Green baby products start-up gDiapers is growing up, thanks to a virtual army of 27,000-plus supporters.
I recently caught up with CEO Jason Graham-Nye for a glimpse into this social media success story. Here's why his nappies are coming up daisies.
Cloth or disposable? GDiapers has turned a new answer to this decades-long conundrum into a booming business. Today, earth mothers around the world can choose a diapering solution that combines environmental responsibility and convenience. The beauty of gDiapers lies in the empowerment of its customers. By educating consumers on their options to flush, compost or toss, the company gives buyers room to do as much for the environment as they choose.
From high engagement to high sales, gDiapers' marketing approach is hitting all the marks. Here's a glimpse into CEO Jason Graham-Nye's strategy for escalating customer engagement while increasing environmental and social wellbeing:
Anna Clark: GDiapers is the first consumer product of any kind to receive the prestigious Cradle-to-Cradle design certification. How did you decide to pursue that?
Jason Graham-Nye: In 2004, we thought green credentials were critical. The University of Oregon found that 95 percent of products are greenwashed (as described in the Greenwashing Index). We had a technical director early on and found that William McDonough's group MBDC was the best. The process really went deep, evaluating our upstream suppliers and their suppliers. They were very willing. All data was exchanged between MBDC and our suppliers so nobody was scared off. When we got upgraded to silver, we worked with our manufacturing partner in Ohio, influencing this larger company to go 100 percent renewable. We're proud of that.
AC: What was it like working with MBDC?
JG: Fascinating. Michael and Bill are like a pair of brilliant mad scientists.
AC: What other certifications do you look at?
JG: The number of marketing scams is terrible. C2C is very respectable. I think B Corp is also very interesting. It's a big deal for a company to say we're going to change our articles of incorporation. That requires board-level commitment.
AC: Virtually all of your company's marketing unfolds online, much of it through word-of- mouth. How do you do it?
JG: We rode two waves: online retail and the onset of social media. We didn't have a store attached to our site when we first launched, but today our biggest customers include Amazon.com and Walmart.com. We've found online a bigger part of our business than even Whole Foods, possibly due to the fact that online allows for more explanation and education.
As for social media, some of our early customers became so engaged that they found a way to create a community even before Twitter and Facebook. One customer offered to moderate a Yahoo user group that grew to 7,000 people. Another customer offered to do a demo at a mother's group. These people have even volunteered for trade shows. They exhibit a huge level of passion.
AC: To what extent have mommy bloggers helped you share your story?
JG: A ton. Our Facebook community numbers over 27,000. The true believers have been enormously important for us. We have customers who willingly do customer service for us.
AC: Is your focus on Facebook over Twitter intentional?
JG: Facebook is a much richer experience. We have focused more on this. I think it's because we're a consumer product. We automated our Facebook wall to go straight to Twitter. Both our Twitter and Facebook pages feed into our customer service software, SalesForce.com, so we can make sure to stay close to our customers.