Green Business is Good Business
Being a sustainable business and marketing yourself as such can give your company a competitive edge by allowing you to attract eco-conscious customers and employees. On the customer front, a 2020 study by IBM found that 77% of consumers say it’s at least moderately important that brands are environmentally responsible.
In terms of attracting and retaining talent, the data is similarly promising. According to Inc and the Cone Communications Millennial Employee Study, three-quarters of the U.S. workforce will be Millennials by 2025, and 64% of these Millennials won’t take a job if their employer doesn’t have a strong Corporate Social Responsibility policy. Additionally, 83% of Millennials say they would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.
And while the eco-conscious demographic is making waves now, this is just the beginning of a widespread, long-term trend. As urgency around the climate crisis builds and Gen-Z becomes a significant consumer and employee demographic, the demand for companies that are sustainable is expected to sky-rocket.
Simply put, there has never been a better time to advertise your company as a sustainable business. This article will outline marketing tactics your business can use to effectively attract eco-conscious customers and employees. Gaining support from this growing eco-conscious demographic will help your company thrive in the socially responsible economy of the future.
Marketing Tactics for Sustainable Businesses
- Focus on key environmental issues that are important in your industry
- Create a page dedicated to sustainability on your website
- Become green business certified and display it
- Share your sustainability journey
- Make sustainability a theme on company social media channels
- Show customers the impact they make by choosing your company
- Avoid greenwashing in your marketing
1. Focus On Key Environmental Issues That Are Important In Your Industry
When marketing your sustainable business, the most impactful metrics to bring up are those explaining how your company is addressing the problems that are most pressing in your industry. Take a renewable energy company for example. What would be more relevant for them to advertise: The amount of internal food waste they compost? Or how many tons of carbon emissions they avoid through their services?
The ‘avoided carbon emissions’ stance is more impactful and persuasive because it’s the very reason why one picks a renewable energy provider over a traditional utilities company: Customers want to lower their fossil fuel dependency and carbon footprint.
Focusing on your industry’s most important environmental and social issues also allows you to clearly differentiate your company from competitors.
Now, if the hypothetical company was instead an eco-conscious restaurant, the “composting” sell would probably work better in their advertising. This is because in the restaurant industry, food waste is a far more pressing environmental issue than carbon emissions from operations alone.
While companies should limit all facets of their environmental impact, when it comes to advertising, showcasing your efforts to address issues specific to your industry will help you stand out against your competitors.
2. Create A Page Dedicated To Sustainability On Your Website
If an eco-conscious online user visits your website, it’s likely that the first place they’ll click on is your ‘About Us’ page in order to learn about your company’s values and purpose.
Impress online visitors by having an attractive, meaningful page dedicated to your sustainability mission and goals. If you already have a ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ page, then be sure to create a section exclusively for your sustainability efforts so visitors understand how you’re limiting your environmental impact. Some main points on your sustainability page could be:
- Your company’s green mission statement. For tips, read “How To Create The Perfect Green Mission Statement”.
- Your company’s short- and long-term sustainability goals.
- Your company’s sustainability accomplishments. Adding supporting images enhances your achievements and gives users a better understanding of your good work.
- Partnerships and projects with other purpose-driven organizations
Creating a designated sustainability page ensures that online users (and potential new customers and employees) can see your purpose and progress, and that environmental responsibility is a core value in your company.
3. Become Green Business Certified and Display It
The most credible way to show your commitment is by earning a sustainability or green business certification and showcasing it in your marketing. Most third-party sustainability certifications come with a verified “seal of approval” which can be incorporated into your website, ads, building, vehicles, and other marketing materials. Displaying your certification is significant in that it reflects your trustworthiness and credibility to your stakeholders.
There are various sustainability certifications out there and the value of each one really depends on your company’s needs and abilities. Green Business Bureau’s online, guided certification program, for instance, is perfect for businesses of all sizes and industries who want to target a variety of green initiatives, work at their own pace and avoid expensive consultant fees.
4. Share Your Sustainability Journey
It’s easy for discussions around sustainability to be “doom-and-gloom” given the truth about climate change and how little companies are working to fix it. While giving the straight facts is important and can certainly grab attention, using a bleak tone in marketing to persuade people to buy your product or support your company rarely works. Taking a more aspirational, encouraging approach can be more effective in rallying people to take action.
One way to do this is by sharing the steps, big and small, that you’ve taken to grow as a green business. Sharing your unique sustainability journey reflects honesty and allows your stakeholders to get to know the real you. By highlighting your trials and success, it can also inspire other businesses to take action to be better too.
You can promote your sustainability journey through social media, a newsletter, outreach events and other marketing channels and opportunities. Show prospects the strides you’ve taken and invite them to join you on your journey toward sustainability. For tips on how to best tell your company’s sustainable story, check out Green Business Bureau’s, ”How To Tell Your Sustainability Story to the World and Earn the Benefits of Being a Green Business”.
5. Make Sustainability A Theme On Company Social Media Channels
Social media has become an integral part of business marketing over the last decade. Globally, 53.6% of the world’s population uses social media and that includes people in developing nations where the impacts of climate change hit the hardest.
Additionally, as younger demographics are more likely to both use social media and care about the environmental and social causes, sharing your company’s environmental stance on social media will surely help you attract new followers and potential customers and employees.
Some tactics to make sustainability a theme on your social media include:
- Routinely post about your green achievements, projects and goals.
- Share interesting articles and resources about topics relevant to your business and industry.
- Adding your green mission statement and core values to your profile bio and link to your website’s sustainability page.
- Feature your green team or sustainability leader.
- Update the progress your company is making toward its short- and long-term environmental goals
- Use easy-to-read typography, images and other aesthetic features that relate to your sustainability mission.
6. Show Customers The Impact They Make By Choosing Your Company
More consumers want to do business with sustainable, ethical companies which serves as a great leverage point for your business. An effective way to market your product or service to these customers is by showing them how much of a difference their purchase is making in concrete terms. The apparel company TenTree, for example, does an excellent job of this. As the name implies, for every item TenTree sells, they plant ten trees. TenTree, whose products are made from sustainable fabrics, also includes metrics on how much waste, CO2 and water is saved through customers’ purchases.
By showing the direct impact that a purchase has on the environment, this gives an incentive for customers to support your business and your mission.
7. Avoid Greenwashing In Your Marketing
While marketing your company’s sustainability is important for stating your purpose, growing sales and attracting the right customers and employees, be careful not to overstate the positive impact your company is having on the environment.
Greenwashing is when companies make misleading or unsupported claims about their eco-friendliness. It can also refer to companies that are being environmentally responsible in some aspects of their business but irresponsible in others. For example, if a company markets that they are working to reduce their carbon emissions while simultaneously polluting waterways in their production, this is greenwashing. Greenwashing can sometimes be easy to detect and those who are aware aren’t afraid to call companies out for their false claims, often having a detrimental impact on a company’s reputation.
You can avoid greenwashing your marketing efforts by:
- Working to make sustainability central to every aspect of your business operations.
- Earning a third-party verified green business certification and displaying your certification seal on all marketing materials.
- Ensuring you have hard evidence to support all claims of your sustainability performance and making such data available to stakeholders.
- Not offering products and services with “hidden tradeoffs” (Example: A product that is compostable but produces 4x more CO2 in production than the alternative).
- Ensuring your suppliers are also operating sustainably and ethically.
- Working with other sustainable, reputable organizations.
Conclusion: Sustainable Business Marketing Makes A Big Difference
Environmental and social awareness is rapidly increasing as people – especially the passionate younger generations – become exposed to and educated on the world’s greatest issues. Leverage this trend by using tried-and-true marketing tactics for your green business. By following the 7 tactics mentioned in this article, you will not only set your company apart from competitors and attract new prospects, but you’ll build a company that you and your employees are proud of, one that is honest and good.
About The Author
GBB Green Ambassador
Dylan West is a content creator for the Green Business Bureau who is passionate about the pursuit of a better future through sustainable business. He is currently working toward an undergraduate degree in Business Management from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Outside of his professional life, Dylan enjoys playing sports and exploring the natural splendor that surrounds his home in Vancouver.