A recent study showed that 88% of all consumers say they would like businesses to help them live more ethically and sustainably. Since sustainability is such a crucial part of a buyer’s purchasing decision, it’s essential to create and distribute sustainable marketing materials that catch the attention of your target audience and guide them toward the end of the sales funnel.
In this article, we’re going to focus on the following topics:
What Is Sustainable Marketing?
Sustainable marketing is a marketing strategy that companies use to promote their eco-friendly products, services, and practices. While nonprofits and sustainability-rooted companies naturally promote the concept of sustainability, there are many marketing practices that non-sustainability-rooted businesses can follow to attract potential customers. Overall, sustainable marketing aims to emphasize a company’s mission and values rather than the products or services they offer.
While the terms “green marketing” and “sustainable marketing” are commonly used interchangeably, they are different. Green marketing specifically focuses on marketing campaigns and strategies that strive to promote environmental awareness and protection. On the other hand, sustainable marketing is more of an umbrella term because, in addition to environmental impact, sustainable marketing campaigns also include measures your business takes to promote social responsibility.
For example, if your commercial cleaning company uses green cleaning products that are safe for animal and environmental health, this would be an excellent green marketing opportunity. On the other hand, if a portion of your company’s annual revenue is donated to underserved schools in the community, this would be an example of a sustainable marketing opportunity.
Sustainable Marketing Principles for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses
As you think about how to approach your sustainable marketing materials, it’s essential to keep these five principles in mind:
- Consumer-oriented marketing: This principle encourages your business to develop sustainable marketing materials based on the perspective of your target market.
- Customer-value marketing: This principle supports the idea of creating content that is meaningful and influential for your target market.
- Innovative marketing: As you create sustainable marketing materials, make sure they support each stage of the buyer’s journey. Each piece of marketing material should guide a prospect through the sales funnel.
- Sense of mission marketing: This principle allows your company to define your sustainability mission and values in broad terms. Your sustainable marketing materials should be easily digestible by your target market.
- Societal marketing: This principle supports the idea that your sustainable marketing materials should matter to your target audience and their interests. When deciding on a social or environmental cause to prioritize, make it logical to your industry and target market.
Why Is Sustainable Marketing Important?
In the 2020 IBM study on consumer behavior, research revealed that when millennials look into different businesses to work with, they’re most interested in their sustainability efforts. In addition, baby boomers and Gen Xers strongly consider a company’s social and environmental impact when choosing a brand.
Today, consumers prioritize a brand’s social and environmental impact more than ever before. Here are some of the most significant benefits of sustainable marketing materials:
Supports Long-Term Impact
Above all, the goal of sustainable marketing is to provide long-term impact. When you develop sustainable marketing materials for your business, you’re striving to change the world and how we go about our lives. By creating and distributing sustainable marketing materials, you’re also setting future generations up for success because you’re enhancing the environment they live in. In return, they will continue to do the same with their businesses.
Boosts Company Reputation
When your company aligns with strong social and environmental missions and values, you boost your company’s reputation in the community and industry. Without sustainable marketing efforts, people see businesses for exactly what they are—businesses. As you integrate sustainability into your overall business strategy, your company becomes so much more than just another enterprise to invest their time and money into. In addition to investing in your business, they’re investing in the community and generations to come.
Encourages Prospects To Connect With Your Brand
Sustainable marketing materials are great for supporting a person’s connection with your brand. If your company partners with an organization that is significant for your target audience, a potential customer may feel more inclined to work with your business because you share the same or similar values. The work you do with the local organization could be what converts the potential customer from a lead into a loyal customer.
Helps Your Business Stand Out Among Competitors
Many B2B businesses share the same product or service offerings, making it difficult to stand out among competitors. With sustainable marketing materials, you can do just that. Integrating sustainable marketing materials into your business strategy gives you the opportunity to show prospects that you’re more than just another company trying to grow its clientele. By promoting your company’s sustainability efforts, you increase the likelihood of a potential customer remembering your business.
How To Plan a Sustainability-Focused Business Strategy
Developing and integrating a sustainable marketing strategy isn’t as simple as it may seem. Before you launch your sustainability-focused marketing strategy, it’s important to remember the following:
Think Beyond Your Business
While most marketing and business strategies follow similar pathways, the sustainability approach should look different. Most B2B companies measure their success through numbers: number of clients they have, how much money is generated, and so on. However, when you launch sustainability marketing practices, it’s essential to look at the bigger picture.
A sustainability marketing program’s success simply cannot be measured by a number because it’s something so much larger than profit. When done properly, a sustainable marketing and business strategy can be rewarding as it builds credibility, trust and strengthens relationships with consumers. While the efforts may not be immediately recognized in the annual report, over time, your customer’s loyalty will make up for the immediate ROI.
Once you launch your business and marketing strategy, consider what your business has gained. Do you see a spike in new customers? Is your retention rate higher than before you launched your sustainable marketing materials? When implementation managers speak with onboarding clients (and customer success reps meet with long-term customers), consider asking them why they chose to partner with your company. In addition, ask them why they continue to stay loyal to your business. This can allow you and your team to gain more insight into why the relationship has been successful thus far and if your company’s sustainability efforts have had an effect on the relationship.
When you’re strategizing your company’s sustainable marketing products, make sure your mission and vision are clear so your audience can understand them. In addition, your company’s sustainability practices should correlate with the industry you serve.
For example, if you’re a construction company that wants to promote your sustainability efforts, consider making more of your project materials recyclable and non-toxic. This could include your paints, insulation, adhesives, and more.
While many B2B businesses decide on sustainable marketing initiatives just to have something, it’s crucial that it makes sense to your company, target audience, and the region you serve. This adds much more value to your business’s mission and vision and makes your brand more trustworthy.
Marketing your sustainability efforts is all about building long-lasting value for the environment and your community. A common mistake that many B2B businesses make is constantly looking for an immediate return on investments. For example, when companies invest in Google or social media ads, they want to see results as soon as possible. However, with sustainable marketing materials, the approach is much different.
As you promote your sustainable marketing efforts, it’s essential to use these values to nurture relationships with leads throughout their buyer’s journey and after they convert into customers. When you promote your sustainability, it’s vital to start sharing information about it in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. This allows you to start your relationship on the right foot and sets your company apart from competitors.
If your sales and business development reps are cold calling prospects, make sure they introduce your company with sustainability efforts in mind. For example, let’s suggest that a prospect wants to repave their parking lot, but they’re now considering their paving options. Every paving company can repave a parking lot, but what makes your company’s approach different? Your reps can pitch how your company’s cement is made with recycled glass and thick rubber from used tires during this stage. This can differentiate your business from competing paving businesses.
While marketing in and of itself is customer-oriented, this specifically matters when pitching your sustainable marketing materials. Traditional marketing strategies encourage B2B businesses to focus on the products or services they offer. However, the problem is that most companies in the same industry provide very similar benefits, which is why a sustainable marketing and business strategy is crucial to stand apart from competitors.
When creating sustainable marketing materials, make sure they align with the interests of your target audience. This could be centered around the region you serve or the industry itself. For example, if you’re pitching local businesses in a small town, highlight the organizations you partner with in the area. This could resonate with potential buyers in that region.
Let’s suggest that the small community you’re pitching is passionate about supporting underserved schools in the area. In that case, you could center your business’s sustainability efforts around a portion of your profits going toward school resources. In addition, your business could donate books and classroom materials to teachers and students throughout the year.
Stay Authentic—Avoid Greenwashing
When developing sustainable marketing materials, it’s crucial to stay authentic without greenwashing. Greenwashing is when a business spends too much time highlighting its sustainability efforts than the business itself.
While promoting your company’s sustainability efforts is crucial, it’s important not to overdo it. This could be perceived as inauthentic and could reflect negatively on your company. When developing sustainable marketing content, make sure you look at it through a holistic lens. Sustainable marketing materials should be used to build your product, service, and business, not diminish it.
When you decide which sustainability effort to align your company with, make it meaningful to your business, industry, and target audience. Sustainable business strategies should not be a marketing ploy but something you work to achieve every day. In addition, your sustainable marketing strategy should be attainable and measurable throughout the year. When a sustainable marketing goal is set too high, it can reflect poorly on the company.
Companies That Prioritize Social and Environmental Sustainability
Sustainable marketing isn’t a new concept. It’s been around forever, and many companies have been very successful with their sustainable marketing efforts. Here are some of the top tech enterprises that effectively promote their sustainability efforts:
Salesforce strives to develop new technologies that enhance relationships between companies and customers. In 2018, they declared that they are creating new technologies that reduce carbon emissions across all economic sectors.
When Salesforce announced their new sustainability efforts, they also mentioned that they are striving to achieve the following goals:
- Partner with suppliers to reduce carbon emissions
- Integrate green building practices into their facilities
- Host environmental innovation seminars
As an innovative leader in technology, Google seeks to promote sustainability by following these green initiatives:
- Powering buildings with renewable energy sources
- Hosting local farmers markets and sustainable cooking seminars
Google has developed a great reputation for being an eco-friendly company and is one of the most forward thinking and innovative organizations in the world.
When possible, Microsoft creates products made from recycled and reused materials. By 2023, Microsoft aims to run 70% of its massive data centers on renewable energy sources. In addition, the tech company aims to be carbon negative by 2030 and remove any of its historical carbon emissions by 2050.
Since consumers value social and environmental sustainability from B2B companies, it’s essential to integrate sustainable marketing materials into your overall business strategy. Sustainable marketing practices provide many benefits to the world, your business, and your target market. However, it’s vital to develop your sustainable marketing plan strategically without greenwashing.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our sales reps and digital marketing specialists help B2B companies pitch and create sustainable marketing materials to guide each prospect toward the end of their buyer’s journey. When you’re ready to promote your company’s sustainability efforts, contact your lead generation partners at Abstrakt Marketing Group!
Want to Learn More?
Get In Touch