The East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) was tasked by government with reducing waste and increasing resource efficiency. This included developing a energy efficiency/low carbon economy development.
Targets were challenging:
• 5% reduction in commercial waste arisings to landfill by 2005 (compared with 1998)
• 200 new environmental management system (EMS) accreditations by 2005
• 1,000 by 2010 (including an element of waste minimisation)
• 8.3% of energy generated in the region to be from renewable sources by 2010
In the East Midlands, SMEs (employing less than 250 people) account for over 95% of businesses and employ 1.4 million (70%) of the total workforce.
SMEs, due to their size and turnover, cannot afford to waste resources and money and are often unaware of the direct impact and responsibility they have with regard to new environmental legislation. Due to their overwhelming presence in the East Midlands region and sensitivity to cost savings, they represent a key target sector for a resource efficiency campaign. Proctors was brought on board to provide communications strategy and creative to support a campaign that drove SMEs to fine out more though Business Link, the EMDA’s support service for businesses in the region.
In order to engage with SMEs and help them realise the savings and efficiencies that could be made, the emda wanted to make it easier and simpler for SMEs to get the resource efficiency support – and to encourage take up of support available. But there were several challenges to overcome.
SME company managers have to deal with multiple issues and are time poor. Resource efficiency/environmental issues and advice providers are viewed as confusing and time consuming and not worth the investment.
What’s more, SMEs are inundated with conventional mail, emails and telephone calls, which are often ignored, regardless of the message or potential benefits. And finally, SMEs view resource efficiency impact as small in relation to large corporations. Finally, most SMEs are unaware of how much their resource consumption costs them or what impact it may have and therefore have not taken much time to address the issue.
The Proctors response
We learnt from EMDA that when SMEs do take action it is typically because of a specific issue or cost where there is an obvious saving. With this in mind, we focused on tangible benefits to the bottom line, and set about creating a campaign that would support the EMDA by catching eyes and provoking interetst – ensuring that SMEs in the area were ‘warmer’ and more keen to talk to EMDA.
The campaign is still in roll-out, but we are hoping that by close-of-campaign at least 6,000 SME representatives will respond to campaign messages in at least one of the following ways:
• call Business Links to find out about resource efficiency advice
• visit the campaign website to find out about resource efficiency advice
• make a booking via the campaign website for Business Links to contact them about resource efficiency advice
• see a presentation about the campaign and approach campaign members to register interest in receiving a call from Business Links about resource efficiency advice
This will result in a minimum 6,000 known campaign respondents to enable Business Link to open dialogues with them regarding resource efficiency advice and diagnose their business needs with regard to resource efficiency. In the longer term, EMDA will work with these businesses to action plans and allocate funding.