Making a difference hasn’t always been easy, but one entrepreneur sought to change that.
Chris Kaiser is a Frankfurt, Germany local who also happens to be CEO and founder of Click a Tree.
He founded his B2B and B2C tree-planting company after witnessing firsthand the suffering that deforestation causes — and through simplified, holistic marketing, Chris has done just that.
It All Started with an Elephant
In 2012, Chris made a major change.
He moved to Thailand to work closely with elephants.
For elephants, their main challenge was (and still is) loss of habitat. Over time, Chris fell in love with the creatures and decided he had to do something about it.
The defining moment centered around an elephant named Baby. When Chris first arrived in Thailand, Baby was just six months old.
“We sort of grew up together. I had never worked with elephants. We were basically best buddies from one minute to the next. Growing up with her, walking through the forest, playing soccer with the coconuts, we had all these unforgettable experiences,” Chris says.
While his background is mostly in tourism, sales, and marketing, Chris knew he had enough knowledge and put it toward a cause he’s passionate about: to make the world a better place.
Baby passed away on her fourth birthday, and it had Chris feeling helpless — but he knew Baby was far from the only elephant in need of help.
Chris says his business idea wasn’t genius. In fact, he says, “Planting trees is not exactly reinventing the wheel. There are tons of people doing it, and people who are good at it, but what they often need is a bit of good marketing, keeping things simple and just getting out of this NGO niche.”
Click a Tree Helps Other Organizations Make Change & Make More Money Doing It
The business model for Click a Tree is twofold.
On one hand, Chris and his team have developed a business model that’s just for consumers. Anyone can go to ClickaTree.com and plant a tree from the comfort of their screen.
Chris adds: “You don’t even need to wear pants while doing it!”
On the other hand, they’re planting trees for businesses. That’s where the real fun is.
Click a Tree’s partners have increased their revenues and profits using their services, and they’re making a real difference while doing it.
It’s a really interesting fusion of capitalism and charity work, one that Chris likes to refer to as “charitilism.”
Chris Kaiser on How He Keeps Marketing Simple
It’s one thing to come up with a concept that’s as cool as Click a Tree. It’s another thing to activate it, implement it and integrate it in full force.
So how do businesses actually develop that partnership and get trees planted in the world’s tropics? Chris says the answer lies in simplicity.
Click a Tree started out working mostly with tourism and travel companies, but they’ve since expanded and are working with partners from fields like astronomy, mobility, beauty, fashion and so much more. Regardless of industry, Chris says the process is simple:
“Most of the time, it works by tying one specific product to planting a tree.”
Say you have a restaurant. You choose one dish, rename that dish to something environmentally friendly like “Food for Future,” and increase the price just a little bit. That price jump accounts for the cost it takes to plant a tree.
Your guests actively choose whether or not they want to do something good for the planet. If they decide, yes, I’ll try it, they’re the ones who picked Food for Future and paid for the tree through their purchase. As a restaurant, you don’t pay anything — your customers do, instead.
If a customer can’t afford to pay the extra fee or isn’t interested by the prospect, they simply don’t buy it. You’re not chasing anyone away or ostracizing your existing customers. You are, however, attracting a ton of new customers. You’re also getting a good chunk of press for it, just by making sustainability so simple.
Chris gives an example of how that press might work:
“If you were to say you’ll plant a tree for every 1,000 podcast downloads, more people would be inclined to share with their friends and say, ‘Look, download this amazing podcast because the more podcasts are downloaded, the more trees are being planted.’ You learn something from listening to this cool podcast and you’re doing something good for the planet. How awesome is that? It’s a win-win for everyone. That’s usually how we tailor these solutions to the partners we work with.”
If ever there were a lesson in the power of simplicity, Chris Kaiser’s Click a Tree integration sure would be it!
As for the work he actually does with clients, most of them send Click a Tree an email once every quarter. They tell Chris how many trees they need planted and then he sends an invoice before starting the planting and nursing process. Once everything’s done, they send a report including the process, GPS coordinates and images. Click a Tree even sends stories of workers, and how their wages helped improve their families’ lives.
Companies can use this packet to promote their engagement with Click a Tree, so it’s a double marketing initiative.
Chris Kaiser Says Marketing Must Be Holistic
Marketing on the basis of greenifying a planet is one thing, but who’s planting those trees? Chris thought of that, too, when making Click a Tree.
Finding reliable partners who actually got trees in the ground was a hurdle that Chris was more than willing to get over. Click a Tree plants most trees in the tropics in part because they grow easier there, but also because they want to provide wages to people who truly need it instead of volunteers.
“We don’t employ volunteers because I think if someone actually goes through this hardship of planting a tree in the ground and nursing it to its growth, these people actually deserve a wage,” says Chris.
Of course, Chris can’t go to the tropics every week from his Germany home just to check on how things are going. But over the course of the last three years, he’s been able to find partners he can trust.
“Now we’ve been able to work with cool teams that are capable of doing stuff, and they’re great at reporting back and telling us what types of trees they planted, as well as why they planted them in certain combinations. They send you amazing images you can send to your clients.”
Click a Tree Isn’t a Sapling Anymore, So What’s Helped Chris Kaiser Achieve Success?
As for what helped Chris get his business to a financially sustainable place, he says there are two things:
“The first thing is just do it. In the beginning, I was trying way too hard to be a perfectionist.”
Chris adds, “The second part was learning.”
At its core, however, Click a Tree kind of markets itself.
They do good things for the world. They fight climate change, which is increasingly necessary. They create habitat for animals, another noble endeavor. And they create jobs for people who really need them, which no one can deny is just plain awesome.
Chris confirms, “That’s all the marketing we need, really.”
Of course, Click a Tree’s actual marketing practices have clearly helped speed things along. By playing to his strengths and outsourcing his weaknesses, Chris has been able to get ahead quicker and influence change.
Green Business Is a Growing Sector, & Chris Kaiser’s Click a Tree Is Ahead of the Curve
2020 brought us a pandemic of epic proportions. For Chris, it’s a bit of a wake up call.
He says we’ve meddled into animal lives and become so entwined with them that we’ve opened ourselves up to the risk of contracting these diseases. Moreso, our climate is changing — rapidly.
He says, “The planet is burning and we need to act, not just make pledges. Just act. Go to ClickaTree.com and plant a tree right now if you like. Or start something yourself. You can change the planet.”Chris recognizes that he hasn’t always been where he is today, and he’s learned just how possible it is to institute positive change from a grassroots level.
“Three years ago, I felt small. I was an employee at some company, which I liked, but three years later I’m running this company. We’ve planted over 100,000 trees together. We have hundreds of amazing partners across the globe.”
Chris reminds us that none of us are too small to make change.
The planet loses 15 billion trees every year, which means Click a Tree may not offset the loss on its own. However, the organization proves linking together is so much more effective than going it alone. Together, we are strong — and good marketing has helped Chris Kaiser prove that through Click a Tree.