As I wrote in the previous issue of MRW, when the new year gets into full swing, we all tend to reflect on that which has passed and look forward to the one ahead.
It has been a busy one for our team in preparation for the launch of our company rebrand from WasteSolve, and we wait in eager anticipation of our onward journey as Veris.
But what about your business? What aspirations have you got for the future, and what market forces might you and your customers be up against? What place does sustainability hold within the hearts and minds of customers and how can we, the waste industry, help play a part in this?
While waste is not always the most significant part of a company’s environmental profile, it is everywhere and actionable. So our industry has a pivotal role to play in the success of the green economy and helping businesses become truly sustainable.
Research shows that consumers want to buy green products and services. They trust and expect businesses to source with integrity and deliver more stretching corporate social responsibility agendas, and they also want to be involved in the evolution of the journey. More critically, they are prepared to boycott companies whom they deem ‘irresponsible’.
The world we live in demands change to overcome our current challenges with resources depleting and the costs of raw materials rocketing.
Recycling is no longer a business ‘need to do’ but a ‘must do’. Becoming less wasteful as a business is a goal we need to help our customers reach, but keeping the momentum going and keeping on track can sometimes be hard going for them. How can we help to transform our customers’ approaches for our mutual industry benefit?
Unfortunately there is no instant formula to crack this nut. But to give a helping hand in accelerating your customers’ sustainability ambitions, we have put together a six-step guide to help direct their engagement activities for 2015.
1) Identify your target audience
Before you can engage with stakeholders across your customer base on the sustainability agenda, you first need to profile who your customer actually is. Consider gender, age and socio-economic status because each has an influence on needs and motivations, helping to steer your onward customer insight activities.
2) Everyone is a customer
Before reaching out to your customer base, complete a pilot study with a internal staff engagement exercise. As ‘customers’ themselves, they can help you build an initial picture of drivers and barriers to sustainable behaviours in the home and work environment, and provide some useful insight.
3) Engage with your audience
Taking insight from the pilot study, why not host an interactive round table session to engage directly with a sample of your customer base? Sustainability is often seen as irrelevant and confusing, so this provides the perfect opportunity to make it more accessible and inspiring.
Share your new-found customer awareness among your peers while learning from others’ experiences. Employ these insights to make a difference through participation in industry working groups for the exploration of joint solutions to enhance sustainable business behaviours.
5) Get on with the programme
You can now take informed steps to promote positive behaviours with your customers. Remember, key stakeholders like simplicity, so make ‘being green’ as accessible as possible, and be confident in what goals you feel can be achieved.
6) Promote dialogue
In today’s digital era, people increasingly use online networks to share ex- periences, form opinions and shape actions. Create an online platform to promote ongoing dialogue with your customers. Encouraging the sharing of experiences and opinions allows your customers to be agents in the growth and evolution of your business, while connecting you with the evolving dynamics of customer expectations and desires.
To engage you must understand your audience and then pitch in the right way to inspire participation. So why not put the wheels in action with these six steps for success in 2015, and prove that our industry can be a significant driving force in achieving sustainability?
Kate Cawley is creative director at Veris Strategies