OK, pull out your devices and dial in some old REM from 1985. It’s time to get deep into green mode… yes, it’s spring, and there’s more pollen in the air than I’ve inhaled in years. As a point of fact, the whole natural world right now is, well, green. No matter how cold and snowy the past winter may have been, the early, hot, arrival of spring is a reminder that the world may well be getting warmer. Even if you are uncomfortable with the idea of global warming, you are certainly cognizant of the fact that we, as a nation, are burning through resources at a grimly unprecedented rate.
And there’s no denying the cost (in greenbacks, if you will) of those precious resources. You see those numbers melting away from your agency bottom line every month… the high cost of travel, the cost of all of that lighting, heating, cooling, and running all of the high-tech equipment that goes hand in hand with agency life. As the media mercilessly flogs the impact of our national energy addiction, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the weight of this issue. So, what effect, as a smaller to mid-sized agency, can your actions have in the face of this problem?
But that’s the beauty of being in the agency business; we live by rising above the doomsday talk and having a positive emotional impact on the lives of our clients and their customers. We’re here to solve problems. We exist to help our clients build their businesses and brands in a creative, constructive and forward-thinking way. And the best way to do that is to begin in our own proverbial backyards.
Agency Green Initiatives
Just like any other new agency strategic initiative, the only way to begin greening your agency is to plunge right in. Get together with your agency staff for a “green” lunch, do some brainstorming, get everyone into green mode, and begin moving toward changing the way your agency operates.
Start with your agency’s physical environment, and make it a showpiece for clients. As you move forward, look to adopt green practices. Can you afford/is it practical to incorporate solar technology into your building? If you can pull this off, by all means, do so. Can’t power the entire building? Install solar landscape lighting; even small steps contribute to the greater good. What other types of power and water conservation measures can your agency enact? Tell clients and prospects how you cut your monthly energy bills in the agency’s blog or e-zine.
What renewable/recycled materials do you use in your everyday office life? Consider purchasing used or refurbished furniture, or carpet manufactured using recycled or low environmental impact/sustainable materials. Switch to recycled paper products and encourage digital over printing on paper; install a rain barrel to capture water for watering the plants around your building; purchase inexpensive cups or dishware so employees can reduce use of disposables.
Taking Your Green on the Road
Focus on cutting paper, mailing and transportation costs with more electronic delivery of agency communications. Again, measure the effects on your agency’s bottom line and share what you learn and how you are saving to encourage your clients to do the same.
Pare down on travel costs. Discuss scheduling so your account people group client visits efficiently, scheduling meetings in geographic proximity whenever the situation permits. Use Skype or other electronic means to meet and touch base in between in-person client meetings. Test web collaboration software to work with clients online.
Encourage the use of fuel-efficient cars. This may be a tough sell for account people who are accustomed to the comfort of a large vehicle, but there are now some good larger alternatives. If you control the leases, seek vehicles that get at least 30 mpg. Go hybrid if possible. If you want to be fanatical about it, consider electric.
Encourage employees to use public transit if possible in your area. Give bonuses based on miles clocked throughout the year on bus, train, bike or foot. Post pictures of these efforts on the agency’s website or social media pages.
Hold a Green Summit with Your Clients
When you have fully activated your agency’s green initiatives, you can further position your agency as a green leader by holding a “green summit” with your clients. Invite a few different client contacts to your agency or to lunch to discuss green issues. Every community has green issues that need to be addressed, and your agency can serve as a catalyst for local green activism. This benefits your agency on multiple levels: improving client relations, improving client and agency focus on green branding, and creating ongoing PR opportunities.
Ours is not a voraciously energy-hungry business, so there are only so many ways we can lead the way in our own agency houses. But it’s still important to take the green high ground. If we all do this, we can also lead our clients in the right direction.