With this, vertical solution provider MECOMS wants to surprise its customers and prospects from the energy and utility sector. Five hundred trees, in cuttings of forty centimeters high, will be shipped shortly. “Good for twenty kilos of compensated CO² per adult tree”, educates senior marketing consultant Michel Delvaux us enthusiastically. “The thought behind it? The lasting relationship that we want to develop with each of our partners.”
“We started out with a seed and ended up with a tree,” Delvaux says with a smile. “It sounds a bit Bible-like, but that is how it really went. Because our first idea was to send our customers a seed of a sunflower. We wanted something different than the obligatory annual gift, which would just end up in the trash can. There, we thought of something interactive. A living gift that could symbolize the lasting relationship that we want to develop with our customers and prospects.”
A sunflower seed was our initial plan. However, a sunflower unfortunately grows and blooms only once. Not so terribly sustainable, the MECOMS idea makers thought. “Thus we started looking for something that would be more long-lasting and that naturally already contained more aspects of sustainability. This is how we logically ended up at a tree. Not just another tree, but one that also produces fruit. Customers who plant their cuttings can later literally reap the benefits of the relationship they have entered into with us. Yes, we have thought deeply about this”, Delvaux winks.
WATCH ME GROW
It will be a gift the way you like to open them on your birthday: a fancily wrapped box with the treasure inside as well as a lot of nice attributes: a nutrition tablet, a small shovel and a few accessories to professionally get the sprout into the ground, a manual which tells you how to plant and care for the tree, and last but not least a message: “Let’s work on the future together. We deliver the tree, you provide the H2O.” And then to finish it with a rhyme: “Like our cooperation, watch me grow.”
It is precisely that last sentence that says what it is all about. Nowadays too many relationships, certainly in a commercial context, act as disposable items, according to MECOMS. “When we enter into a relationship, we hope that it will last for a long time. We will also do everything we can to nurture, maintain, water, weed, provide light and air to that relationship. With this gift, we want to make clear to our customers and prospects: we want to work with you as a partner, as a relationship that we respect and cherish. Not from a superficial customer-supplier relationship.”
WATER CARRIERS FOR THE CAMPAIGN
It is not illogical that the MECOMS campaign in a first phase focuses on the water companies that belong to their customers or prospects. “For us, they are the standard bearers for our initiative,” says Delvaux. “They bring the ideal raw material of all life to families at home or to companies. Water is their specialty. And what do our trees need more than anything? Indeed. The core of our message: we give you the tree, you provide water, hopefully we can make something grow together. So we give it a kickstart, but we also ask for something in return. Namely that our customers get involved in the idea of sustainability. The tree that we send them is a symbol of mutual commitment. In our opinion, there is no better way to imagine a close partnership.”
Sustainability is about human values, acting with respect and creating products that are resistant to the future.
ROOTS IN THE ENERGY INDUSTRY
MECOMS has companies in its customer portfolio that belong to the energy and utilities sectors worldwide. Today MECOMS – as a partner of Microsoft – builds customized software solutions for the utility sector. The company also offers services such as consultancy and training. “In fact, we provide solutions for the entire meter-to-cash chain,” explains Delvaux. “We work for both the producer and the transporter who brings the energy to the homes and the supplier who sends the invoice. In other words: we deliver our services both to the wind farm and the nuclear power plant and to the Fluviuses and Electrabels of this world. Our software platform MECOMS 365 is precisely tailored to that sector.”
FIGHTING FOR A CLEAN IMAGE
Delvaux does not want to deny that precisely this sector is often under attack when it comes to sustainability and environmental awareness. “Energy and utility companies do indeed have a double-sided image. On the one hand, our customers want to be the showcase for sustainable living and future-oriented thinking. Many save no effort or expense for this. On the other hand, many energy companies are still fighting their difficult reputation in terms of ecology and sustainability.”
“Nevertheless, we see that many of our customers are seriously concerned with the subject,” Delvaux continues. “Everyone in the sector realizes that something has to be done, so companies are constantly looking for initiatives to score good points around that topic. They make genuine efforts to work sustainably. We also want to signal that to the outside world with our actions.”
MORE THAN “PLASTIC WITH PLASTIC” AND “CARDBOARD WITH CARDBOARD”
“Sustainability is something we want to promote strongly from our own company,” says Delvaux. “Like many companies, we pay attention to our paper consumption and actively raise awareness among employees to sort their waste. We also make loan bicycles available to our employees, so that they can occasionally leave their car at home. Are we going to save the world with such initiatives? No, but it’s the little things that add up.”
Moreover, sustainability is a much broader concept, Delvaux notes. “It’s about human values, acting respectfully and creating products that can withstand time. As an IT provider, we can do quite a few things in that regard. First and foremost in the relationship with our customers. But also by making our own applications as sustainable as possible. Among other things by ensuring that our systems work as accurately as possible. This saves time, money and unnecessary printing. Or take, for example, the mobile workforce that we manage with our application: our system calculates the optimal route for our customers to get their technical intervention teams to their destination. Better for the customer, better for the planet.”
“We also build our solutions completely modular. Customers can select the components they need or add certain extras. If their needs change, it won’t be necessary for them to have their entire landscape converted. This, too, is sustainable collaboration.”
A SEED WITH THE AMBITION OF A FOREST
So it started as a seed. That seed became a tree. A tree that should ultimately become a big forest, at least that’s what the marketing manager hopes for. “With this campaign we are focusing on Belgium, the Netherlands and Great Britain. We now have around 500 trees ready to ship to our contacts. Whoever receives a tree can read a registration code on the packaging, a kind of unique ID for that particular plant. Via the URL www.treely.eu people can register the location where they put their tree in the ground. This helps get a nice overview of where all the trees are planted. There is also a calculation of how much CO² the trees process together.”
Wouldn’t it be great to plant at least a thousand trees? That gives a total of 20 tons of CO² that we can offset together with our customer relationships.
To give an estimate: according to research, a mature tree would compensate for about 20 kilos of CO². “But a tree has so many other positive properties to offer to the environment and climate. Just think of combating soil erosion, the biodiversity that trees harbor, the rainwater they absorb, the cooling they offer, the vital effect on our health… We explain importance of that in the intro video on our website.”
20 tons of CO²
If the formula is successful, MECOMS would like to expand the initiative. “We would also like to send a tree to our customers in other countries if there is an interest. And we also want to write to our IT partners with the request to participate in our project. In this way they can in turn deliver trees to their customers. How beautiful would that be, to see our forest expand further and further?”, Delvaux continues to dream.
How large should that forest become? “Gosh, I haven’t really thought about that. But now that you mentioned it, it would be great to put a number on it. What would you say about a minimum of a thousand trees? That gives a total of 20 tons of CO² that we can offset together with our customer relationships. What do you think of that? ”Deal, no doubt.
You can find our original article (in Dutch) at Bloovi.be