Earth Day Turns 45

Tomorrow, April 22nd , is Earth Day and the 45th anniversary of what is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

Earth Day was founded by Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after he witnessed the destruction caused by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Senator Nelson proposed a “national teach-in on the environment” and enlisted colleagues and members of the community to support the initiative. On April 22, 1970 over 20 million Americans in cities across the nation participated in rallies for a healthy, sustainable environment.

The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

In 1990 Earth Day went global with over 200 million people in 141 countries participating in the movement. Recycling efforts became a worldwide focus as did pollution prevention.

In 1995 President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, for his role as Earth Day founder.

This year, 192 countries will take part in Earth Day events and educational programs. Dade Paper will be participating in Celebrate Earth Day at the Orlando International Airport. Organized by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, this event provides an opportunity for airport staff, passengers, and members of the community to learn about sustainability initiatives at the airport. Our team members will be on hand to answer questions about green cleaning and sustainable foodservice packaging.

Founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day, the Earth Day Network (EDN) also promotes year-round environmental citizenship around the globe. To learn more, visit their website at earthday.org.

The Value Beyond ROI

Companies in the United States invest $20 billion a year on sales training programs.   Yet many believe they are not getting an acceptable ROI.  Expenses include travel, meeting production, meals and activities, not to mention time out of the field for all employees involved.  That is a big commitment of a company’s resources. Considering that only 50% of the learning content is retained after 5 weeks and as little as 16% is retained after 90 days, you may ask “Why do it at all?”

Maybe the issue lies in that the expectations for these training programs are off target?  Of course most managers will tell you that sales training should lead to higher and more profitable sales.  And, yes, that is true.  But there is something different that can be gained from live training programs that will ultimately payoff in improved results.  Let me take you back a few weeks to explain.

Recently, Dade Paper hosted a training program for a group of our new sales consultants.   We brought them in from various regions of the country and spent 4 days presenting a great deal of information.  The agenda was aggressive.  But while we had them as a captive audience, we wanted to cover as much subject matter as possible.  All of the information was important from company history to standard operating procedures, to sales programs, etc.  It would have been hard to edit the agenda and leave material out.

By the third day, I started to feel like we had pushed the limit of what could be absorbed in a one week.  The attendees were looking a little shell-shocked and our team of presenters was drinking a lot of coffee.   Those aforementioned learning retention statistics were looming in my brain.  We loaded up USB drives with all of the material presented including slide decks, PDFs, templates, and even a glossary of Dade Paper-isms.   If the attendees could refer back to the material as needed, that would help mitigate the information overload.

On the last day we surveyed the attendees for their feedback.  It was while reading their comments that the true ROI became apparent.  What this group took home was not just information gleaned from series of presentations and a UBS drive in their pocket. It was a sense of belonging and the understanding that our company is invested in their personal success and professional development.  In the days that followed, we received additional emails and hand-written notes thanking us for the experience.  The value was in the human connections made, the motivation sparked, the engagement with our company’s culture and the expansion of our dedicated team.

The attendees may not remember all of the company statistics, processes or sales materials we presented.  But I am fairly certain they will remember how they felt about having a place in our family and being a valued member of our team.

One Marketer’s Journey into the World of Content

I am launching Dade Paper’s content marketing hub this week and I’m pretty darn excited about it.  I became interested in content marketing a while back, finding myself reading blogs, articles, and white papers as well as enjoying the trend of infographics, how-to videos, and other solution-oriented material.  I became convinced that this style of communication was going to be increasingly important for B2B sales organizations and it was time to join in the conversation.  

 

At the time, Dade Paper had a great deal of traditional customer-facing sales content.  We had dozens of quality sales-collateral pieces, a catalog, a website, a even a few segment-specific micro-sites.  An audit of these assets cataloged 50 unique items.  But what was missing was a well-thought out solution-oriented content marketing plan. How could our organization provide more value to our customers by providing helpful information?

 

Not being one to jump into the deep end of anything, yet excited by the prospect of expanding our marketing reach, I created a timeline mapping out the steps to take in preparation for adding this style of communication to our portfolio.   

 

One important step was to learn more about what makes content marketing useful, discoverable, sharable and therefore successful.  I found myself reading and viewing a lot of content about, well, content.  The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.  I followed content marketing experts, like Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute.  I read lots of books and articles on the subject and thought carefully about how best to develop, curate and share content for Dade Paper’s stakeholders.  There is an overwhelming amount of information out there on this topic.  Google it and you’ll see what I mean.

 

I spoke, quite enthusiastically, with my colleagues in sales management about the plan.  I explained what content marketing is, and what its not, and how it would supplement our traditional features and benefits marketing.  I talked about how we could assemble content from within our own organization by tapping into the knowledge base we have within our own experienced team members.  Then we could curate and share that information with our customers, employees, and beyond.   They were supportive! Let’s hope they are still supportive when I tap them to contribute to the editorial calendar for this coming year.

 

One of the first new pieces of content I worked on was an infographic about our company, designed to introduce our capabilities to potential customers.   Just the basic information presented in a one-page visual.  I worked with the folks at InfoNewt and came up with the Dade Paper At-A-Glance Infographic.  This was a completely different way of telling the Dade Paper story.  It resonated well with some of my colleagues but some were unsure of this new icon-based representation of our story. I believe in the infographic format and look forward to working on more data visualizations in the coming year and proving the value of visual.    

 

My next target for content acquisition was our supplier partners.  As a distributor, we partner with world-class, global manufacturing organizations to sell their products to end-users.  They all have libraries of well-researched and professionally-designed content.  We sell their products, why not share their content?  So far, this has revealed a treasure trove of valuable material.  

 

The foodservice and janitorial industries also have professional associations and niche publishers that serve the industry members with thoughtfully written pieces.  More great sources!  What was becoming quite clear was that Dade Paper could become an aggregator of high-quality content and that we could act as editor and curator in addition to a producer. 

 

My next challenge was how to present the meaningful content I had started to assemble to our, hopefully, hungry-for-information audience.  I wanted everything to present well on both a desk-top monitor as well as a mobile device.  I wanted the content to be discoverable, shareable and most of all, helpful. There are a few options such as LinkedIn and WordPress that would meet some of our needs, but not all.  Then I came across the hub platform.  A content hub is a website that connects various inputs such as blog posts, tweets, PDFs, white papers, videos, infographics, RSS feeds, etc. in one dashboard.  

 

That takes us up to the present.  I have assembled Phase 1 of Dade Paper’s hub and posted it online.  There is more work to be done, more content to develop and curate, and adjustments to be made based on user engagement and feedback.  I hope you will visit Dade Paper’s hub at www.dadepaperhub.com and take a look around.  Check out the material, share the content you like with your network, comment and ask questions.  One of our goals for this project is to start conversations that are relevant to our stakeholders.  Your feedback is welcome and encouraged!

 

Thanks for reading my first blog post.  Over and out for now from The Paper Trail.

-Laura Craven, Director of Communications for Dade Paper