How to influence people, the planet and profits with your brand

When marketing or promoting your brand,  focus is frequently placed on the core business such as landscaping, accounting, or architecture. You may approach potential clients with a message that says, “We have better products or services than our competitors, and our prices are better to boot!” Letting people know about your competitive advantage is good advertising, but what are you doing to promote your brand? Keep in mind your brand is determined by what others actually think about your services and products, not what you tell them to think. So what do people really think about your business and how can you influence them to view your company favorably?

A great way to position your brand favorably in the minds of consumers is by pursuing sustainable business practices. We’re not talking about tree hugging and recycling your old t-shirts. We’re talking about practices that offer real benefits to your employees, the community the environment, and your economic performance. These all contribute to the development of a better brand for your business.

As you read on we challenge you to quiet the voice in your head that says “How much is this going to cost?” and invite in the thought “What will be my return on investment.” Here are 3 ideas to get you started on initiating some sustainable business practices;

Change the way your employees commute.

While many of them won’t be able to shake that driving habit, most of them will welcome the break from pouring money into the gas tank to get to and from work.

1. Invest in a transit program for them. Many public transportation providers offer an employer discount for companies who want to offer passes to their employees. Take Kansas City for example. Their metro offers the Transit Rider’s Incentive Plan or “TRIP”, a program where employers pay at least $4 toward the cost of a Metro Monthly Bus Pass and the Metro matches the $4.

2. Offer incentives for carpooling. Host a lunch on the company once a quarter for frequent carpoolers. Start a prize pool. Every time you carpool, your name is entered to win tickets to your local sports team or dinner gift certificates. This is a great way for employees to start the day with a positive thought and creates camaraderie amongst your employees.

Implement a water management plan

1. Start with a water audit. A water audit entails an inspection of landscape irrigation system components (controllers, valves, sprinkler heads, etc.) to evaluate their working condition. A water audit also evaluates the uniformity of your irrigation distribution and inspects your water usage records for a 2-3 year period. The auditor can make specific and targeted recommendations for ways to conserve water for more efficient landscape irrigation and reduction of costs.

2. Update your irrigation technologies. If you have an irrigation system in place you need to also have a fertigation system to deliver nutrients to your landscape as well as an intelligent irrigation control system to automate your watering times according to the needs of your specific landscape. These two technologies will have a huge impact on your labor and materials used, allowing you to cut your maintenance costs across the board. [Read more about the benefits of fertigation.]

Go green in the office

Here’s an easy, inexpensive option to get your toes wet.

1. Use clean energy for lighting. You know those crazy looking twisty bulbs that cost more than the regular ones sitting next to them? Invest! While most of your office lighting is probably long fluorescent tube lighting, surely you have lamps, bathroom or kitchen lights, or bulbs in the lobby that can be changed over to these super bulbs. They’ll save you money by lasting longer than the traditional bulbs and also immediately lower your energy bill every month.

2. Recycle your paper. You probably have a recycling box next to your copy machine but the only time it ever really get’s used is when someone makes an accidental copy. Give each employee two cans at his/her desk, one for trash, one for paper. You may find your recycling bin filling up simply because of convenience.

Toot your own horn.

Whether you’re implementing small changes in your office or tackling a large sustainability initiative, let people know what you’re doing. This is the factor that effects your brand. Start with your employees, they’ll appreciate an email or memo letting them know you are making their workplace a better place. Then, make a call to your hometown newspaper or send a press release informing them that you’re working to create a sustainable environment by taking water conservation seriously or promoting fewer emissions by changing the way your employees commute. Invite them out to see what you’re doing and talk about the new technologies and practices that you’re using. Telling your story in a unique and memorable way helps engrave your brand on the consumer psyche. Positive press on your business practices indirectly affects your overall brand image. Reputation is more than just how much or to whom you sell. It’s image. It’s the feeling people get when they think about your company. Finally, splash the news to your current clients in your e-newsletter. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Keep it fresh in peoples minds by updating this content as the story unfolds.

Sustainable business practices are more important than ever because they are a great way to improve your brand awareness and boost brand loyalty. They can impact people, the planet, and your profits. All you have to do is start.

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