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We talk neuroscience with Ruth Smith, Founder of Sustainable Results Lab

Green Tech South West is delighted to welcome Ruth Smith, Director and Founder of Sustainable Results Lab. As so many of our GTSW community are working on climate based or purpose-led initiatives, we’ve invited Ruth to help us unlock the marketing and communications secrets used by top companies for implementation on Tuesday 15th March. 

Ruth will look at: 

  • How to apply the latest learnings from neuroscience and behavioural economics to improve your marketing and communications 
  • How to overcome the inherent barriers in people’s brains when it comes to communicating complex green tech products and services 
  • How to use the neuroscience of storytelling to forge a stronger connection with your audience 

Ruth founded the Sustainable Results Lab to bring world-class digital marketing to the environmental sector.  She’s held multi-million-pound P&L responsibility at a top-performing FTSE 100 company, where she launched new digital products and turned around a failing brand. Her background as an award-winning editor put her at the forefront of developing multi-media content to grow audiences and revenue. 

What led you to founding Sustainable Results Lab?  And how is it going? 

Ruth:  The climate emergency means we need sustainable businesses to be the most successful. So, I wanted to use my skills to boost the business growth of green tech businesses to help build a zero-carbon economy.  

It’s a huge privilege to support businesses in this space. For example, we’ve just finished some customer research on the barriers to making buildings more sustainable. From this, we’ve developed a customer outreach campaign that supports everyone involved in retrofitting to overcome the challenges they are facing.  

I love using behavioural insights to make value-based marketing and communications more effective. 

How did you become interested in neuroscience and behavioural economics? 

Ruth:  I studied social anthropology at the London School of Economics. I still remember reading The Gift by French sociologist Marcel Mauss, which is about how the exchange of objects builds relationships between humans. I’ve never looked at a gift in the same way since; I’m always wondering what the hidden meaning is!  

But it taught me to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand what’s driving their behaviour.  

Ultimately the science of decision making – understanding why people make the decisions they do – is all about gaining empathy for others. 

When you link this to economics, you get a brilliant intellectual framework for thinking differently about business growth and political change.  

To succeed in building a net-zero economy we need these insights more than ever. 

Why can it be so tough to communicate Green Tech products and services to people? 

Ruth:  Our brains prefer to engage with information we find easy to understand, so the complexity of the solutions can make it hard to communicate green tech products and services.  

Also, our “flight or fright” response leads to us avoid things that make us anxious – and you can’t avoid the fact that the climate emergency is anxiety-inducing.  

So, communicating a complex product that tackles the climate emergency means overcoming these inherent barriers in our brains.  

The good news is that insights from neuroscience and behavioural economics give us easy-to-implement ways to overcome this.  

What mistakes are businesses making when trying to reach a wider audience with their products? 

Ruth: The biggest mistake I see is not putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and bamboozling them with complexity.  

If you start with the problems and challenges your target audience is grappling with, you can do so much more to support them. Small changes such as how you structure a sentence or describe your products can make a big difference here. 

How do you help businesses to prove they’re not greenwashing? 

Ruth: Sustainable Results Lab has an ethical screening policy, so we turn down work from any business we suspect of greenwashing. Ultimately, it’s all about integrity – greenwashing is about conning your customers, which isn’t a sustainable business practice.  

Thank you Ruth for the chat.  

Ruth will take the virtual stage at our meetup on Tuesday 15th of March at 12.30pm. Head over to the meetup page to RSVP for free.