Is green marketing the missing link for your small business? Here’s what it is, why you need it, and how these 5 strategies will put your growing company on the map this year.
The verdict is in – customers want companies who put the environment first. In fact, two-thirds of North Americans prefer eco-friendly brands, and there’s growing demand for sustainable products, services and packaging.
This is a competitive edge that you need to know more about. Every future-focused business should incorporate eco-marketing into their growth strategy, to keep up with consumer demand.
Here’s everything you need to know about green marketing, and how to make it an on-going part of your small business. These 5 sustainable strategies will get you off to a running start.
A Crash Course on Sustainable Business
It’s 2020, and we live in an age of climate change.
More than 97% of climate scientists have confirmed that the climate is changing, to our detriment. The world has arrived here because of humanity’s negative environmental impact. A prolonged greenhouse effect from natural resource depletion and pollution has triggered global warming.
We caused the climate crisis. Natural disasters, spreading disease, animal and marine life going extinct – these are all by-products of a world that didn’t consider the ecological cost of business.
As a direct result – business changed – and purpose-driven companies were born. Now you can grow faster, by being a force for good in the world.
This is what sustainable business is all about. It combines environmental sustainability and social responsibility with your business model, to create something that generates money, and helps people at the same time.
With 62% of executives believing that having a green strategy is necessary to be a competitive business, you can see an immediate benefit by embracing more sustainable practices today.
What is Green Marketing?
Green marketing is a type of promotion that your business will use to attract and retain customers, while advancing sustainability as a culture, and a practice.
Nike and Adidas do this by creating shoes out of recycled materials. Toyota, does it by innovating in the energy efficiency niche.
By focusing on the environmental benefits of your business, you create demand. This usually means highlighting how your products or services benefit the environment or society as a whole.
Be wary and avoid ‘greenwashing.’ It’s when a company claims to be environmentally responsible, but in reality, it isn’t. Because eco-aware sells, many businesses have made claims that simply aren’t true. If your small business is going to be sustainable, make sure that you do it right.
Why Build Sustainability into Your Business?
An eco-friendly brand is what consumers want. A Futerra study revealed that 96% of people feel that their actions can make a difference. That means when they choose a company that focuses on sustainability, they are choosing to help you, help the environment.
There are other reasons for investing in ecological marketing too.
- You get to actually help the environment
- Be seen as a progressive, forward-thinking brand
- Instantly become more likable and trustworthy
- Attract an eco-friendly buying public willing to spend more to be ethical
- It’s an amazing way to differentiate your business from competition
- Make strong connections with other sustainability companies
- Be on the forefront of product demand and rapid growth
Aside from all of these relevant reasons, evidence suggests sustainable businesses grow at a faster rate than their competitors – because they are doing the right thing. For example, Unilever’s sustainable brands grew at a 50% faster rate than the rest of its business.
5 Green Marketing Tips for Rapid Business Growth
Green marketing isn’t a temporary consumer trend, it’s a necessity that you should seriously consider for your business. Eco-marketing will take you further, faster than any other kind of marketing strategy that exists today.
The response to climate change has been an upsurge in social responsibility, environmentalism and sustainability from the business community. You can use these same strategies to get ahead and grow your business into a prominent brand.
Here are 5 of the most high impact strategies for your business.
#1: Create Greener Products
Is your product environmentally friendly? Your first strategic tip is to create green products that your customers want to buy. This means baking environmentalism into the core of your business story.
- How is your product green or eco-friendly?
- Consider materials, function and purpose
- Is there a way your product is made that is eco-conscious?
- Don’t be vague or make generalized claims
Green products are ethically sourced, and they use eco-friendly materials. A great example is how Nike produces their shoes. They use reclaimed plastic bottles and manufacturing scraps to create their sneakers. These reduce landfill waste and minimize their need for new materials.
Nike has a long list of sustainability strategies, from dye water recovery, to a move towards a zero-waste manufacturing system – their products are made from 75% recycled materials.
Consider this list by the Federal Trade Commission that outlines the green product claims that you can make.
#2: Be an Environmental Advocate
Is your business on the right side of history? Your second strategic tip is to be an advocate for the environment. There are many ways you can do this, but here are some of the best ones.
- When selling your product, donate a portion of the profits to a green charity
- Support and use locally grown and sourced meats, wines, vegetables and fish
- Have a loud and proud environmental goal for the future (zero waste by 2025)
- Consistently work to advance the green cause to help slow climate change
- Institute a plastic-free lunch policy at work
- Build green practices into every part of your company
Being an environmental advocate means making eco-friendly decisions above everything else. From finding creative ways to save power, to having a ‘no-printer’ policy to save paper and ink, to planting a tree for every product sold – every decision you make will help society.
#3: Choose Sustainable Packaging and Pipelines
Is your packaging still plastic? Your third strategic tip is to choose sustainable packaging and pipelines. Plastic is a major culprit in the fight against pollution and non-reusable materials, so it has to go. It’s also a good idea to do business with eco-aware suppliers, manufacturers and partners.
- Pick paper packaging made from recycled materials
- Avoid all forms of plastic as many can’t be recycled
- Consider no packaging or ‘naked packaging’
- Only partner with other companies who share your sustainability outlook
Your green marketing efforts will benefit from switching your single-use plastic packaging to a more sustainable material. Consumers prefer brands that are taking the plastic pollution problem seriously, and have opted for greener solutions.
#4: Have a Recycling Program and Reduce Waste Disposal
What if you sell normal products and services? The fourth strategic tip is also for small businesses that aren’t investing in sustainable products or packaging. You can still be green by adopting an effective recycling program at work, and reducing your overall waste disposal.
- Restaurants and retail stores will benefit from a recycling program
- Many use technology to assist staff with recycling education, to improve results
- The more you recycle, the less waste goes to the landfill
- The right app or suite of tools will link with your municipality and offer convenient reminders, notifications, a calendar and collection times
- Your products should be easy to dispose of, reuse or recycle
Your sustainable marketing practices should be focused on your recycling program, and your company’s commitment to waste reduction. Of all the efforts that can be made, experts agree that recycling stands to make the most impact on the environment, the economy and conservation.
#5: Create Green Campaign Awareness
Do you use environmental marketing to inspire business? Nothing creates consumer trust and likability quite like advocating for long-term social good and environmental awareness.
Promoting your company based on your green efforts includes:
- Press releases for supporting green causes
- Regular online and social media promotions for green awareness
- Avoiding all forms of print-based marketing
- Networking and collaborating online with other eco-aware businesses
Green campaign awareness is about letting your customers know that you’re in it for the right reasons. These days, you can support yourself and be a force for good when you adopt green marketing practices. It’s time to align your business with what matters most to your consumers.
With these 5 tips, you’ll build a sustainable business model with ethical practices that people will love to support. Consumers make an effort to buy from companies who care.
Choose to be a socially responsible small business and go green in 2020!