First Steps

I think all of us have something in our lives we’d like to make better or improve. The question is how do we get started in changing things? Is it some special formula, organizational system, motivational technique or coaching camp? No, I think it’s far simpler than all that: the answer, which you’ve heard before, goes “every journey begins with the first step.” You just have to get started. As an old friend use to say, “the hardest part about going for a jog is just getting out the front door.” I think he’s right.

This “first step” seems to have great implications for those of us who are marketeers. While certainly no guarantee of success, getting someone to consider a product or service first begins with the person figuring out they have a problem, or what I sometimes call “an itch to scratch.” Without an itch there is no reason to begin the effort to find a way to scratch it. Without an itch we don’t see offers, notice advertisements, see related concepts in our lives, ask our friends and colleagues about their experiences or even do the coveted Google search. Without an itch, we never take the first step.

The “first step” concept I also believe is at work when it comes to sustainability and corporate America. While these folks have a very, very long way to go; just taking the first step, if nothing else, makes the second and later steps far easier.

I have to admit I must remind myself of this potential windfall when I visit some of the bigger retailers who have “caught the green bug.” As I walk their apparel isles I see a World Bazaar of which none of the clothing is made in the U.S. and often where the items sharing a rack are from different continents. And all I can think is how sustainable, from a green perspective, is this sort of business model? Should everything we consume/buy, including clothes, adhere to the 250-mile rule as well?

I visit the restroom at one of the most responsibly sustainable retailers I know and notice they don’t use low-water (or no water) consuming fixtures. They hand out plastic bags, have automatic opening doors and still carefully light many of their departments to increase the appeal of their products. And do we really need 30” of paper to document our itemized list of things we just bought?

While we have a long way to go, you see once you get the itch you take the first step and from there it can get pretty slippery. People are finding that itch when it comes to stewardship of our environment. It is real, and needs to be scratched. I am confident all of this will get fixed; everywhere I shop, work and travel. It is already happening. And it all started with the first step.