As I sit through a couple presentations about sustainability and “going green” at the BE Green South Sound conference, it becomes readily apparent that very few people understand this movement.  Don’t get me wrong, lots of folks think they understand what sustainability is.  They will talk about being eco-friendly and “green” but have no concrete definitions for those terms.

If you can’t define something, you don’t understand it.

Paul Schrag and Mary K. Johnson of the local Tacoma marketing team ISIRIS started off the mini-conference with a helpful insight into this lack of a mindset.  According to them, those who support the sustainability movement in the business community suffer from a lack of cohesive  story.  In other words, when business owners talk about going green or sustainability, the very people they are trying to help tune out.  This represents a real problem for many people who are passionate about environmental issues, because if no one is listening to you then what’s the point of talking?

Paul says being relevant is the key.  If you are concerned about the future of this planet then you have to stop over-using statistics and scientific evidence.  People will listen to your numbers, but rarely will they HEAR you.  Instead, he urges anyone who cares about persuading others to become more green to find some relevancy between the movement and the people they hope to convince.

It all comes back to merging stories.  Where does the green movement and the intended audience share a story?  To begin, the business should start with broad themes.  Control, connection, and balance are all possible themes and from there you find real life examples of those themes in your audience’s life.  Then the business should find the analogy to that real life example in their own processes and beliefs.  Core Theme — Current Behavior — New Analogy —- Broader Understanding for Audience.

Again, marketing is about relationships and communication.  Communication is about stories.  If you want to be an advocate for green or sustainability then you need to construct a great story!  Simple as that.