Once, companies and brands touting their ethically-sourced ingredients and environmental values found themselves in the minority. This “feel-good” messaging remained the primary language of homespun business owners. And they sold rustic wares at farmers’ markets. But today it pays to be “green” in a very big way. And the size and scope of your business makes no difference in this regard.
Consumers increasingly get turned off by products or services perceived to be wasteful or harmful to the environment. So right now your company should start thinking about sustainability. And include sustainability-related messages in your marketing. You’ll find it easy to adopt an environmentally-friendly image if you sell artisanal organic snack food. But what if your business operates in a B2B vertical? Here your environmental impact and sustainability efforts become less obvious?
But it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Your business likely undertakes some form of sustainability initiative or another already.
- Do you offer e-billing to your customers so you can reduce paper waste?
- Does your physical plant participate in a local recycling program?
- Do you use recycled paper products for your shipping/packaging needs?
- Does your business go above and beyond to engage in ethical supply chain and sustainable sourcing of your products?
- Do you get your energy from renewable sources?
It doesn’t matter if these measures are also good for you bottom line. You should include any of these sustainability efforts in your marketing messages too.
You won’t find sustainability to be the most glamorous part of your business. But you can probably find some examples already in place. And you must publicize these examples whenever possible. In many cases, you could probably take at least a few of your company’s existing environmental practices and protocols and showcase them. Use them show a commitment to environmental sustainability on your website and other promotional materials.
But do you want to put your money where your mouth is?
You can always cut a check and donate to a worthy environmental cause. And publicize the donation! Perhaps your company can find a closely related environmental charity to which you can donate. Or become a sponsor of local organizations in your community.
For example, if you sell fishing poles, maybe you could donate money to an organization or government agency that helps protect freshwater resources. You could also team up with an environmental organization to fund a special event that encourages natural resource conservation and raises awareness in your own community.
Your company could collect a percentage of sales from a certain product and then give that money to a local group that promotes environmental stewardship. Cash donations are a tangible way for you to do some good for the environment, while also bolstering your company’s image in the eyes of the public.
The generosity of your financial gift can help offset some of the environmental impact of your business, and it’s a great way to make inroads with environmentally-conscious consumers.
Why Should You Practice Sustainability?
The “why” in the discussion of sustainability is just as important as the “how.”
For example, let’s say that your company has just installed a few new solar panels on the roof of its headquarters. That’s great! You’ll save some money on your energy bill each month, but try to think about what you would tell your customers in a press release or a blog post: “We want clean air and value healthy communities, so in order to reduce the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels we are now sourcing more of our energy from alternative forms of energy.”
People are much more inclined to get excited about these overtures – and more excited to support your business – if you can find a way to include them. Sustainability is a profoundly complex and important issue. Virtually every aspect of how we live and work will continue to evolve as the demand for natural resources continues to rise.
Many consumers are eager to support businesses that are embracing the challenges of the present and anticipating the changing needs of the future. Demonstrating to your customers that your business is forward-thinking about how you conduct your operations to minimize impact on the environment is a great way to show that you’re a forward-thinking, innovative company in other aspects.
Progressive sustainability is not just good for marketing, it’s good for business and it’s good for people, too.