Sustainable marketing should be an integral part of your marketing plan. It is more than just another buzzword or passing fancy that can tick a social responsibility box. This is a decision to fundamentally change the way you choose to communicate with your customer. It could be merely a decision to go paperless or a commitment to use reusable exhibition stands. It might be to use white hat strategies to maintain communications with a customer, or not.
However, a genuine commitment to sustainability comes from the heart of your business and will be a consistent story through your brand. It is unlikely to be the occasional discount on sustainable products but instead woven throughout your marketing strategy.
Successful integration of sustainability into your marketing is essential to all good businesses. You communicate the ethical inclination of your brand in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world.
Sustainable marketing is also about considering how every touchpoint impacts on the consumer and the environment. If you want to build a community around your brand, then you are going to have to appear to care sincerely. Take the stereotypical image of the used car salesman and look to act oppositely – and you have a sustainable marketing strategy.
Sustainable marketing has proven to have a higher conversion rate. However, it is not a strategy that will have an immediate return on your investment but will be a commitment to consumer loyalty that secures the future of your business. This is the difference between building a brand and closing a sale.
People are your bottom line. They offer a level of social equity for your company. Therefore, providing a policy of transparency and reliability will improve your brand. Part of this will be investing in your human resources. Your data from your HR needs to communicate that you are kind to your people and you embrace diversity and equality – offering fairness.
The planet is also an essential element of your brand. You need to show a commitment to such aspects as carbon offsetting. You may also want to tie into the UN Sustainable Development Goals if you are a larger company. You may even want to consider Global Initiative reports to their required non-financial reporting. You need to communicate to your market somehow that you commit to the planet.
Of course, profit is also essential to your bottom line. A healthy bottom line is required in good business; this should not be done at the expense of the role of the company in the community. You will want to be a driver for change in people’s lives rather than a greedy organisation seeking only to better itself.
Your first step would be to engage in activities that would demonstrate your sustainable credentials. For instance, you could undertake a beach clean in your local area or a litter pick – looking to collect as much plastic and keeping it out of the environment. Your team will bond during the effort, and you will be seen as doing a service to your local community.
You can choose renewable energy and marketing this as a commitment to the effort to turn around climate change. Exploring how to switch supplier is a simple but effective project.
Your marketing would also be considered sustainable if you listened to your market before talking. For instance, there is a considerable concern in the workforce about the impact of stress and depression. Therefore, prompting your desire to honour work-life balance could be a successful way to suggest you are ethical and desirable of a sustainable approach to business.
Once you have decided on your strategy, you need to tell this story to your community. Your marketing plan should look at how you can continue the ethical approach for showing you are ethical. In other words, your representation of your actions should be honest and reliable and demonstrate your commitment to the people who buy your service or product.
James Birch is the sales and marketing manager at Colour Graphics. He is an expert in quality printed marketing materials
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