The demand for sustainable and ethical products and services is on the rise. And, with this shift in consumer attitudes dominating the market, it's important for all businesses to try to cater for these changes in everything they do — including within their marketing. Here, Jonathan Birch from digital marketing agency Glass Digital shares his top tips for creating an ethical marketing strategy for your green business.
The ethical market is growing rapidly, with more and more shoppers basing their purchases on how well they match up with their values. And, with the UK ethical markets worth over £83bn in 2018 (Triodos Bank), and set to be even more valuable in 2019, it's important that every business is doing all they can to appeal to the shift in consumer attitudes.
And, when you invest in making these changes, it's important that you are letting people know about them. Here, I will be sharing my top four tips for creating a marketing strategy for your eco-friendly business.
Understand what your audience wants
Before you take any steps towards designing a marketing strategy, it's important to understand who your audience are and what they want from businesses in your industry. For example, if you own a restaurant, you may find that there is increasing demand from diners who want locally sourced produce as a priority, or more vegan options to reduce the impact their meal choices have on the environment.
Once you've narrowed down what it is that your potential customers want, you'll need to consider how you're going to market to them. This could include rethinking the focus of your social media posts or having signage up around your workplace to inform visitors of the changes you are making.
Similarly, showing your business that you support environmental initiatives could also help boost your sales. Perhaps this could include having an optional donation added to the total of each bill or donating a proportion of each sale to a charity that holds the same values as your company.
Use your marketing strategy as an awareness campaign
Although ensuring your customers know that your adverts and content are associated with your business, don't let it put you off from using your marketing strategy as an awareness campaign for current ethical concerns.
This could include creating a social media campaign which will display eye-opening visuals, statistics and facts about the damage that's been done to the environment and how customers can take action. Within this, you could recommend they make changes which are relevant to your business. For example, recommending that they use biodegradable cardboard cups rather than using single-use plastic ones, and explaining that this can reduce cup waste with some statistics that support this. You can then take the opportunity to mention that that's why you use them in your own café or coffee shop.
Alongside your social media posts, you could also host a blog on your website that shares industry news and articles of interest to your eco-friendly customers. Having this shareable content can also help with link building, which in turn will benefit your overall SEO.
Invest in online marketing
While traditional marketing can certainly be effective when done right, online marketing is growing from strength to strength, particularly as the world aims to become more connected. Digital marketing strategies have huge potential to target your audience all in one place and get messages across to them about eco-friendly products and services, quicker and is low cost. But, if you aren't comfortable doing this yourself, consider hiring an agency to do it for you.
As well as these benefits, doing your marketing online is a much greener alternative in itself. By placing an online banner ad rather than getting an actual banner printed you can ensure your marketing strategy doesn't produce any no printed paper or material waste to have a negative impact on the environment.
Similarly, if you send your customers monthly vouchers or loyalty gestures, you should consider growing your email database to reduce direct mail. You can then send your customers their offers straight to their inbox. Plus, as it'll hopefully tackle the problem of leaving them at home, they may even prefer it much more!
Make sure your marketing strategy competes
The increased demand for sustainable products and services means that there are many businesses becoming eco-friendly, which means plenty of competition. So, it's important that you get creative with your marketing campaigns in order to stand out against others.
Customer expectations can change drastically, so it's important that you don't just think about sustainability as it is now, but rather closely watch its development and adjust your product ranges and services as it evolves. Building your own niche from this can also help, and put you ahead of any competition, no matter how much more established they may be than you.
You need to give your customers good reasons to come to you rather than the competition, and setting up a Google My Business account where customers can leave reviews can help. This can give you an opportunity to show off all of the positive aspects of your business, and for other potential customers to choose your products or services over alternatives.
Eco-friendly businesses are in demand, but with so many, you need to make sure your marketing strategy is finetuned. Follow my top four tips and watch your company get the sales boost it deserves!