Marketing in a Greener Environment

Nov 11, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The consumer research firm Cone Roper reports that Americans buy goods based on price. But when these same buyers confront similar product offerings from various companies at the same price, they are most likely to buy from the company that gives back to a charitable cause.
This extra effort by a company to win over a buyer’s emotions is what we in the advertising trade call a “tie-breaker.” In TV marketing, a tie-breaker is what makes the difference when an advertiser’s price and product are identical to the offering of the competition. This extra value point is usually not monetary but entirely emotional.
For example, did you know that Target gives more than $3 million a week to U.S. charities and posts this fact on the interior walls of all its U.S. stores? When you read this just now, did your opinion of Target improve ever so slightly?
Another cause marketing tactic popular today is so-called “green” marketing, which involves the process of tying a product or service to a helpful environmental cause. This phenomenon began with consumer products and now has spread to many other sectors of retail. Green marketing’s special attraction for advertisers is its unique appeal to the middle- and upper-income consumers who feel a sense of responsibility to not only do well, but do right.
A creative way to use green marketing tactics is in home-building marketing.
Since literally tons of environment-impacting products are used every day in building homes, green marketing for a builder should be a natural marketing angle.
Case in point: We recently had the pleasure to consult a unique home builder in a major metropolitan area and see up close successful green marketing tactics at work. Steve Brock is chairman and CEO of Brock Built Homes, a successful Atlanta-based home builder. Brock Built Homes is the regional leader at making in-town living affordable. Few other Atlanta builders have been able to achieve anything close to Brock Built’s unique offerings and sales results.
We asked Steve Brock what it means to be a green builder and about his success with television and Internet marketing.
TelevisionWeek: How has television put Brock Built at the forefront of Atlanta builders?
Steve Brock: I’ve been building in the city of Atlanta for 23 years and am now the No. 1 EarthCraft green builder. Our recent TV campaign has effectively delivered the message to all of Atlanta that Brock Built is a leader in smart growth and green building.
TVWeek: How is Brock Built performing in comparison with other Atlanta builders, especially in this softer real estate market?
Mr. Brock: Our volume of sales is outpacing our competitors’. Being an EarthCraft builder and building close to the city, allowing people shorter commutes, have helped pull us out in front of some of the big builders.
TVWeek: What do you expect your television and Internet marketing plan to achieve?
Mr. Brock: Our TV and Internet marketing build awareness of the need for attention to the environment and make people also aware that Brock Built is a better builder for doing something about it. We also are experiencing additional sales and happy customers.
TVWeek: Tell us what it means to be a green builder and how consumers react to that fact. Mr. Brock: Building green is satisfying. We have built and delivered a home in the top 1% of performance and efficiency of all the houses in the country. We are first aware of different ways to construct our product that are more efficient and beneficial to the environment and, second, we are willing to and do build that way. Our customers are more appreciative that they will have a more comfortable, healthier home that saves money.
Brock Built Homes also has a level of awareness far beyond that of other home builders in the Atlanta region, simply because it has adjusted its marketing plan to include the media used by women to shop for homes. Since women view several hours of television every day and use the Internet for personal shopping, advertising on these two mediums makes sense.
Knowing this, Brock Built effectively shops for consumers the same way consumers shop for a new home. This is the simplest of concepts, yet how many home builders are still advertising in local newspapers on Sundays when most women have planned their weekend shopping by Thursday night?
If most women do not even subscribe to a local newspaper, and if most weekend home tours occur on Saturdays and Sundays, then why do Sunday print ads make sense? The answer is they don’t.
Getting in synch with a buyer means buying the media consumers use every day.
Brock Built Homes knows where, and even when, to advertise every week. It also knows that when consumers are about to buy, they are primarily concerned with location, price and traditional home features. But when all customer needs have been satisfied, the fact that Brock Built Homes is a green builder appeals to their environmental passion and concerns. This in turn creates an effective tie-breaker for Brock Built Homes in comparison with the other builders.
It’s worth mentioning that other builders in the same city are also green. But the fact that Brock Built tells this compelling story on television to reach the masses makes Brock Built appear to be the only green option.
Green marketing is really about providing a tie-breaker after location, cost, features and benefits are weighed by the consumer. It gives these consumers an emotional connection to a builder that values the environment in which they build new homes. Green marketing helps to tell the consumer that your company is part of the solution and not part of the problem. It also humanizes your company in the eyes of a buyer.
So it’s true that being a green builder alone does not drive most home purchases. But being a green builder affects consumers who still need a final reason to choose a Brock Built home—and isn’t that the result we’re looking for in the end?
Adam Armbruster is a senior partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.


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  2. I mean, I could see all this fuss over the guy if he’d led Jersey to the Finals

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