Why we all need to promote wool

Ever since I was working in the wool industry while at the IWTO as well as working as a consultant, I heard wool industry members say again and again that ‘we need to promote wool more’ or ‘we have failed to promote wool more’.

We need to promote wool more – who is we?

It was never made clear who this “WE” to promote wool more was in particular, but clearly there was an expectation that it had to be done by someone.  This call for more promotion was expressed in working groups as well as in a huge number of presentations held throughout the many IWTO Congresses I attended. If you listen to some of the presentations of the digital IWTO Congress 2020, you can even find this call for action again and again expressed by the speakers.

Why are we not promoting wool enough?

Of course, as a communications and marketing professional, I could not agree more. Obviously to me, communicating regularly and clearly about wool is of utmost importance. However, this repeated call to action left me wondering, why do we keep saying that we need to promote wool more but clearly nobody is doing enough of it, otherwise this claim would eventually become obsolete? If it is clear what needs to be done, why isn’t anybody doing anything about it?

Don’t get me wrong, I think many wool industry organisations around the world are doing a great job of promoting wool. Woolmark, IWTO, American Wool, British Wool just to name a few. Also, many growers, manufacturing companies and brands are active in promoting wool and are doing a fantastic job (in my humble opinion).

But despite all of this communications, the claim persists that we need to do more to promote wool.

So I am beginning to wonder. Could it be that the expression ‘We need to promote wool more’ is similar to the expression of ‘I need to do more sports’ or ‘I need to go on a diet’? Is it a matter of wanting a certain outcome but not really wanting to put in all the effort, time and money? Truth be told, communicating (or promoting something) does take some effort of defining a strategy and implementing it effectively. Are we not willing to put in the work?

An alternative reason why we are not doing more to promote wool could be that we remember the good old times. Have we not yet fully accepted the change of time and still vividly remember the times where we had the International Wool Secretariat with huge advertising budgets promoting wool through adverts in fashion magazines, billboards and tv? Do we still hold the expectation that our wool industry bodies are responsible for promoting our fibre? Are we putting the responsibility only in their shoes? If that were the case then we again don’t seem to be willing to put in the effort needed as our industry bodies are notoriously understaffed and underbudgeted to get the job done to meet our high expectations.

Everybody needs to promote wool

But even if we were to fund our industry bodies more generously, times have changed. What I mean by that is that promotion and communications are done in a very different way today compared to what it used to be. In the world we live in today, every one of us needs to communicate about wool, it is everyone’s job.

Communications guru Gary Vaynerchuk came up with the message that  ‘Every business today is a media company besides being the business or product they are specialised in’. We no longer need printing press, large billboards or gatekeepers such as journalists or newspapers to get our message out there. With the internet and the different social media platforms that exist, we operate in a world where it has never been easier and cheaper for each and every one of us to communicate about wool and about our industry. The only challenge remains: We need to do it.

There are already many wonderful examples out there of businesses who are promoting our fibre and our industry online.

Just like the sporting equipment and the diet plans are available, so are the tools to promote our beautiful wool fibre. Every each and one of us is accountable for putting in the effort to reach our collective goal of making our fibre better known.

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