The Case for Sustainability.

The business case for sustainability has been won, but somebody forgot to tell the generals and the troops.

Sustainability is not just about being green,  it is the difference between success and failure.

There are people with their eyes and ears open and their mouths shut. People who stopped trying to be alpha male and who started listening.  These people have figured out where the market is going.   The market, all markets are driven by consumer sentiment and by legislation.

The trend for ethics, responsibility, trust and perceived value is one way. It is only getting stronger and we are never going back to rubbish products made who knows where using who knows what by who knows who.

If you cannot see the future, if predicting trend and shaping the future is a mystery to you, then well, you stumbled into the wrong blog.

In the future we only buy from brands we trust, manufacturers compete on quality, ethics, transparency and price. Price is driven through efficiency not through cutting corners.

The race to the bottom that killed western textile mills is in the past. In the future we are not just clever, we are wise.   The mills are coming back, but they will never be the same, they will be awesome, efficient, quality organisations with highly motivated and educated teams.

 The future is now. Tell your boss, your CEO and your Chairman, your customer is already there.

New Zealand wool factory

Wool growing in New Zealand



We are all experts at something, and we all have something to say.  Recently I was listening, for a change, and actually learnt something.  Well, I was reminded of something.

When you talk, speak in the language of your audience.  Wool people talk in textile terminology, which is fine if you talk to a weaver, but really dumb when you talk to a retailer.

When an IT consultant talks in jargon, do we trust her or wonder if we are going to be ripped off?   When a mechanic sucks air through his teeth and talks about machine parts we prepare ourselves for a shock.

I was listening to Jim Hanna of Starbucks recently and he could not emphasize enough how talking Business language to business people had made the difference in the internal battle to sell sustainability within Starbucks.

Talking about saving trees does not make an accountant happy, but talking about making more profit by improving staff retention, reducing energy costs and streamlining value chains – that’s gets the bean counters on board and the HR department and the store designers…

Language is too important to trust to the linguists.  Lets keep it simple and build some trust.


image stolen form random internet site – sorry

Turning Customers Into Clients

Turning customers into clients.

According to Seth Godin..

“Customers hear you say, “here, I made this,” and they buy or they don’t buy.

Clients say to you, “I need this,” and if you want to get paid, you make it.” 

The purple sheep, which stands on the masthead of this blog, is a nod to innovation and to niche marketing.  Making things appeal to one customer as opposed to being beige and trying to appeal to the masses means breaking out of the commodity price driven market and into markets where people value, and pay for things that are special.  Being purple means getting noticed and ultimately getting paid.

What better way to get noticed than tailoring your offering to one specific customer?   A close relationship with your client allows you to better understand their needs and to move fast to make them feel special.  One customer that loves what you do is better than two customers asking for a discount.

purple sheep woods

Purple Sheep in the woods.

*Seth Godin wrote a book called Purple Cow, which uses Purple as a symbol for Innovation – The purple sheep is a tribute to the genius of Seth’s book which beautifully explains why excellence in product design and customer experience are so important in modern marketing.

The Future of Everything and Wool

The Future of Wool (or anything).

How we are going to make wool exciting, again…

How well we know our customers to a very large extent determines how well our product will sell. If we build products based on the market demand then surely our offering will work.

Well, no it is not that simple.

If you listen to a focus group you will get information about what people do and don’t like based on what they are seeing in the current market.  If you build a product based on this you are building a “me too” product that will be nearly as good as the product that inspired the people in your focus group.

The 1st of anything is not copied from a similar product, or evolved with a new colour.  The 1st one is the new innovation that creates a new market all of its own.  The 1st iPad was not a small step, it was a compete re-think of what would be an amazing way to interact with the digital world.

With wool or anything else, we need to design an experience that customers of the future will simply have to have.  This means focusing less on the current market and more on the future market.  That is not as hard as it may seem.  Future trend mapping is a common practice in the design industry but unfortunately not so common in marketing.

When you really understand what motivates people you can start imagining the solutions that people will want to engage with.  Then you start building the solution and assembling the parts…

We don’t sell wool by promoting wool for wool’s sake. We work with smart future focused companies and we imagine and build the ultimate experience with wool.  We design our way to better sales.

After all, marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.


Survival – A sustainabilty check list

In my previous post We are all DOOMED! ,I tried to send out a wake-up call for industry to actually accept that to exist in the near future companies need to acknowldege sustainability as a part of business and start innovating.

This post offers some suggestions, a call to action if you like, plus my ten steps of innovation for no extra cost.

What to do?

It’s not too late, but we are at the tipping point.

If we are going to save the planet, and our business’ in the process we do have to actually begin now. Talking about it has got us this far, but now is the time for action.

There are countless things we can all do that don’t have to cost the earth. Here is how to begin…

1. – Acknowledge that we all have to change. They are not planting any more dinosaurs so cheap oil has gone. We must start using renewable resources.

2. – Make a statement about sustainability – make it public, put your reputation on the line.

3. – Change the culture of your company. Put incentives in place to drive innovations that will deliver sustainable outcomes. People are essentially looking for some kind of pat on the back. Rewards do not have to be financial to motivate people who care.

4. – Set Milestones. No Child labour by 2014, Only renewable energy by 2016, remember wife’s birthday…etc.. Donate plastic clothes to charity and buy new wool suit!

5. – Start with the little things – reduce travel, or use trains. Switch off lights, recycle. Only procure from like minded businesses.

6. – Brag about your progress, tell people what you are doing, help your competitors do the same. You won’t cash-in on all your good work if nobody hears about it!

The spirit of competition is to strive for a better result. Being competitive does not mean banging your opponent on the head. Competition means creating opportunities for your industry to thrive.

Price wars and misinformation campaigns are not Sustainable. That type of strategy is dumb, short-sighted and doomed.

7. Start Innovating! That subject deserves a whole post of its own but the basic 10 steps of Innovation are here..

1. Observe (look for a problem and solve it, don’t reinvent the wheel)

2. Brainstorm (Gather ideas from your team)

2. Refine (Choose one or two ideas that seem plausable)

4. Prototype. (Build an idea into working model)

5. Test. (Show some customers and get an early market response)

6. Tune (Fix the gremlins, the ones your potential customers found)

7. Build it

8. Promote it.

9. Sell it

10. Repeat.. keep going the competiton are following your every move.