2020 year in review: Marketing

Sumner Byrne
February 2, 2021

Keeping connected, digitally

For those of us in the marketing and communications field, 2020 was truly the year of digital marketing. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say “communicating, digitally.” For the GBCI marketing team, the first step in doing so was bolstering our digital communications to ensure that our community felt supported and connected during this uncertain time.

Our social media strategy was one based in consistency, increasing our cadence across all accounts and providing a mixture of useful resources related to COVID-19, project and leadership celebrations, upcoming digital event opportunities to stay connected and relevant news and education for the market. Through a steady, increased cadence of educational materials, resources and project celebrations, we aimed to provide followers with an informed and reassuring voice that could help guide their own sustainability ventures and emphasized the ways that GBCI was implementing USGBC’s new vision of healthy people, in healthy places equals a healthy economy.

In the spirit of consistent communications, we launched a monthly newsletter for GBCI, TRUE, SITES and Arc that provides a snapshot of the latest program updates, project and leadership highlights, tips, upcoming events, relevant news and a direct address from program leaders so that followers could stay connected to the programs they most cared about. Through these newsletters we were able to spread the message of USGBC’s new vision and GBCI’s role in supporting this, and these newsletters quickly became some of our best performing emails across the board.

Connecting live, virtually

In response to the pandemic, we made the decision to transition all our events for the year to a digital setting and GBCI kicked off our 2020 virtual town hall series in June. Our President & CEO Mahesh Ramanujam and other program leaders shared our strategy for the TRUE, SITES and RELi programs and our GBCI credentials. These events garnered 1,600 registrants from around the world who tuned in for exclusive access to leadership and a chance to ask their most pressing questions, educating attendees on the heart of these programs and celebrating the projects and leaders who have long championed them.

These GBCI program town halls were also interspersed with live international town halls. Seven town halls brought Mahesh and regional leaders digitally face-to-face with GBCI customers in India, Latin America and the Middle East, garnering more than 2,800 registrants. These events shined the spotlight on local leaders and projects, whose stories were celebrated again over social media in the weeks following the event. It also provided opportunities to discuss the resources available and to encourage new avenues of GBCI program implementation.

Promoting the GBCI rating systems

Through a suite of nearly 10 certification programs and 15 professional credentials and certificates, GBCI is covering all facets of the sustainability industry and addressing the vast spectrum of issues affecting our customers. In 2020, these programs had the unique opportunity to provide highly targeted advice for projects, businesses and professionals looking to continue their work safely during COVID-19.

TRUE had a busy year, kicking off with the launch of TRUE for Events, which lays a strong foundation for waste reduction and the implementation of zero waste practices at post-COVID events. TRUE leaders were featured in 18 articles on both the TRUE website and through our Living Standard campaign, tying zero waste to personal stories, and announcing the TRUE-specific Safety First resources which implement COVID-19 policies. TRUE also hit a major milestone with 1,000 TRUE Advisors across the globe and the marketing team celebrated their contributions and leadership through several mediums.

PEER devoted the year’s marketing efforts to case studies and 15 articles that examine PEER’s effects on power systems in India, China, the United States and more. PEER’s uniquely international audience benefits from resources that span the gamut, in terms of the power infrastructure that varies dramatically by country. With the launch of the PEER Pro badge and Stakeholder Report, shared via email and social media, PEER begins 2021 with multiple resources that provide unique pathways for those invested to get involved.

The SITES Community Call series in 2020 allowed us to connect with customers and celebrate projects and leaders spearheading the adoption of sustainable landscapes. With 15 articles that provided expert thought leadership and project highlights from across the world, SITES spent the year uplifting their community. SITES also introduced Safety First pilot credits and resources to help projects address COVID-19. And through the addition of SITES Community Partners, a new campaign that provides organizations promoting SITES with the opportunity to join a network of similar leaders, we have a new opportunity to highlight the good work and leadership of SITES stakeholders.

RELI was introduced to the GBCI community in 2020 with a full set of resources and we look forward to telling the stories of the early adopters of RELi in 2021.

Sustainability Excellence Credentials
Developed by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), the Sustainability Excellence Associate (SEA) and Sustainability Excellence (SEP) professional credentials help organizations and communities of all types integrate sustainability best practice throughout business operations. GBCI is now responsible for administering these and the marketing team launched these credentials to our audience through a social, email and digital marketing campaign in collaboration with ISSP. These new credentials will provide an additional pathway to sustainable business professionals and enthusiasts, ensuring that we get one step closer to implementing a healthy economy through the leadership of sustainability credential holders. The marketing team is excited to support this program’s growth in 2021 and encouraged by the fact that the Sustainability Excellence Credential page of the GBCI website became the third most visited page of the entire website in 2020.

A strong close to the year

The world looks to GBCI for its green business certification needs. In 2020, our overarching strategy was to make this position clear, while sharing how GBCI supports and advances USGBC’s mission by implementing LEED. We also highlighted and clarified how GBCI’s suite of certification programs and credentials support our community's unique needs and work in tandem with LEED.

On December 1, GBCI launched a confident, guiding and sincere new brand identity that highlights our commitment to a resilient, equitable and regenerative future — a future where every person has a higher purpose powered by an unequivocal access to a higher standard of living. We stand ready to support our customers and projects in 2021 and beyond as they seek to rebuild in a post-pandemic world.