Many buyers make an effort to purchase products and services from businesses that are green—or at least more environmentally-aware than their competitors. To capture those customers, you have to make sure that your green practices are a visible part of your marketing efforts.
Not every part of your marketing plan needs to trumpet how amazingly eco-friendly your company is, but integrating descriptions of the steps you’ve taken can provide a significant boost.
Address potential customer concerns
Certain industries face more customer concerns about environmentalism than others. If, for instance, your prospective customers know that you are responsible for disposing of waste, they may have questions that your marketing needs to answer.
Gabriella LeVota is the director of marketing for Junk King, which uses print, broadcast, radio and digital channels to reach potential clients. She’s made environmentalism a key component of Junk King’s marketing efforts. “In the junk removal industry, there was a real lack of environmental consciousness before our company was formed," she says. "It seemed imperative that we inform our customers of our green efforts so they could make the decision for their items to be disposed with full information. Additionally, we are really proud of our green initiatives and feel proud to share our efforts with our community.”
The customer response has been excellent. “Our customers feel at ease knowing that their items are not going to be tossed in a landfill if it is at all possible to avoid,” she says. “We have received great press in the markets we currently serve, as well as being nationally recognized by Inc. magazine and Waste & Recycling. While our press tends to discuss the growth of our company on a national level and into the local market, it always mentions how we are using a green approach to differentiate ourselves in the junk removal industry.”
Bring your marketing into alignment with your values
A key consideration of how you market your business has to be what you personally value. In part, that’s because prospective customers tend to identify well with personalities and stories in marketing. You’re better equipped to attract clients whose needs and preferences are aligned with your own.
Arcadia, a retailer founded by Jay Gurewitsch, has focused on its Fair Trade credentials as a key component of its marketing efforts. Through strategic partnerships, media outreach and other elements, Gurewitsch has emphasized the store’s connection with the New York City Fair Trade Coalition (FTC NYC) and the rest of the Fair Trade community.
Ian Edwards, an Arcadia representative, says, “Gurewitsch's world view has been about fair trade and sustainability. It was how he started Arcadia, the store in the first place—relying on unique gifts and products that were sourced ethically. So, it's part of the fabric of the store's story—which has extended to operational efforts, too, like low-wattage LEDs and FSC papers and local sourcing.”
Those efforts have not gone unnoticed–nor unrewarded. Gurewitsch’s personal commitment to sustainability has built a brand that is very attractive to his target market.
“The fair trade/sustainability angle is the ethical way to do this kind of business," says Edwards, "and his customers respond to that. Also, fair trade is a market differentiator. Many customers enjoy the experience and story line behind how the product came to be—a premium, if you will and an opportunity to contribute to a solution for some global challenges. He has the rep of being the go-to guy for fair trade products in NYC.”
The right campaign in the right place
When it comes to talking about your company’s green efforts, make sure that you’re telling the right people in a way that will matter to them. Not everyone will be motivated by your green messaging; for many audiences, cost, usefulness, or other factors may be the motivating features. In general, however, few people actively avoid the eco-friendly label, so your green marketing is unlikely to dampen sales. Just be sure each of your audiences is getting the message that resonates with them.
That means surveying your market as well as testing your promotions to see if you get a more positive response with a green focus or by concentrating on other parts of your brand. It may also mean testing different approaches in different channels. As long as you have taken genuine steps to green your business, however, it’s worth including your efforts in your marketing materials.