How to Market Your Sustainable Business
Want to make your company a little more environmentally friendly? Here's how to do it without sacrificing sales.
If you want your business to be more sustainable, you need to market effectively. Whether bringing to market an eco-friendly product, forging innovation within your manufacturing process to reduce environmental impact, or providing services that allow your customer to reduce their own environmental footprint, your marketing should properly sell the benefit you bring both to the earth and your customer.
As with all marketing, one size does not fit all. However, there are a handful of considerations that will help you reach your customers and drive them to action. It's imperative you do so, as even the greatest idea in business is worthless if you are unable to communicate it and provide value to your customers.
Know your customers.
Not all products or services are created equal, and the audiences they appeal to will certainly vary in age, location, culture, tastes, values and more. That's why it is imperative to know your customers and what moves them.
When promoting sustainable products or services, first identify what aspects of your offering will most appeal to your customers. Figure out exactly why environmental responsibility matters to them.
Do they want to limit the negative impacts for our human health? Do they want to preserve vital plant and animal species? Protect the environment for future generations?
Only after you have determined why sustainability matters to your customers will you be able to craft an effective message to drive them to action. This message should be emphasized across all marketing channels.
Additionally, make sure you know which information channels your customers use. This will help you ensure that the message you have taken so much effort to craft is actually received.
Create a custom plan.
Marketing is all about standing apart from the crowd. Don't use a formula -- if you do, you essentially mimic your competitors, with a message that gets lost in the crowd and fails to showcase the value of your product or service.
Instead, maximize the effectiveness of your marketing effort by creating a custom plan for your campaign. Search for unique vehicles to promote your original message. Look for sustainability-focused events, co-promotional partnerships, content providers and social media opportunities that align with your offering, message and audience. In essence, devise a marketing strategy that speaks to your customers across the channels they prefer, with a message that will move them. In doing so, you increase the odds of making an impression on your customers and catalyzing them to buy what you are selling.
Tie in a real world issue
Sustainable offerings, by their very nature, address current concerns about the environment. Innovators often devise and employ them specifically to provide an answer to environmental pollution, disruption or destruction.
When marketing green in business, don't shy away from tying your offering directly to the environmental issue it addresses. Position it as a solution to the problem. Bolster your argument with current research by credible third-party sources, using that research to frame the argument you make and explain why your offering helps protect the environment and the customer.
Market value vs. price
Delivering sustainable products and processes may come at a higher price to you and your customers. As I explored in Why Environmental Responsibility is Good for Your Bottom Line, this may not always be the case and should be explored. Regardless of added cost or not, marketing the value brought by sustainability will likely make a greater impact on environmentally minded customers than marketing price.
Emphasize all environmental benefits in your marketing. And, if additional non-environmentally focused value is provided through your offering, that should also be heavily emphasized. Not every potential customer is going to be swayed by environmental benefits.
Sustainability in business is a huge positive for the environment and many will appreciate that. Take care to market your offering well, and you'll likely surpass your competition and make a real impression that moves your customers into action.
Doug Kramer is president and CEO of Lapolla industries, a Texas-based building products company. In 2014, Kramer pushed the company to be the first globally in his sector to eliminate ozone depletion and reduce global warming potential (two issues faced by all competitors in the space) from the Lapolla’s product line via an aggressive reengineering of the chemistry of those products.