How do you effectively market your sustainability initiatives?
The manufacturing marketplace is rife with misguided green marketing approaches. Many do more harm than good.
That’s because green marketing is hard to get right. It takes a light touch to spread a sustainable message without being heavy-handed. On top of that, you have to keep your messaging on-point at all times to maintain your company’s image and avoid regulatory pitfalls.
Green marketing is a strategy that uses inbound and outbound marketing messages that focus on your company’s sustainability. It’s about showing the world who you are, what you’re doing, and most importantly, why it matters.
And when it’s done right, it can boost your brand reputation and give you an edge over competitors.
Here are 5 strategies to help you jump-start your green marketing efforts.
There’s a fine line between a compelling, brand-strengthening message and shameless self-promotion.
A green marketing message that resonates is less about “what we do” and more about the societal impact of what you’re doing. A powerful way to do this is through “sustainability storytelling.”
It’s also best to convey your sustainability initiatives in a measurable and meaningful way that demonstrates your greater purpose.
UK bottled water company Belu has done an admirable job on both fronts.
By partnering with the non-profit WaterAid in a campaign aimed at ending water poverty in third-world countries, Belu makes measurable claims about the money they’ve raised and the number of people impacted.
Their message weaves in personal narratives about specific villagers they’ve helped. Watch this inspiring video that focuses on the transformative impact of Belu’s initiative.
Greenwashing is when a company deceitfully markets itself as environmentally friendly, often without implementing any green business practices in reality. It’s a scheme used to pull in consumers who prefer to buy from environmentally conscious brands, and it’s become so rampant over the years that it’s prompted the need for increased regulation.
Most greenwashing involves exploiting marketing messages by using “green” statements that are vague, irrelevant, or false.
You can see the potential issues here. Civil legal action, for starters. Not to mention mistrust and confusion among both prospective and existing customers.
So before you jump on the green marketing bandwagon, brush up on the current government regulations on sustainability claims.
It’s not enough to talk the talk. A committed green manufacturing company should align its brand ethos with a purpose-driven mission.
Adding something to your mission statement or putting a blurb on your website worked in the ’90s. Today, crafting a sustainability marketing strategy starts with defining a clear purpose. Start by thinking about sustainability in terms of a “reversed” equation: how can you be a mission with a company – not a company with a mission?
Food retailer Tesco is a prime example of a purpose-driven brand.
For years, they’ve made their commitment to sustainability clear by tackling food waste. Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. They’ve been well-received by the public, lauded by the press (on a global scale), and they’ve been making waves on social media.
Here is just one example of a social post that supports their purpose:
In the age of accountability and environmental whistle-blowing, responsible sourcing is a hot-button issue.
There’s more and more pressure for manufacturers to establish supply chain partners who implement sustainable practices. (For more on how to incorporate this idea into your business model, here are 6 steps to help you get started.)
In addition to the more holistic benefits of this decision, offering transparency into your company’s supply chain sustainability serves up a powerful marketing message.
Here again, social media provides a strong marketing channel to create transparency about your partnerships and open up a dialog between you and your prospects. Social media isn’t just about self-promotion. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all places where you can shine the spotlight on your partners’ sustainable practices. This show of support for supply chain partners can earn your brand serious social credibility.
On the other hand, lack of dialogue and transparency can backfire on your brand, as Apple learned a few years ago.
You should avoid greenwashing, but don’t forget about the problem at the opposite end of the spectrum: green blushing.
Greenblushing is when you don’t say enough about your green practices.
According to a Sustainability Positioning Report issued by UL, symptoms of green blushing include:
For green manufacturers, failing to promote your efforts tells your customers that you’re disengaged and non-committal.
Modesty can cripple your green marketing efforts. It wastes a key messaging opportunity, especially when you’re being compared to your competitors.
Sustainability is a key component of your business strategy. Now’s the time to acknowledge that same sustainability in your marketing efforts. An effective green marketing strategy starts with a powerful, honest message. It survives with transparency. And it thrives with the courage to share your story with the people who are waiting to hear it.
Precision Marketing Group has a proven track record for helping manufacturers craft an inbound strategy designed to pull in more prospects, convert more leads – and help your business make the most out of your green marketing goals.
Allison Woodbury has been a Content Marketer for PMG since 2016. She’s a content marketing, writing, social media and branding guru who spends her writing time alternating between getting in the shoes of her readers and scrutinizing super-niche industries. She loves to see what her readers like – so tell her what you want, what you really, really want (to read more of)!