Kermit the Frog once lamented that "it's not easy being green." That's certainly changed in recent years. From reducing one's carbon footprint to living in an environmentally sustainable way, being green has gone from being a trend to permeating every thought of the American psyche. And now it's entering the lexicon of the for-profit world.
"Sustainability is a growing issue for businesses in general," says Nicole Vowles, former marketing instructor for the Business School. "Executives are asking how their marketing efforts can move beyond simply driving revenues to also playing a role in the betterment of society in general."
She notes that nonprofit organizations led the charge in cause-related marketing. However, for-profits are increasingly incorporating sustainability and social issues into their core corporate values and overall branding.
That trend is reflected in new classes and certificates available to University of Colorado Denver Business School alumni and students. For example, the MBA and MS programs in management now offer a specialization in Managing for Sustainability.
One course offered as part of the Sustainability specialization during the spring 2008 semester was Vowles' Nonprofit and Social Marketing. "I developed the class from scratch leveraging information from other courses across the country, talking to practitioners in the field and reading the latest books and articles," she explains. "The class focused mainly on social marketing issues and how to apply for-profit marketing principles to nonprofit entities or causes.
Jenn Boes, MS Marketing '08, took Vowles' class and was motivated to complete an internship to apply what she learned at Denver Water. "I wanted to do something good for the environment and our community."
In the class, Boes worked with fellow students to formulate a plan to help the city agency increase water conservation in two pilot neighborhoods. The students developed marketing strategies and messages to encourage over-users to reduce their outdoor watering. Denver Water identified the high water-use households and invited them to participate in a free, water conservation pilot program.
"We visited more than 50 houses and educated residents about ways they could specifically increase the efficiency of their watering process" says Boes. "For example, we'd suggest watering a zone for a shorter period of time, then returning to it again for a short interval so that the ground could more effectively absorb the water."
Together with three fellow interns, Boes collected volumes of data that have since been piped to a private market research firm for analysis.
Reprinted from the fall 2008 14th St Journal