The Greentech Story: Can Simple and Specific Coexist?

As my passion for green technology grows, I find myself on two constant storytelling quests: 1) help my green clients tell their stories in the most compelling ways possible and 2) learn about new technologies (and learn more about existing technologies) from the ways other companies tell their stories.  What I've found is that the market is so crowded, it has brought entirely new meaning to the word "concise." How do you convey the green message simply, yet still differentiate your company's technology from all the others? I came across this video the other day from a startup called Hara that takes an overly simplistic approach.  The video is short and simple and tells me that Hara can help me "discover, plan, act and innovate" in order to "know my impact and change the world." But how, exactly, does it do that? And perhaps that is the point -- be vague enough in the video that viewers must go to the Web site to learn more.  However, viewers only have so much time.  Will they take the next step? How do we find the right balance between simple and specific (without becoming a snooze-fest)?

To compare, I took a look at landing pages for other energy efficiency companies and carbon footprint management software providers.   EnerNOC offers information about demand response that is simple, but also a bit more specific: "Thousands of facilities in our network get paid for reducing their energy usage during periods of peak demand, while our utility customers get access to clean, reliable capacity where and when it is needed most."  I get a sense for the exact benefits to expect from the solution. Comverge stays a bit more high level: "Our 'pay-for-performance' programs provide capacity that can reduce emissions, eliminate line losses, increase reliability, and defer generation and transmission acquisition."  Of course each Web site does have a solution drill-down that goes into specifics, but they nave to be sure to hold their audience long enough to get them to that drill-down.  Like the greentech market itself, telling the greentech story is complex, and I certainly don't know the perfect approach.  But one thing I think holds true across industries is the value of anecdotes -- real stories from real people demonstrate value better than any company description can.

So, as the greentech storybook grows ever longer and each new startup adds a new chapter, I try to cut through the clutter by looking for how real people talk about using the software.  It all comes back to "show, don't tell," as my 7th grade writing teacher used to tell me.  Don't show me a video of the challenges our world faces; show me a video of a real person using your software to overcome those challenges.  If you have a story about how a green technology has worked for you, I'd love to hear it. 

Contributed by Susan Wise.  Follow her @swise.