In our world of a million distractions, classic selling points like design or price might no longer be enough to sway consumers to your company. It’s become imperative these days for your brand to tell a story and better yet, to stand for something.
With climate change and pollution at the top of many people’s minds, many companies have sought to make their business practices more environmentally friendly not only as a matter of principle but also as a way to leverage their efforts into a marketing device.
Many consumers are looking to buy products that don’t hurt the environment and make them feel like they are contributing to the solution. But just because you change an internal process doesn’t mean consumers know about it. Businesses interested in implementing sustainable practices should explore how those practices can translate into new ways of marketing their products.
It’s not often that changing the way business is done can both lower costs and sell more products. So if you’re in charge of a business that’s looking to do both, try some of these tips below.
Decide what matters
In the past, many businesses developed mission statements that helped them find a true purpose. But most of the time, those mission statements focused on reaching goals, providing products or making customers happy. The same sort of goal-oriented process should be used when trying to embrace sustainable practices. Businesses need to decide what part of being a sustainable business matters most to them, whether it’s reducing waste, conserving water or lowering their carbon footprint.
Shout it from the rooftops
Once this sustainable goal is decided, the next step is letting customers know. Many customers that are interested in buying a product might become swayed in the direction or purchase if they know the business they’re buying something from holds the same values that they do.
Let your customers know when they visit your site about your commitment to sustainable practices, show it on product pages and home page, blog about it, hold events in the community where you and your employees actively work to further your sustainable initiatives. Your customers will start to see that your company is working for motives beyond profits and many will start to build a positive emotional response to your products.
Encourage (some) moderation
No business wants to encourage customers not to buy their products. But not taking more than you need is an important part of sustainability. If a business promotes a message of moderation, it’s a good way to let potential customers know that they’re committed to more than just making profits consistently trend upwards.
A good example of a business encouraging moderation is the outdoor equipment chain R.E.I. As part of a Black Friday marketing campaign, R.E.I. challenged consumers to “Opt Outside” by enjoying the outdoors instead of coming into an R.E.I. store to purchase products. In the short term, this meant fewer sales on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. But over time, more customers started to shop at R.E.I. because they believed the business shared their values. More importantly, the marketing campaign stayed consistent with one of R.E.I.’s core brand beliefs – that the products they sell are not as important as how people chose to use them in experiences with the great outdoors.
Embrace what’s new
On a broader scale, embracing sustainable practices means embracing a different way of doing things. And that definitely translates to overall marketing initiatives. While producing hundreds of paper brochures or plastering the highways with billboards might have been effective ways of marketing in the past, they aren’t necessarily sustainable. And if a business is using sustainability messaging on a medium that isn’t exactly sustainable, consumers will see right through it.
Business should look at ways of reaching new customers that aren’t detrimental to the environment. These ways aren’t exactly few and far between. Learning to effectively use a search engine and digital display advertising are good ways to get a message out without raising a business’s carbon footprint.
While the goal of many of these sustainable marketing initiatives might be to raise sales, it shouldn’t be the ultimate barometer of success. Sure, consumers want to know that the companies they’re purchasing their products from are acting in a responsible way. But those messages of responsibility should be delivered naturally. Any business that seems to overeager to convince consumers that they’re eco-friendly will most likely be seen as a fraud. So stay genuine. Because when you’re genuine, green (of both kinds) will come.
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