A new way to market (and realize) the benefits of sustainability

September 1, 2017

A business can enjoy the benefits of sustainability while helping the planetCompanies exploring how to improve brand image may be tempted to simply highlight the benefits of sustainability as reflected in their products (or services). But how effective is this approach to actually gaining new customers? Or helping the environment?

According to an article published by BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), marketing sustainability should be more nuanced and engaging.

From the article

Just as selling a drink isn’t all about selling the taste, selling sustainability isn’t all about saving the planet.

Highlighting sustainability, as well as the attributes of a company’s products or services, can lead to more positive public image while also promoting sales. It’s a marketing marriage of social and tangible benefits. The article offers three new ways to approach marketing sustainability using traditional methods.

Sustainability can be a value add—but it’s not the only value

After all, bookshelves made from reclaimed lumber may be good for the environment, but you’d better be able to say how well they hold books if you hope to make any sales. Marketing should focus on how the product benefits the customer, as well as society. There’s nothing wrong with improving the profit part of your company’s triple bottom line, while also helping people and the planet.

Making sustainability fun can lead to greater engagement

For example, if you’re trying to promote recycling, a receptacle painted like a can-eating monster (playing pre-recorded munching noises with every deposit) will likely attract more attention and use than a standard blue bin painted with bullet points about the importance of protecting the environment. According to BSR, customer behavior can be improved with this type of “unexpected moment of joy.” Engagement translates to action.

Brand image can be improved by helping others become sustainable

Internal corporate sustainability goals are great, but BSR found brand image is enhanced even more when an organization helps others achieve greener lifestyles. As noted in the article, this can be as simple as using a company blog or...

...social media posts that encouraged consumers to recycle by explaining how recycling can reduce landfill waste and by giving them do-it-yourself ideas such as using empty containers as planters.

As the shift to buying more sustainable products continues, marketers have an opportunity to have an impact that goes beyond selling. Sustainability should be promoted through the subtle application of traditional marketing efforts, calls for social action and the support of green goals that stretch beyond the board room. It’s an approach that can lead to greener profits and a greener world... all while serving your organization's triple bottom line.

 

Related links:

What’s the best renewable energy for you?

How to build a compelling case for energy efficiency programs in 8 steps

Forecast says there may never be a better time to invest in commercial solar

INFOGRAPHIC: The triple bottom line: a sustainable model for success

How sustainability in business can improve your brand reputation—and bottom line

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