Thursday, April 15, 2010

I like the plan but, uh, spare me the details please.

Green design and green building sound great.
Cleantech sounds great.
Sustainability sounds great.

But those terms hide a considerable amount of detail that, I think, makes the average American squirm. I wrote a bit about this at the end of this blog entry. Seth Godin also posted about this same idea here with the key message:
"This is a great opportunity for marketers and others that want to engage with the public. If you can figure out how to communicate, "it's not your fault," then people will be grateful, and they'll return. It might not be right, it might not be mature and it might not be the behavior society wants to advance, but it works.
Even better, figure out how to teach your customers to enjoy taking responsibility. It's the long term solution that builds a healthy relationship between customer and vendor... you coach them on good choices and they embrace what happens after they make them. "
 If I start talking about water conservation through composting toilets or about peak phosphorus and the implications that has for human waste recycling, like having urine separating toilets in your home or office, I think it's safe to say I'll turn off most people. I certainly wouldn't try to lead my marketing campaign with a picture of any of those things.

If I start talking about the details of sustainable agriculture and the cycle of waste to food, no matter how delicious or natural the results, I think I'll end up with the same problem: Most people will think it's gross and will be turned off.

So how do you reach a broad audience with cleantech aimed at addressing these kinds of sustainability problems?
Maybe it can made it into a game?

Or maybe it takes a few generations of bringing it up in classes and mainstream media for people in general to accept it.
Or maybe it just requires that everyone become European, where this kind of thing doesn't seem to be quite so disturbing to talk about.

 A marketing problem worth thinking about.

Certainly helps clarify why we hear so much about solar, wind and LED lighting anyway...