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What is Sustainable Marketing and How Can You Leverage Social Media?

Sustainable marketing social media

It’s always important to take the right approach with your marketing efforts. If you don’t find the right angle to connect with your target audience, the rest of what you do won’t make much of a difference in the end. It’s the initial connection you make with a potential customer that grabs their attention and compels them to learn more about your brand and your products or services. 

This concept is what has led many brands to turn to the idea of sustainable marketing. In the article below, we’ll explain what sustainable marketing is, why it has become so popular, and how you might be able to deploy it in your own business. This strategy has the potential to give your marketing efforts a serious boost, so let’s get started!

What is Sustainable Marketing?

At first, you might be tempted to think that sustainable marketing refers to marketing efforts that you can keep up for months or years to come. For instance, campaigns that are affordable and easy to manage might fit this definition. But that’s not quite it. 

Instead, sustainable marketing refers to the technique of creating marketing materials that highlight the sustainable elements of your products and services. In other words, you are using this marketing technique to reach a segment of your audience that cares about environmental issues and the concept of sustainability as a whole. If at least some of your potential buyers fit into that category – which is very likely – you’ll want to consider what sustainable marketing has to offer your brand. 

As you may already be thinking, some companies are so closely tied to sustainability that virtually everything they do fits into this category. And while that’s true, it doesn’t mean that other companies can’t get great results with their own sustainable marketing messages. Even if you aren’t building your entire brand around a reputation for being kind to the environment and considerate of social issues, you can still play in this space and take an angle that may open you up to a larger customer base. 

Sustainable marketing definition

The Importance of Authenticity in Sustainable Marketing

It’s important to note that only authentic sustainable marketing has a chance to be successful. Potential buyers are going to see right through it if you are just using this as an opportunity to make more sales without anything to back up your messaging and the causes you claim to care about. It would be better to skip sustainable marketing altogether than to do it in a phony, half-hearted manner. 

This is an area where the saying that “actions speak louder than words” really rings true. For instance, if you talk about how the manufacturing of your products is more considerate of the environment than techniques and materials used by your competition, that better be the truth – and you better be able to prove it. Publish information that shows how you take sustainability into account when developing new products, if that is truly the case. Whatever it is that you are genuinely doing to make your business more sustainable and considerate of the greater good, find ways to show your audience so they can see it’s more than just a marketing initiative. 

Who cares about sustainability

Do Buyers Care About Sustainability?

Another factor to consider here is whether or not your target audience is going to care enough about sustainability for this to make a difference. After all, even a well-crafted message isn’t going to make a dent if the people who see the message don’t really concern themselves with environmental matters. 

While it’s not this simple, you can start to roughly gauge the interest of your audience in sustainability by age group. Generally speaking, those in younger age groups will be more concerned with environmental causes and overall sustainability than will older generations. There are always exceptions, of course, but that’s a good starting point for determining your audience’s level of interest. If you make products or services that are targeted toward younger buyers, you can rest assured that at least a decent portion of that market will be receptive to a sustainability message. 

Some Simple Examples

The precise way you implement sustainable marketing is going to depend entirely on what you are selling and who you are selling it to. With that said, we can offer some basic examples to at least get you thinking in the right direction. 

Basically, the concept here is to touch on sustainability while also being sure to promote the benefits of using your product or service and how it will solve the problem that the buyer is bringing to the transaction. Remember, business is all about solving problems for your customers, so you’ll still need to do that regardless of any eco-friendly messaging you want to add on top. 

Sustainable marketing ideas
  • Educate after the purchase. This first concept actually takes place after you have turned a shopper into a buyer. Once someone has made a purchase and landed on your email list, you could trigger an auto-responder that delivers information about your environmentally-conscious approach to business. That way, you will have individuals who have already experienced your products or services, and now are hearing about how much you care about sustainability. This combination has the potential to turn one-time buyers into ongoing customers, and the messaging about the environment might encourage them to point their friends toward your site, as well. Of course, ongoing email marketing to your past customer list is useful for a variety of other reasons, so this one is a good plan all the way around. 
  • Make an announcement. Another good way to implement sustainable marketing is by announcing something eco-friendly in your ads and through other channels. A great example would be a change you make to the production of one of your products to include more sustainable materials. Your ads might highlight this point directly, stating that you have made the change to both improve the product and be kinder to the environment. This is a strong option because it’s not just you saying that you care about sustainability – it’s demonstrating tangibly what you have done toward that end. 
  • Pay it forward. Yet another way to market using sustainability as a focal point is by offering to contribute to a respected charity or organization for every purchase. So, maybe you state in some of your advertising that you will donate 1% of all revenues from a specific product to a charity that is doing good for the environment. If you are a local brand, it might be smart to partner with a local non-profit that is known and trusted in your area. Again here, we see the idea of standing behind your words with action, this time in the form of donating some of your revenues to groups that are actively doing work to help with climate and environmental issues. 

These are three simple examples, but there are certainly many more possibilities out there to explore. A little bit of creativity can go a long way toward finding an approach that will make sense for your brand, connect with your target market, and lead to meaningful results. 

Integrate with Social Media

It wouldn’t be a discussion about marketing in the 21st century without touching on the role social media can play in this plan. Whether your brand is fully committed to social media marketing or you only occasionally use your various accounts, there are some opportunities to explore here simply because of the active sustainability-focused communities present on most social platforms. 

Simply put, environmental issues are commonly discussed and debated on social media platforms, and you can use that popularity to get your brand in front of the right people with just a bit of planning and strategy. Like everything else, your approach to social should be customized to suit your brand and your target audience, but here are some tips: 

  • Find good hashtags. Just like with anything else on social media, using the right hashtags can go a long way. Spend some time doing research on currently popular hashtags that can be tied into what you are promoting or how you are promoting it. There are plenty of tools on the web to help you perform some quick hashtag research so you are sure to target tags that are still being used. These trends change quickly, however, so you’ll need to remain current and do some fresh research each time you are going to put up a new post. 
  • Promote on the right days. There are certain days during the year when environmental causes get a bit of extra attention on social media. Some of these include Earth Day in April, Arbor Day (also in April), International Day of Climate Action in October, and others. Mark some of these relevant dates on your promotional calendar and have plans to tie your posts into these occasions in one way or another. Posting relevant content on the right days can create the opportunity for discovery by people who may have never before come into contact with your brand. 
  • Partner with the right people. So-called “influencer marketing” is another way to utilize social media to reach the right audience. Do some research to find relevant social accounts that would align nicely with your brand and have a focus on the environment and sustainability. If you can partner with one or more of these people, you can again open up your business to a new audience relatively quickly. Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to work with social media stars who have millions of followers – you might be able to make a lot of progress by partnering with smaller accounts that have an engaged, meaningful relationship with their audience. 

How Does Sustainability Fit Into Your Marketing Plan?

Most businesses will be able to find a way to use sustainable marketing as at least a component of their advertising efforts. Whether you decide to make this a primary feature of your marketing or just a small element is yet to be determined – take some time to think about how your products and services tie into sustainability and deliver a clear message to your audience. 

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David Loughney
About David Loughney:

David Loughney is passionate about helping brands find and express their voice in the world of social media. He helps to strategize and facilitate social media content to gain brand awareness, increase engagement and generate leads for your business.

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