GREEN Marketing can be GOOD – for the environment and FOR BUSINESS
Back in the 80’s greed was good, arguably fuelling the economic growth of the 90’s and ‘Noughties’. Here in the second decade of the third millennium, sustainability is the new business imperative as you, your customers and your prospects take stock of diminishing energy resources and recognise how important it is to consider the long term environmental effects of your actions for the sake of the planet and future generations.
In the big picture, environmental concerns are global in scope. The sustainability issue affects us all – socially, economically, at home and in the workplace. Businesses are responding proactively across all their activities. No area is immune, including marketing.
Using green issues to generate profit may seem exploitative, but we live in a World driven by profit, so we need to reconcile business imperatives with our personal feelings and recognise that sustainable marketing strategy can be distinctly good for business – helping you attract more customers, grow and ultimately be more profitable. Marketing Managers should also take heart from the fact that small improvements add up to make a big difference.
What is sustainable marketing?
Business in the Community suggests that sustainable marketing ‘is about what you market – creating brands and businesses fit for the future – and the way in which you market – providing, clear, relevant information and campaigns to create both profit and positive societal change.’
On top of product or service innovation, it involves communicating effectively and helping influence customer behaviour to be more sustainable too.
Why you should market sustainably…
Although you could take the view that marketing has played its part in creating habits that are now recognised to be unsustainable, sustainable marketing, according to Business in the Community, can be ‘part of the solution, making new alternatives desirable and mainstream.’
Moreover, influencing customer behaviour can fuel a number of business benefits: brand personality – differentiation within the marketplace – and increased market share to name but two.
Here are a few more ways in which sustainable marketing can boost your edge:
“Like attracts like”
Social responsibility is something businesses are taking more seriously because, in the face of tough times – recession, increasing globalisation, greater competition – the bottom line is that early adopters will establish dominance. Start now; get a lead over the competition and revenue wise, it’ll stand you in good stead.
It’s also good PR: companies that follow a green agenda, or environmental directives, promoting the values of sustainability and encouraging environmental best practice (directly in their activity and indirectly in their marketing or advertising) will be more attractive to like minded customers. Green means ‘Go’ when it comes to widening your customer base with those who share your ethics.
“Up close, it’s personal”
A YouGov survey of more than 2000 UK adults revealed that 73 per cent consider sustainable living important. Remember that every business buyer is a person – psychologically and socially we all have different motivations – so personal opinions will inevitably influence business decisions.
Sustainable marketing will, according to Reference for Business, have great sway with those who share your business’ desire to, ‘satisfy human needs and desires while preserving the integrity of the natural environment’.
“Out with the old, in with the new”
While the stalwarts of mainstream marketing will always have their place, many of the new, sustainable marketing activities actually work better than older, traditional methods. Take the growing prominence of digital marketing – it’s easy on trees, highly effective when it comes to pulling in results, and traditional marketing just can’t match e-activity and social media when it comes to speed, reducing costs and obtaining almost instantaneous feedback.
“Green engages and motivates”
If your employees buy in to the ethics of your company, it has to be good for business. ‘Reference for Business’ Encyclopaedia for Business, 2nd Edition suggests that ‘Many young people entering the workforce today exhibit greater social concerns than those of ten years ago, and many wish to join firms perceived to be making a positive contribution to society.’
Irrespective of age, it stands to reason that employees who approve of your environmental stance will be more motivated, loyal and inclined to uphold your values.
Shout your sustainability story
Good news is worth sharing but you’d be surprised at how many businesses fail to effectively communicate their sustainability efforts, to their customers and internally.
Strong sustainability messages should be carried across your marketing and communications – tell people what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and make sure the information is easy to digest and easy to find (not hidden somewhere in the depths of your website!)
Conversing with and engaging customers and stakeholders in your sustainability efforts will create alignment between your actions and your marketing message. It could win you greater approval, and may even prompt the other party to consider moving towards a more sustainable future too.
Practicing what we preach
Of course AdStorm would be in no position to give businesses advice on marketing sustainability without ensuring that we too are being proactive in paving out our own sustainability pathway.
We’d like to think we’re pretty good on the basics – recycling materials in the office, switching off lights, turning down radiators and unplugging equipment when not in use to help save energy and fuel costs.
Whenever appropriate, we invite clients to teleconference with us rather than meet up face to face (though we understand that every business is fundamentally about people, and the importance of the personal touch in building relationships).
Our e-newsletters and white papers are all electronic, so you can feel free to sign up conscience free.
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Digital marketing is one of our fortes – so we’re well placed to advise you on how to make the newest and most sustainable communications platforms work hard to your advantage. When it has to be print, we do our best to recommend recycled stock and come up with formats that waste less paper, with no compromise to the quality or creativity of the project.
Why not take your first step by joining the 2000 strong throng of UK businesses in the Prince’s Mayday Network, committed to collectively taking action on climate change and resource depletion. It’s all about working together towards a more sustainable future – joining is voluntary and you can find out more at www.maydaynetwork.com
If you’d like to make your marketing more sustainable, we’d love to help.
Contact us by phone, email or let’s arrange a teleconference.