s look at the influence of environmental performance in the property and facility management industries. Generally, this segment’s sustainability drivers center around improved air quality, energy efficiency, water management, ecological impacts and safety and risk management.

Here are 10 ways to reframe your sustainability story and create content written from your commercial customers’ point of view:

1. Focus on the upside.  Identify case studies that include positive elements of your organization’s processes, policies and best practices as related to the natural environment and how your path to sustainability improves your customers’ path to stewardship.

2. Emphasize green. Discuss how an integrated landscape strategy benefits green building or LEED, supports urban green zone initiatives, improves a healthy public space, decreases annual operating costs and reaffirms the value of landscape as a return on investment.

3. Demonstrate your leadership. Showcase innovation, energy efficiency, smart water technologies, renewable and alternative solutions and all-season conservation and eco-friendly practices that protect groundwater, mitigate erosion, encourage bio-diversity and benefit habitats and watersheds.

4. Build a narrative around four-season value creation.  Your expertise in managing snow/ice, fire, drought or extreme weather events, and why your unique knowledge in ecologically productive landscapes, rain gardens, habitat restoration, pollinator and bee-friendly programs, for example, translate to mitigating risk and improving the quality of life.

5. Connect the dots. Your company’s environmentally friendly landscape design, construction and maintenance and winter management practices are drivers of improved property resiliency and higher performance.

6. Make sustainability central to the way you do business. Your sustainability platform drives how you train your teams, advances your professional growth, leans up your operations, serves your customers and makes your company a great place to work.

7. Always involve your customers in your story. How has your company has positively improved the life of their business.

8. Be true to your company’s authentic self. Make sure your content matches your brand values and voice.

9. Know your customer. Social media can get your message out to millions. Sometimes it’s better to reach a perfect audience of 100.

10. Where you tell your story is as important as how you tell it. Find out where your customer buys, what platforms they’re on and where they seek information and news. Don’t forget video or the value of panels, presentations, and lunch and learns.

Landscape companies are moving toward making sustainability messaging less ambiguous. What’s good for the planet is generally good for people. Take a closer look at what your company is doing to create value for your employees and customers. Elevate your brand story by demonstrating the long-lasting impact landscapes have to unite people where they live, work and play.

Words of Wilson is a monthly column of rotating Wilson & Co. subject matter experts.  To read the article in Lawn & Landscape, go to:

Published with permission GIE Media, Lawn & Landscape magazine ©

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