July 11, 2017
by randi
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Set your Discovery Brand free

If you have a unicorn in your care – and you know who you are – it takes a special kind of guidance. You need creative pathways to guide your mystical being into the world. The key question is: who else will believe in it? Who sees its beauty and potential?

Marketing your special product, service or system (your unicorn) is part science, part art, and all heart. Think about what the big brands do. The exceptionally successful ones make an emotional connection. You feel something when you think about them or talk about them. And when it comes to promoting something truly transformative, like economic innovation, ecosystem protection, or cultural revolution, the same burst of emotional energy is needed.

When was the last time you recommended something to a friend? We all do this, all day in fact, without even thinking about it. It’s the way we participate in an exchange, a social “currency” in community. If we want people talking about your unicorn, we need to make them look good when they’re doing it. It’s tough to talk about something if you don’t feel confident doing it, or if talking about it makes you feel less confident.

The beauty is that your unicorn does have a tribe, and once you find them and help them feel good talking about it, they’ll do all your marketing for you. According to current social marketing research, almost half of what people talk about is personal experiences, so give your tribe the tools to make your unicorn part of that conversation. Sharing recommendations activates the same brain circuits that respond to food and money. Who’s to say what else it triggers.

Help people discover your brand through their friends and they’ll be yours forever. I’m here to help.

February 23, 2017
by randi
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What makes Corporate Social Responsibility real?

Wildflower room decor for Whistler Athletes Centre

Room decor for Whistler Athletes Centre

I had a pretty simple life before I traded in my desk work for power tools, but some roads are worth traveling even when the destination is unknown. Developing sustainability plans for organizations left me wondering: what needs to happen to make it easier for businesses to solve a problem that needs solving, even if they don’t think it’s “their problem”?

About a year ago, I had this crazy idea that I could wave my magic wand and make all the garbage skis disappear. I was fired up and euphoric because I knew that once people realized that there were options beyond the landfill for ski material, they would be as excited as I was. No one wants to throw away skis. Somehow we know that these objects, and so many others, deserve a better after-life. They have emotional meaning for us.

I’ve hit a few speed bumps on this journey. There are the obvious ones, like the challenge of disassembling densely packed wood, fiberglass, plastic and metal. But there are others I truly didn’t expect. Like questions about the value of the work. I think these are the same people who pretend the climate isn’t changing, you know the type.

I find the toughest barriers the ones that are institutional. When large, profitable, well respected companies with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plans are reluctant to be truly supportive in solving problems they are helping to create, we’re in trouble. Why the reluctance? Because CSR plans are neat and tidy, but in practice, CSR is messy and it thrives in a nimble environment.

So back to the first question: who is responsible? Whose job is it to truly embrace CSR opportunities? And why should they bother? Because at its heart, CSR is exponentially rewarding. It gives employees permission to creatively solve problems that align with shared sustainability values. Customers notice that the company blends with the community, giving that coveted “true local” feeling. And costs – real costs, not just dollars – are reduced through creative partnerships.

That’s what Ski Heaven partnerships should be about with every business, and luckily, we’ve got a few friends in town. Like the good people at the Whistler Athletes Centre. They commissioned us to create unique art pieces for each of their rooms. Three designs – the wildflower, snowflake, and inukshuk – are all original industrial art pieces that tell the story of what it means to love the mountains. In summer and in winter, we are passionate about the wild beauty here, and we know that this is home. Each is made from discarded WhistlerBlackcomb rental skis – about 500 pounds of permanent garbage. They are reminders of why we call this place home, what we love about it, and a nudge to protect it. And they’re just fun to look at, too.

WhistlerBlackcomb is on the path to meaningful CSR, and just as we reward our kids for intention and effort, I’m appreciative of progress. Could more be done? Yes, please. By all of us. We tell our kids to work together to find solutions, rather than pointing the finger of blame, so let’s do the same. And the great news? It’s way easier than you think, and it’s super rewarding.

I still develop sustainability strategies, so if you need a hand with yours, give me a call.

November 17, 2016
by randi
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How to Sell Social Change like Coke sells Coke

As the year draws to a close, those of us working to advance social transformation are left wondering – what went wrong? With little exception, 2016 demonstrated that progressive change is a slow and often painful process. Perhaps the greatest lesson can be found in how innovation been sold – and who hasn’t bought it yet.

Far too often, when government agencies or non-profit organizations want to advance change on a mass scale they use a public education approach. This assumes that if people receive facts, they will make rational decisions to take action; all they need is informationtransformation. If only this were true.

Inspiring social transformation requires the use commercial marketing principles and techniques.  The behaviour change you seek is your “product”, and there is a “price” required to buy it.

Consider the challenge of single occupant vehicle use – the largest contributor to climate change in our country. Several kinds of barriers, or “prices”, create resistance to adopting alternatives. Physical barriers (infrequency of transit service), emotional barriers (fear of bike commuting failure), and – likely most important – social barriers (bus and bike are perceived to be contrary to “how things are done”) all need to be addressed before change is possible.

Beyond barriers, people need to understand the benefits of the “product” you’re offering, and here caution is needed. When behaviour changes benefit society more than the individual, we need to incorporate intrinsic values and avoid over-stating extrinsic values. Triggering people to think about intrinsic values connects them to a deeper and more compelling reason for action. The social benefit has to be matched with an attractive product (the preferred behaviour), and this is where campaigns often mistakenly emphasize extrinsic values, such as personal financial reward. Research demonstrates that “what’s in it for this place I love”, and “what’s in it for me” need to go hand in hand. Appealing creatively to identity benefits is most effective.

This approach is called social marketing, and it is based on decades of research demonstrating that people do not rationally weigh out the costs and benefits of a particular choice. We’re actually quite irrational. We don’t know why we make the choices we do, and very often, we choose behaviours that are not in our own best interest.

Does your communications strategy need a fresh approach? Start by re-focusing on key target audiences, understanding their needs and desires, and then launch a sustained marketing program that reaches your market where and when they are most receptive to the buying the product. I’m here to help.

Here’s hoping we can all do a better job of selling social transformation in 2017.

September 7, 2016
by randi
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The Whistler solution to skiing’s dark side

Like all products, skis fall victim to design trends. With claims of superior performance, skis have changed in shape, size and composition, and while this has led to a better ski experience, it comes at a cost.   Along with these innovations, skiers have produced a mountain of waste ski gear as they upgrade to the newest models. At the same time, the Ski Snowflakemountains are experiencing less reliable snow conditions thanks to a warming climate, caused in part from the burden of landfill waste.

In a way, the ski industry is cannibalizing its own future. The ski manufacturers are turning a blind eye to the impact their product marketing is having on the very industry to which it is dependent for sustained success. Even North America’s #1 Resort, Whistler Blackcomb, has a substantial ski waste problem. Disposing of these skis sustainably is difficult, time consuming and expensive, and as a result, every year, thousands of skis and snowboards – tons of compressed wood, plastic and metal – are sent to landfill.

Ski Heaven is a small social enterprise with a mission to eliminate winter sports equipment from landfill. Every Ski Heaven product re-purposes waste skis and tells the story of what it means to be a skier. A new David and Goliath partnership is forming to do something real about this dark side of the ski industry. Whistler Blackcomb’s partnership with Ski Heaven is about finding the place where its brand can play a vital role for change.

Why is Whistler Blackcomb on board? The company shares are gaining like never before and based on its net profit margin of 14.73%, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. is showing a 23% higher revenue in 2016 compared to 2015. With stock value this high, it makes sense that the company is considering its community legacy and the many ways it can influence positive trends in the ski industry. Are they doing enough? You decide. And share your thoughts on their Facebook page.

Marketing with a purpose that goes beyond the bottom line – but that undoubtedly adds lasting brand value – is something today’s most progressive companies have been benefiting from for years. Certified B Corps break free from the constraints of a narrow growth model and allow long term strategic plans to trump short term bumps in market value.

You, brave consumer, are perfectly positioned to lobby people in the business of snow sport. Before you hand over your credit card, ask about the life cycle plan for the merchandise. Are your skis designed to be re-built into the next great model? Keep the pressure up, because without it, the mountains we love to play in are at risk of melting from neglect.

Until then, there is Ski Heaven. Imagine a future where our love for the mountains doesn’t destroy them. Visit www.skiheaven.ca to view the product catalogue and purchase online.

 

February 7, 2016
by randi
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Zest up your partnerships: free guide

elevated partnershipsPartnerships are a great way to expand capacity, increase credibility, and strengthen networks. They can provide access to new target audiences and communications channels, not to mention industry insights and subject expertise. So why is it that so many mishandle these relationships?

Establishing new partnerships is like dating, and if you want the relationship to last (or at least not end badly), you should plan your first moves carefully. Be deliberate about what you’re after right from the start. Just in it for a short and sweet weekend campaign? Looking for a steamy strategic alliance? Does your potential partner know what you want and want the same thing?

After years of witnessing collaborative potential slip away, I developed a practical guide to help you distinguish yourself as the leader who knows what it takes to make partnerships work. In this spirit, I offer you Kruse Consulting partnership criteria, developed at the SFU Centre for Dialogue.

A few quick partnership tips:

  • Don’t mislead to get what you want without a thought to what’s best for the other party. People will talk about you, and it will be more and more difficult to initiate meaningful partnerships. What kind of reputation do you want to have?
  • Do your homework before jumping in. Find out about your prospect’s organizational culture and values, and see what others have to say about working with them. Why should you trust them?
  • Coordinate internally to maximize the value of partnerships. Rather than taking a narrow, short-term view, seek out connections where mandates align. How many different ways can you help each other?

When you work with people who see the world differently than you do, you can generate a wide range of solutions to a shared challenge. Truly innovative organizations aren’t doing it alone; they are brilliant because they have combined their greatest strengths with the strengths of others.

Kruse Consulting has successfully negotiated many partnership agreements between some of Canada’s best known organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation, the NHL, Canadian Living magazine, BC Hydro, University of British Columbia, and many others. Contact us today for support and get the most out of your professional relationships.

December 31, 2015
by randi
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Slowing Down in 2016

jan image2The New Year can be intimidating. Everywhere you look, there are stories about starting new activities. This isn’t one of those posts. I’m a big fan of slowing down.

It’s been creeping up on me, this feeling that we have collectively normalized “overwhelm.” Ask any friend or colleague how they are, and you will receive a long list of too-busy proof points. Why have we accepted, and even celebrated, this pace? It doesn’t make us happier, and it certainly doesn’t make us more effective – personally or professionally.

You undoubtedly care about making the world a better place and if you feel like you aren’t doing enough, I can relate. To compensate, we say yes too often and take on more than we should. We hurry the process, rush past insights, miss the subtleties, and these are the very factors for success. When this pattern becomes the norm, it’s nearly impossible to feel successful. Can you identify special moments from a year ago, or was it a blur?

In 2016, practice the art of saying no and give others permission to do the same. After all, busyness is just a bad habit.

You will hear the following requests many times in the months ahead, and it’s up to you to proactively prepare your response:

“I’m heading to a meeting, can I just leave this with you to finish up?”

“I know you suggested further research, but couldn’t we do what we did last year?”

“There’s a great event / online tool / new group – you should check it out.”

To become the talented change agent you were born to be, commit to the following:

  1. Focus on sharing your unique talents. If something falls outside of the scope of your talents, it’s not in anyone’s best interest for you to say yes. Welcome growth, but shed something old if something new begins.
  2. Commit to understanding the full picture, from multiple perspectives, before taking action. It’s the difference between brochures and real engagement.
  3. Allow projects and opportunities to come to an end and to pass you by. Chasing every butterfly will leave you dizzy.

Not sure where to begin? There are talented guides who can help, and if you think your organization needs support, there’s help for that, too. Want to get started right away? Let go of your short-distance drive, and walk instead. The benefits of walking are so numerous, it’s impossible to list them all: connection to community, clean air, composed mind and body are but a few.

Starting new habits is a good thing, but whatever you do, drop at least one bad one. And maybe start with the car.

August 5, 2015
by randi
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Summer Love Child Announcement

My latest addition to the world is a feisty character, and people are already drawn to her enormous potential.

Like most babies, she keeps me up at night (I’m so in love that I don’t mind). Unlike most babies, she is only interested in feeding on waste products.

Skis and snowboards, to be specific.

Her name is Ski Heaven.

Each year, thousands of skis and snowboards are sent to the landfill. I believe there is a better way.

Ski Heaven transforms old and unused skis and snowboards into new products. I am looking for partnerships with artists and builders to develop marketable products. All skis, snowboards, and design templates will be provided for free. The top three projects will be pitched at the upcoming Whistler Angel Den event in September with the chance to win $500 cash.

Interested in partnering or purchasing products? Know any creative types who would be thrilled to get involved? Please visit www.skiheaven.ca for more details. 

 

June 9, 2015
by randi
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Big problems are solved through relationship

Picture this:

It’s a hot summer day and we’re celjune blogebrating the start of new adventures. The beach is packed, and we came prepared with toys of all kinds including a stash of cold ones. After a few hours, we happily pile into a car and our buddy says he’s fine to drive us to the next party. We never make it.

Every day in Canada, an average of 4 people are killed and 175 are injured in impairment-related crashes. Fathers, friends, coaches, neighbours. Can you even believe this is still true? After decades of campaigning and heart-wrenching victim reports, why can’t we solve this problem?

We’ve all heard it: Don’t Drink and Drive – the message is clear, this isn’t about complexity being a barrier to change. Tougher regulations have also been imposed, and while the number of crashes has decreased, the rule-makers haven’t solved the problem, either. It’s a good thing that the laws are evolving, and it’s good thing to remind people about those laws. But the fact is that people don’t respond to rules or broadcast messages without higher motivation, and that higher motivation is found in relationship.

It doesn’t matter how many ads are on the radio or how many driving suspensions are issued; if we don’t build responsibility for the health of our communities through stronger relationships, we are stuck in Maslow’s basement – an uninspired place where change is unlikely.

You are responsible for making the world a more peaceful place. Your small actions do matter, and every day you influence people around you through your choices.

My friend Ross once asked me, “What are you passionate about?”

I’m passionate about motivating the motivated to motivate others. About building stronger communities. And I’m starting in my own backyard, where we obviously have some work to do. Drinking and driving isn’t about education or enforcement. It’s about engagement through relationship.

Dedicated to Ross Chafe: you will be missed by so many. Aloha.

April 7, 2015
by randi
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Earth Hour – Earth Day – Earth Momentum

Like many, I struggle with the concepbandwagont of Earth Hour, and while we’re at it, Earth Day as well. I have a love-hate relationship with them. On the one hand, I’m proud that my hometown reduced more electricity than any other community in BC (for the second year in a row!), reducing total electricity by more than 7%. On the other hand, I think – so what? These token events can seem to trivialize the revolution that is necessary for our survival. I’ve heard the same said about how pink ribbons insult cancer survivors. And yet. Is there benefit to jumping on the bandwagon?

Bandwagon effect: a phenomenon whereby the rate of belief or behaviour uptake increases more when they have already been adopted by others. As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon.” Bandwagons have momentum.

Here’s the problem with making activism trendy: the true message gets lost in translation, and important events become more social than purposeful. But here’s the problem when activism isn’t trendy: the message remains intact and no one comes to the party. You know those kinds of parties: the cocktail conversation is intelligent, but there’s not much energy in the room. It feels a little cold and impersonal.

Because that’s what revolutions need, isn’t it? The message needs to get picked up and played with, it needs room to morph through all those messy social processes and yes, lose its original meaning. And maybe in the end, that’s the purpose of international events – for them to represent all of humanity, the full spectrum of our brilliance and madness. Revolutions, as they say, are not quiet events.

So I’ll wear my ribbons and buttons and wave the flag for Earth Day. And I’ll rejoice in how it has evolved from its origin into something much bigger and more democratic. For those of you looking to leap onto the bandwagon, my friends and colleges at SES Consulting are hosting a full day of fun not to be missed. Check out their Earth Work Day schedule and be part of the action!

February 17, 2015
by randi
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Creating personas to create connection

Susan - the wipes flusher

Susan – the wipes flusher

If you are in the business of communicating with people, you’ve no doubt heard the advice to “meet people where they are.” Designing effective communications requires an audience centered approach. Narrowing the focus of persuasive promotions will result in tactics that are more likely to influence the choices of our target demographic. I’m sure you segment your audience until you have a well-defined group in mind.

As it turns out, “meeting people where they are” can be much more dynamic. By developing a representative character, or persona, who represents a real person in the target audience, the communications become more creative and engaging. We can be more effective in speaking to people’s hearts as well as their heads. Thank you, Ideo, for this valuable insight.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What interests them? What do they care about?
  • When in their day are they most interested in conversation?
  • Who do they trust? What does their social network look like?

I recently used this process with my clients at Metro Vancouver. We’re working together to solve a nasty, and largely invisible, problem: toilet abuse. After considerable research, we now understand that a segment of the population are flushing wipes, which are wreaking havoc on the sewage system and ultimately compromising regional water quality. Gross.

Here’s who we’re after:

Susan lives on her own in a condo. She works at an office and leads a fairly quiet lifestyle. At 50, Susan is watching her money as she thinks ahead to retirement, but likes to treat herself to products that make her feel youthful and pampered. She cares about the environment and her community, but doesn’t seek out extra information about sustainability issues. She’s a quiet conformer.

  • Who does she trust: friends, family, local news
  • Where does she get information: women’s magazines, TV news
  • When is she most likely to be receptive: at the store, at home
  • Why does she care: fear of embarrassment in her shared building

Our communications strategy will be designed to reach Susan, which is far more inspiring than designing to reach the segment she represents: women 45-65 who are in the contemplation/preparation stage of change, living independently in multi-unit residences with an average annual income of $50,000.

So, go ahead and thin-slice your target audience – have fun with it. But whatever you do, test your approach before you hit print!