Why Sustainability Should Have A Place In Small Business Marketing

Sara G. Norris

CEO, Vibe Creative Marketing – Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe.

From bringing out the blue bin on Tuesdays to hauling a bag of bags into the grocery store, sustainability has become top of mind for many individuals: So much so that sustainability is becoming a deciding factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Millennials, the largest generation in the U.S., have the power to help define industries based on their sustainability preferences.

But it’s a significant topic no matter what your business’ target demographic is. According to 2020 McKinsey data, 63% of all consumers surveyed consider a brand’s promotion of sustainability to be an important purchasing factor. According to 2017 Nielsen and Conference Board data, over half of respondents across all generations thought it was important that companies implement programs to improve the environment.

The facts are in: Many consumers care about sustainability. And if they’re making a difficult decision between you and a competitor, your company’s sustainability efforts — and how you market them — could tip the scale in your favor.

Does promoting your company’s sustainability efforts seem unnatural? Maybe you’re thinking that sustainability has nothing to do with the core of your business, services or products. Or perhaps you feel your company’s efforts are too small to boast about. 

Transparency, now more than ever, is so important in the world of marketing. Keep in mind that today’s consumers are typically searching for the whole company, not just your product or service. Your customers will appreciate your honesty, no matter the size of your efforts. After all, it will take many small steps from many people and businesses in order to make a big impact. 

It’s worth mentioning that “fake it till you make it” does not apply here. It may seem obvious, but if you don’t have current sustainability initiatives, don’t lie about it. Similarly, I don’t recommend exaggerating your efforts. If you get caught lying or exaggerating about your sustainability efforts (or anything, for that matter), this can backfire quickly and make any real efforts you make seem like money grabs.

If your company’s sustainability efforts are lacking, now’s a great time to change that. Here are seven simple ways small businesses can increase sustainability efforts at little to no cost.

1. Clean up a beach, trail, park or highway in your community.

2. Replace single-use products: For example, replace paper towels with regular towels or paper plates with reusable plates.

3. Ask, “Do I really need to print this?” before hitting the print button.

4. Set up a recycling bin.

5. Switch to LED lightbulbs.

6. Provide a water fountain or cooler for refilling reusable water bottles.

7. Partner with a local nonprofit that focuses on green practices to spread awareness.

And, just like that, your small business is making great strides toward being sustainable that you can include in your marketing messaging.

Bonus: Sustainability efforts could also help with employee recruitment and retention. According to ClearTrace (formerly Swytch) data (via Fast Company), nearly 70% of respondents said that if a company had a strong sustainability plan, it would affect their decision about whether to stay with that company in the long term. Consider forming an optional employee-run group to continue furthering your company’s sustainability efforts. This is a great way to gather new ideas on how your business can make an impact and get buy-in from the ground up. Now, your company can go green from the inside out.


Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2021/11/02/green-is-the-new-black-why-sustainability-should-have-a-place-in-small-business-marketing/

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