Sustainability

Sustainable Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

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Concerns about the environment, sustainability, and climate change deeply influence consumer choices. Data from a 2021 survey found that more than 60 percent of U.S. consumers consider a company’s sustainability practices when making a purchasing decision.

If you are already implementing environmentally-friendly practices into your business, demonstrating your efforts to your customers can lead to a major boost in sales.

Consider how you can advertise your sustainable approach through the following marketing channels:

Branding

Incorporating your environmentally-conscious practices into your visual identity is a simple way for customers to associate sustainability with your business. However, overly vague claims, like producing lower carbon emissions, are not strong enough to convince consumers of the value of your work. 

The most successful branding strategies highlight a specific area where the company excels in sustainability. For example, a restaurant can emphasize its efforts to reduce food waste, while a sustainable construction firm can specialize in energy-efficient retrofits and building materials. 

Once you’ve identified the angle that fits most authentically with your business, redesign your marketing material to reflect your ecological values. Adding earth tones, like green, brown, or yellow, and nature symbols to your contractor truck wrap, website, and logo solidifies your company’s image as an eco-conscious brand. 

Certifications

While adapting your brand identity can help showcase your values, savvy consumers will want to see some proof that your company is actually engaging in environmentally-considerate practices. 

Earning an industry-recognized sustainability certificate from a respected third-party organization can lend your business credibility. As certification processes are rigorous, earning a credential lets your customers know that your actions align with your claims. 

The right certification track depends on your industry. Retailers can aim for B-corp status, which affirms commitment to environmentally sustainable and ethical business practices. The Green Business Bureau offers a tiered certification seal to companies across industries that perform highly on its sustainability assessment. 

Landing Page

Some customers will need more information than a logo, certification stamp, or tagline can provide. Devoting an entire section of your homepage to your sustainability efforts will ensure that customers and other industry partners can access in-depth explanations of your eco-friendly approach. 

This page is also the ideal place to report your impact. This helps customers translate your practices into tangible outcomes. Your landing page can also provide some background about your company and why sustainable practices are such an important part of your work. 

If your approach is novel and has the potential to reduce waste and improve conservation across the industry, sharing this information on your webpage positions your firm as a thought leader and can widen your reach.  

You can also use this section of your website to educate the public. In addition to describing your sustainability efforts, link resources that explain how your industry impacts the environment.  Your social media content can also feature actions consumers can take to reduce their own waste and consumption. 

Commitment

Achieving sustainability is not as easy as checking off a to-do list. Instead, it requires ongoing monitoring, revision, and adaptation. If shifting to a more sustainable business model is not financially viable at this time, run the numbers and set a strict but reasonable deadline. Publicize your commitment to reaching these sustainability goals and update your consumer base on your progress. 

Companies that build their core values around sustainability are better positioned to reach their goals. Ensure that you have buy-in from your employees, managers, and investors before embarking on green-focused goals. 

Transparency

Even if your intentions are pure, overstating or misrepresenting any of your sustainability claims can cause consumers to lose trust in your business and brand. In the worst case, you risk accusations of greenwashing. 

The most famous case of greenwashing is the Volkswagen emission scandal. While the carmaker touted the carbon-reducing benefits of its new models, it secretly cheated emission regulations by installing sophisticated software in more than 11 million vehicles. 

The VW case may be on the more severe end of the spectrum, but any type of deception will lead to a  loss of consumer confidence. You can avoid greenwashing by being fully transparent with your sustainability claims. Don’t overstate the impact of your approach and acknowledge if some aspects of your production process are not as eco-friendly as they could be. 

Transparency also means going a step beyond and vetting your vendors and suppliers. If you are serious about centering your company’s identity on sustainability, you must hold the same standards for any other business you associate with. Being selective about your partners also builds trust with customer.

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