Archive for the ‘alternative transportation’


Sustainability Gains from Gaming

The Business Council on Climate Change presented a program last week on how games are inspiring ways to get people on board with sustainable behavior change. The presenters, from Blue Shield, Sabre Holdings, SunPower and RideSpring, all had great stories to tell about how their interactive contests are inspiring people to increase their environmental efforts, get healthier, carpool more, or boost their store of knowledge about solar power.

Goals for these programs vary: improve employee and customer health (Blue Shield), boost employees’ sustainability behavior and knowledge (Sabre), increase market awareness and sales (SunPower), and expand knowledge and use of alternative transit and ridesharing among commuters (RideShare). (More info and links to programs are at the BC3 site.)

The experiences of all four reinforce what research has been telling us all along about getting people to act more responsibly in all kinds of arenas.

Make it relevant. Sabre’s Leilani Latimer noted that employees didn’t care about environmental actions at home—they wanted to know what they could do at work. Blue Shield’s Bryce Williams had similar experiences with his program.

Don’t chastise. Admonishing people for bad behavior or not fulfilling a goal almost never gets results, at least in the long term.

Go team. Competition gets intense in the Sabre and Blue Shield programs, in which participant teams compete by performing environmentally friendly or healthy behaviors. The actions are recorded and tracked online.

Peer pressure works, even if you’re not in high school. Team members pulled their own weight, and everyone reported that knowing what everyone else was doing meant people weren’t likely to cheat. Several people noted that fame—for instance, seeing your name in a company e-mail announcing winners—is a motivator.

Prizes work (if they’re coveted). Paul McGrath of RideSpring swore by regular prizes (his programs provide them via random drawings), as long as they’re good ones.

Prizes don’t work (if they’re eh). Sabre’s program offers prizes to workgroups, but they’re so small that they’re not the main motivator, said Latimer.

Make it easy. No one will do anything if it’s too complicated, time consuming or difficult. All these programs feature easy online access and simple steps.

CNGVC Newsletter Ranks High in Quarterly List

The e-newsletter Thinkshift produces for the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (CNGVC) has once again made the quarterly Vertical Response 500 list, this time at number 17—up from 264.

The e-mail marketing award recognizes top-performing Vertical Response customers. To qualify, customers must send four or more e-mails and achieve average open rates above 20 percent and click rates above 4 percent. The CNGVC newsletter typically gets open rates in the mid to high 20 percent range, and clickthrough rates in the mid 20 percent to high 30 percent range.

The consistent success of this newsletter just goes to show that substantive content, carefully tailored to audience interests, will shine through the clutter.

CNGVC Newsletter Earns Marketing Kudos

The e-newsletter Thinkshift produces for the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition made the Q2 2010 Vertical Response 500 list, at number 264.

The quarterly e-mail marketing award recognizes top-performing Vertical Response customers. To qualify, customers must send four or more e-mails and achieve average open rates above 20 percent and click rates above 4 percent. The newsletter typically gets open rates in the mid to high 20 percent range, and clickthrough rates in the mid 20 percent to high 30 percent range. The exception: the July 12 issue had an incredible 85.25 percent clickthrough rate.

I wish I knew how to repeat that. What I do know is that the consistently high open and click rates for this newsletter are driven by rigorously targeting content (including original reporting) to audience interests.

CNGVC Site Wins W3 Award

I’m happy to report that the website we launched early this year for the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition won a 2009 W3 Silver Award in the green websites category—kudos to David Kerr, our design partner on the project, and congratulations to the Coalition project team. W3 awards honor outstanding websites, web advertising, and web marketing; winning entries are selected by the International Academy of the Visual Arts.

We’re especially pleased with this award because the site is model for making the most of limited resources to create a site that serves current needs, allows room to grow, and requires minimal maintenance. See my earlier post on how we did it, but in a nutshell, the keys were: a tight focus, simplicity, and a strategic plan that everyone was committed to.

Be Upfront About Your Challenges

For companies introducing advanced technologies, one key to credible communications is honesty about the challenges you face—market barriers, infrastructure gaps, and the like. People often think they can head off market skepticism by putting on a brave (problem-free) face, but that can backfire.

  • People who understand the challenges may assume that you don’t—or that you don’t have a plan for overcoming them.
  • People who don’t understand the problem may develop false expectations, and feel misled when they learn the full story.
  • Your silence leaves skeptics free to exaggerate the problem.

Real courage calls for facing up to challenges. Do that publicly, and you’re more likely to be perceived as trustworthy and farsighted. The best approach: bring up known issues yourself, so that you can describe your plan for overcoming them, or show how the positives outweigh the negatives, or talk about why the negatives don’t apply in your case.