Strategy: Setting the Foundation
It all starts with a solid strategy. Consider the full, lifetime, environmental, social, and governance impact of your business or organization and develop a plan to reduce its impact over time. Once you’ve developed an incredible roadmap, based on existing best practices and commitments of leaders in the field, you’ll be ready to start sharing it. Provide updates as you go through the process, whether your audience is made up of other businesses, students, constituents, or consumers. These updates will lead to additional interest in your plan and provide an avenue to garner earned media.
Marketing: Sharing Your Story
You can’t stand out from the pack without a robust, multi-channel marketing plan, no matter how sustainable your business is. If your marketing efforts are currently an afterthought, take the time needed to form a comprehensive approach. Marketing your business or product as a sustainable choice requires understanding current trends and where the market is moving. For consumers to connect with your brand, they need to understand why it’s better and how their purchase benefits the planet, their community, and the world. Transparency is truly the key. It’s okay to admit to your sustainability failures because combined with sharing successes you will connect on a deeper level with your customers and gain a more loyal following. Consumers want to see the receipts and compare them to the goalposts you set in your overarching sustainability strategy. Incorporating Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) best practices will lead to more viral content and is something we employ with clients as a first step to improve their marketing outcomes.
Consumer Demand: Meet the Moment
There is a growing body of evidence composed of surveys and studies that show that consumers in the US value sustainability and will vote with their dollars. As long as they know that a more sustainable alternative exists, 56% of them are willing to spend a bit more on the product or service. According to a 2020 study by CGS, 51% of consumers in the US rate sustainability as important. That’s a large share of the total market! Align your sustainability strategy closely with the results found in these surveys and studies specific to your industry.
Verification: Show the Receipts
Consider third-party verifications that come along with certifications or corporate structures like benefit corporations (we’re proud to be a certified B-Corp and offer support to other businesses going through the process), certified Green Businesses, Fair Trade certified producers, etc. It means a lot to show some or all of your sustainability claims have been verified by an unbiased party. To get started and learn a bit more check out our article on the “The Steps Before the Sustainability Framework”.
Best Practice Sharing
No “Chief Sustainability Officer” (CSO) on staff? No problem. Fortunately, in every business sector, there are existing sustainability leaders that have shared sage advice through conferences, white papers, and affinity groups/certification networks. There is no better time to start reaching out to collaborators and competitors alike to find out if they are willing to share their successes and failures. There are also firms like ours that specialize in providing the services of the CSO for your business/institution so you don’t have to hire one internally.
Before you get started on promoting your sustainability success, we’d love to talk through your plan at no cost. It helps us understand how we can help better. Contact us for a no-fee consult.