Mark Roberts is CEO of Conscious Creatives, a group of like-minded individuals pursuing a greater purpose through our work. Saving the planet by producing branding and digital communications packages that place sustainability at their heart and deliver long-term revenue.
Do you think sustainable marketing should be a part of your business strategy? If not, then read this article.
Incorporating sustainable marketing into your business strategy is no longer an option in today's ever-dynamic business world. This write-up highlights the importance of sustainable marketing and the different ways to counter sustainability challenges.
Sustainable marketing is no longer just a ‘trend’ that companies blindly follow. With the rise in environmental problems globally, society has become more socially responsible. Hence, customers are searching for companies that reflect their values.
For marketers, that means traditional marketing is no longer a viable option. Instead, they need to adopt a sustainable marketing strategy in businesses to make a difference over the competition.
This is a pivotal year in which brands need to move towards the sustainable marketing concept to protect the future of our planet, Earth, and the people living on it.
So, before we proceed further, let me help you understand the sustainable marketing definition.
1. What is sustainable marketing?
Sustainable marketing is all about promoting your company’s sustainable products or services. Now, a product can be termed “sustainable” only if it meets the needs of this generation and the next. In another term
Sustainable marketing is the strategy of promoting environmentally and socially responsible products, practices, and brand values.
So, sustainability is not only about being environmentally friendly. It also includes economic practices and social practices. So, if you think that sustainable marketing is the same as green marketing or environmental marketing, you are wrong.
Unlike other marketing practices, the ultimate objective of sustainable marketing is not to prioritize profit over the planet or other social causes. Instead, it’s all about achieving sustainable gains within the periphery of our world and society.
Now that you have looked at the sustainable marketing definition, in the next section, I will answer the question: “How are companies employing the sustainable marketing concept in their businesses in real life?”
Recommended: 6 Reasons Why New Startups Should Focus on Being Eco-Friendly
2. Popular sustainable marketing documentaries prepared by well-known companies
1. The Game Changers (2019)
Presented by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton, Chris Paul, Novak Djokovic, and James Cameron - this revolutionary documentary film follows an assemblage of high-performance athletes who dispel age-old myths revolving around protein meat and strength.
2. Our Planet (2019)
Experience the richness of our planet and scrutinize how climate change impacts the lives of all living beings in this ambitious British documentary series of spectacular proportions.
3. “Hostile Planet” (2019)
The National Geographic Series, hosted by “Man vs. Wild” adventurer Bear Grylls, diverts our focus towards some of the world’s harsh and most deplorable landscapes and the animals that have adapted to survive in these conditions.
These are some of the popular sustainable marketing documentaries that showcase the importance of sustainable marketing in today’s times. In the next section, I will try to answer a grueling question: “What are the different sustainable marketing principles that companies should follow to make their business a success?”
3. Sustainable marketing principles for small businesses
Building your small business through sustainable marketing by embracing eco-friendly practices isn't just a choice—it's a powerful way to attract conscious consumers and differentiate your brand. With strategic sustainability woven into your marketing, you'll not only reduce costs but also align your business with evolving values.
Capterra recently published a study on how small businesses help understand marketing’s role in sustainability and found that:
- 52% of businesses agreed that sustainability is a critically integrated part of their corporate culture
- Nearly 1/3 of SMBs are facing increasing pressure to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability
- 44% of business’ sustainability efforts are critically supported by marketing
Following are some marketing principles for small business:
a. Consumer-oriented marketing
According to this sustainable marketing principle, companies need to see and organize their marketing activities from the perspective of their consumers. By witnessing the world from the eyes of consumers, the company can create marketing strategies for your small business that aid in creating permanent and sustainable customer relationships.
b. Customer-value marketing
As per the principle of customer-value marketing, companies must set most of their resources into customer value by creating marketing investments. By creating value for the customer, the company can devise online marketing strategies to capture profit from them in return.
c. Innovative marketing
As per this principle, the company should continuously seek to improve at every customer journey stage.
d. Sense of mission marketing
The company needs to define the mission in broad social terms instead of narrow product terms to make it better serve employees, brands, and customers. The company should also be socially responsible and profitable at the same time.
e. Societal marketing
According to this principle, the company should consider the consumer, brand, and social interests.
Now that we have looked at the sustainable marketing principles for small businesses, in the next section, I will address the question, “Why do we need to integrate sustainable marketing into business strategy?”
4. Importance of integrating sustainable marketing in business strategy
Sustainable marketing is essential because a business needs a sustainable marketing concept for our survival as living beings if you see the bigger picture.
The other important factor is that you are dealing with human beings, and there is always an emotional value attached to the surroundings if you are dealing with fellow beings. So these things make sustainable marketing concepts even more critical for businesses that have gone digital, as they can skyrocket your traffic.
Speaking of the first, the economic activities on which life is contingent have a significant impact on the planet and its resources. Therefore, if you do not make the necessary changes in your business, it may result in extensive environmental and socioeconomic consequences.
Today any ambitious company will confront several growing constraints like systems of laws and norms and pressure from customers and investors, all at the same time.
In a business environment that’s developing and changing quickly, one should take a proactive approach based on adaptation and anticipation. One way to counter this situation is by analyzing your marketing strategy and adapting to sustainable marketing.
Unless you want your rivals to overtake your business, you should accept these constraints and assume risks and opportunities.
Now that you have understood the importance of integrating sustainable marketing into your business strategy, the next question that you might have is, “What are sustainable use practices?” I will answer this question in the next section.
5. Things to consider to make your marketing strategy sustainable
Developing a sustainable marketing strategy is not an easy feat. However, the challenge is well worth it. Successful entrepreneurs, leaders, and owners look at problems as opportunities. Now is your chance to embrace sustainability and execute cutting-edge strategies. Here are a few things to get you started.
a. Practice recycling at the workstation
Recycling is excellent because it keeps the trash out of landfills and incinerators. If your workplace does not already have recycling, start doing it today. If your workplace is already recycling, take a moment and read the recycling laws in your area to ensure that you’re doing it correctly.
It’s easy for everyone to become lazy and put the items in the trash bin when they’re at work. The first thing you need to do is have ample recycling bins around your workstation. Label them according to their type. If your city has a composting program, use it to your advantage.
b. Encourage green commuting
Every day.” people squander 2.9 billion gallons of gas stuck in traffic, and each person forfeits $710 in productivity every year. Hence, you need to practice green commuting, which can have a massive impact on daily emissions.
Carpooling, biking, and taking public transportation are all forms of green commuting that can help your employees contribute towards sustainability both in and out of your workplace.
c. Provide remote work opportunities
Remote work is technically another form of green commute as it keeps drivers and cars off the roads. Certain positions do not allow for remote work; however, let your employees take advantage of it if you can get the work done outside of the office. However, some technologies, such as live visual support tools, help reduce work displacements by allowing workers to provide remote assistance from home.
Remote workers have the same impact on the environment as planting trees. For example, they get rid of 3.6 trillion tons of greenhouse gases caused by commuting annually. Working remotely also aids people in avoiding health risks connected with commuting.
d. Go digital
In the age of blockchain technology, several organizations still practice using more paper than necessary. Today, computers, smartphones, and other devices are integrated into your workplace; employ them to the fullest extent and avoid using the form as much as you can.
e. Device, a sustainability committee in the office
Select a team of volunteers who can take responsibility for sustainability initiatives happening in your office. It creates accountability and bolsters a culture of sustainability in the workplace. Moreover, a committee can always pitch in ideas and make decisions to sustain your marketing strategy.
This could involve making the switch to Earthwise Packaging for your products, then encouraging customers to share their unboxings on social media to spread the word, or it could mean focusing efforts on internal waste reduction, which also gets talked about in marketing materials. Whatever the case, giving employees a stake in this process will enhance its success and reach.
So, what do you think - which of the above practices will lead to sustainability? Implement these things that I have suggested above, and it will help you teach sustainable marketing in your business strategy.
In the next section, I will address the next question you will have - “What are the different sustainability challenges, and what are the different ways to overcome them?”
6. Critical challenges in sustainable marketing and how to overcome
Though there are several benefits of practicing sustainable marketing in business, executing these changes can also be challenging. Here are some of the biggest sustainability challenges businesses face and the different ways to overcome them.
a. Dearth of resources
Certain businesses don’t think they have the requisite help, namely time and money, to execute sustainability strategies properly. However, you are hugely mistaken, as you do not need to become a green business all at once. Solar panels, a LEED certificate for building, and sustainability-sourced materials are not the only measures a company can pursue.
You can commence with something small and make reasonable changes, which is better than doing nothing. Once you start cutting down costs, you’ll be better positioned to make more extensive changes.
b. Unco-operative staff
Whether it’s upper management or your employees, it can be tough to execute your sustainability initiatives when people in your organization do not support your ideas and take them seriously.
Try and include everyone’s input when creating initiatives. There will be certain people who might have their ideas or issues with the initiatives. Try and incentivize the initiatives by holding office parties and awards. You can even add gamification to encourage all the employees to participate.
c. Lack of focus or plan
If you do not have a focused plan for sustainability, it can quickly derail your business. So instead, narrow down your focus to one or two key issues that you care about or think will have the most significant impact on society and then start from there.
Your plan needs to include assessing how sustainable initiatives can aid in cutting costs over some time and lead to revenue generation. If you cannot find a profitable strategy, concentrate on the cost-cutting factor. Of course, you can always turn it around by sinking your savings into investments and campaigns that result in profits.
These are some of the critical sustainability challenges and the different ways to overcome them. Finally, in the final section of this write-up, I will address an important question that you might have, “What has led to the emergence of sustainable marketing practice in business strategy?”
7. Key growth drivers of sustainable marketing
Specific growth drivers have led to the prominence of sustainable marketing in business strategy.
- The social responsibility market has seen a steep rise. Today, consumers are more concerned about what products are with, where they come from, and how companies will provide services for the products sold.
- The ever-increasing need to improve competitiveness and consumer loyalty has changed dramatically with the growing demand for sustainable products.
- Big corporate brands have requested their suppliers to become socially and environmentally responsible.
- Public policies and regulations are asking for more sustainable practices and processes.
- There has been an evident scarcity of natural resources, resulting in their increased prices, which are mandating companies to research alternative solutions.
With the help of sustainable marketing campaigns, companies can focus on the social and environmental obligations of the market. With its help, the key players are trying to strike a balance between conducting business through responsible marketing practices by encouraging a more eco-friendly and better consumption system.
Today even big brands have started to create more sustainable products and services. However, this has led to a drastic change in marketing practices, accommodating new developments around “sustainability."
Of course, I do not mean to say that you should stop pursuing developments that are relevant to your business. However, thinking about society at large, like switching to renewable power sources, can do wonders as a whole.
You need to promote products that are more environmentally friendly or fairer in terms of social-economic level. Sustainable marketing campaigns can even go beyond their established niches to cast a wider net. Brands can launch a more comprehensive marketing net, unconventionally target customers, and convert them into more responsible consumers.
So this is all about sustainability marketing in business strategy. So, what do you think: Should sustainable marketing be a part of your business strategy?
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