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The Importance of Triggers in Your Green Marketing

This post originally appeared on the the Water – Use It Wisely blog.

Let’s face it, none of us in conservation has the marketing budget of Budweiser.  Sure, beer is more fun than water.  But if you had your druthers on a desert island, which would you choose for survival?  Most of us would presumably choose water, unless of course you’re not long for this world and you want to go out like Homer Simpson.

In the “highly romantic,” and mostly underfunded, business of water conservation, we typically get one or two shots at our target markets with our messages.  All while competing in that mass shooting gallery of advertising.  So not only do we have to be great shots, we have to be smart.  That’s where environmental triggers come in.

Brothers Dan & Chip Heath, educators and “idea collectors,” wrote an incredible book on messaging called, “Made to Stick.”  This is an absolute must read for anyone in the business of persuasion – and let’s face it, we’re all in that business in one way or another.  The Heaths are also regular contributors to Fast Company magazine where I came across their article about environmental triggers.

It’s gratifying to note that, several years prior to their book, article and blog, the Water – Use It Wisely campaign was built solely on environmental triggers.  The creative came from an intuitive solution to how to make our message resonate in the every day habits of our water-using customers.  That means everyone.

The whole concept is based around unexpected, but highly effective water-saving devices. Like a toothbrush, for instance. It is a physical prompt that reminds you to turn off the water while you brush your teeth (a razor does the same for shaving). Another example is water-saving device #15, a broom. It begs the question, “How can a broom save me water?”  The answer, of course, is to use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway or sidewalk and save at least 80 gallons every time. We make your broom an environmental trigger; a tangible extension of our message that triggers conscious actions toward saving water every time you use it.

The campaign is all about presenting these “water-saving devices,” each with it’s own number to emphasize the main campaign theme: “There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.” You, of course, being water-saving device #1.

In our on-going effort to give voice to water – YOUR voice, and to make your life easier in finding and activating relevant information on ways to produce effective messaging, we highly recommend the Made to Stick blog.

If you’re using triggers in your messaging, or you have seen a great example of them in another campaign, please share it with the water world by commenting below.

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2 Comments On This Topic
  1. Michael Margolis posted
    April 15, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Always loved the Heath brothers discussion of environment triggers. I remember that FC article!

    Your campaign is a great example of defining common objects into symbolic stories.

  2. Green marketing - 7 sustainable storytelling tricks for green marketers | ParkHowell.com posted
    August 31, 2010 at 7:01 am

    [...] The Water – Use It Wisely campaign is based on environmental triggers. What are “environmental triggers,” and how do they work? “The importance of triggers in your green marketing” [...]


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