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Key Principles & How to Leverage It [+Examples]

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Key Principles & How to Leverage It [+Examples]

In 2020, IBM ran a study on consumer behavior and found that most consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to be more environmentally conscious. This is likely why consumers have noticed a big push for sustainable marketing from brands.

Fast forward to 2022 and not much has changed.

So, how does a brand leverage sustainable marketing to appeal to a growing, socially conscious audience? We’ll cover that and more below.

Green Marketing vs. Sustainable Marketing

While both terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between green marketing and sustainability marketing.

Green marketing focuses on strategies that promote environmental awareness and protection. Sustainable marketing, on the other hand, is a little broader.

It encompasses green marketing but it also includes practices that go beyond the environment, like social and economic issues.

Are Potential Customers Paying Attention to Sustainability? [Data]

Sustainability is a topic that has gained a lot of traction as of late. Many believe it only matters to Gen-Z but recent research suggests this is a cross-generational concern.

In 2022, we surveyed 1,034 consumers to learn about their shopping habits. Half of the respondents believe climate change is one of the most important social issues companies should take a stance on – with the highest response from Boomers (ages 55+) and Gen-X (ages 35 to 54).

This value is reflected in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents say they’re more likely to buy from a company actively trying to reduce its environmental impact.

In addition, roughly 28 percent of respondents say a brand’s environmental impact and the ethical production of its products are two of the most important factors influencing their purchasing decisions.

According to the data, Millennials (38%) care most the ethical products while Gen-X cares the most about the environmental impact. However, all groups show consideration for sustainable practices.

So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this question: Yes, consumers do care about sustainability and it’s not just the youngsters.

So, even if your brand isn’t rooted in this mission, you will still find value in investing time and resources in sustainable practices and marketing to attract more customers.

Learn more about consumers in our 2022 State of Consumer Report.

1. Have a larger purpose.

Brands typically judge their success by the numbers. How much revenue they have or will generate in any given period is usually the biggest indicator of success.

Sustainability shifts this perspective by having brands evaluate themselves by something bigger than profit.

As a brand, you have to promote something that’s bigger than your products and services and transcends any particular industry.

Do you have a clear social mission? If not, spend time discovering what that is and how your brand plays a role in furthering that mission.

sustainable marketing example

For instance, fashion brand Autumn Adeigbo sells clothing, accessories, and home decor items. However, its mission, as stated on its website, is to impact the lives of women on a global scale.

They do so by using female-owned production facilities and employing female artisans, among other practices.

2. Think ahead.

Sustainability marketing is all about building long-term value.

Too often, brands focus on gaining immediate returns. For instance, many marketing tactics like running Google Ads and blogging are great lead generators.

However, what happens once your lead has made a purchase and turned into a customer? How will you build loyalty and create brand evangelists?

Sustainable marketing looks at ways to nurture consumers during the entire buyer’s journey.

Education is one way to build loyalty with your audience early on. From when they first discover you on social media to after they’ve made a purpose.

For instance, a food brand could educate its audience on the importance of ethical farming on social media and continue this process post-purchase with package recycling tips.

3. Be customer-oriented.

You might be thinking, “Isn’t being consumer-oriented what all marketing is?

Ideally, yes but that’s not always the case.

In traditional marketing, a brand will often try to push a product or service to a customer. With consumer-oriented marketing, it’s more about understanding your customers’ needs and tailoring your marketing to that.

For instance, say your audience is craving more transparency in your sourcing practices or wants you to be more vocal on social issues. You could use that information for your next campaign.

With so much competition out there, one way to stay customer-oriented is by innovating.

We’ve all heard the Blockbuster and Netflix cautionary tale. But that speaks to a huge societal shift that Blockbuster was unwilling to make.

But the truth is, innovation doesn’t always have to be so big. It can happen in small iterations – the key here is staying in touch with your audience’s needs.

4. Reflect sustainability in every aspect of your brand

Sustainability marketing doesn’t work if it’s not authentic.

Imagine finding out a business that claims to be sustainable has failed to implement any practices to promote its mission. Consumers would distrust that brand and it would be difficult to earn it back.

Make sure your brand is looking at sustainability from a holistic lens.

Are you preaching about sustainability but using unsustainable resources to build your product? Are you collaborating with brands that conflict with your mission? Is your team representative of the future you want to promote?

These are the questions you should ask to determine if your brand reflects the mission you’ve set out to achieve. Identify the areas that need work and go to the drawing board to figure out strategies that align with your mission.

Audiences don’t expect perfection, they do, however, value transparency. It’s OK – and recommended – to share where you currently fall short and how you plan to remedy these issues.

Sustainable Marketing Examples

1. Thinx

Thinx is an underwear brand whose mission is to provide sustainable solutions to menstruation and incontinence.

Everything the brand puts out marketing-wise is centered around this core value.

sustainable marketing example: thinx

The brand’s social media pages feature a mix of product promotion, educational content, and mission-focused announcements.

The key to sustainable marketing is doing it in an authentic way that feels embedded in the brand, as opposed to an add-on that’s leveraged when convenient. Thinx is a great example of how to do it right.

2. Kind Socks

This clothing company was started based on the founder’s desire to find a socks company with a sustainable and ethical vision.

While most brands focus on inviting its consumers to purchase, Kind Socks takes the exact opposite approach: Asking them to spend less and more thoughtfully.

This strategy may seem counterintuitive to many companies but emphasizing the brand’s mission can help build trust with its audience and increase their brand loyalty.

3. Pangiai

Materials science company, Pangiai, wants to save the environment.

Every piece of marketing the brand puts out is centered around this core mission, including this video campaign.

In it, the brand explains its mission to “reverse the cycle from the unnatural to natural, from plastic to plants […], from the new to the recycled.”

What’s effective about this ad is that Pangiai describes the future they want to see and outlines the strategies it will implement to get there.

Throughout the ad, you see Pangiai products but they’re not the focus. This tells viewers the mission drives the products, not the other way around — and that’s sustainable marketing done right.

4. Nada Duele

In the previous section, we discussed the importance of having a holistic approach to sustainability marketing.

With Nada Duele, their mission is reflected in everything: from their name, which represents the idea that products should not cause harm, to the initiatives they take part in.

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When you visit their “How We Work” section, you learn about their collaboration with a Guatemalan institute dedicated to protecting the forestry sector.

It’s important that the partnerships your brand takes on align with your values. Otherwise, you risk losing credibility and trust.

5. Satya + Sage

Social media is one of the best and easiest ways to implement a sustainable marketing strategy.

You can share a range of content, from educating your followers on sustainable practices to sharing ways your brand is being sustainable.

In this example from candle company Satya + Sage, they share tips on how to use the seed paper that comes with every candle.

sustainable marketing example

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On social media, in particular, pay attention to the questions your followers ask and the comments they make, as that can inform which marketing strategies you test in the future.

Sustainable marketing is becoming increasingly important for brands. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Oct. 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Five questions for our new CMO, Shafqat Islam

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Five questions for our new CMO, Shafqat Islam



Alex Atzberger: Now that you’ve stepped into the CMO role, what are you looking forward to?   

Shafqat Islam: It’s amazing to take on this role at both a category creator and leader. How many brands can be a leader in almost every category–think Experimentation and CMS–that we play in?  

And we have so much to look forward to and build on. We have an exceptional team of marketing leaders and practitioners. They are fiercely intelligent, optimistic, and care deeply about what our products can *do* for our customers. Not just for the people who will encounter the marketing, retail, and product experiences that we support, but for the people who build them. As somebody who has both built products and been deeply immersed in marketing, I love the perspective that our team has.  

Alex Atzberger: What makes Optimizely unique?   

Shafqat Islam: First off, we’re category creators in experimentation and content management, both CMS and CMP. Marketers know this, and analysts know it, as something like 7 major analyst reports will tell you.  

Martech is a crowded field, so it’s true that there are a lot of firms whose territory overlaps with some of ours. But show me another company that can handle the entire content lifecycle like we can. Or show me another company that can do both feature flagging and experimentation.  

We also have a legendary legacy in the martech world. Before I joined, I knew that A/B testing and Optimizely were synonymous, and that the company’s roots go all the way back to the origins of the practice. And that’s something that is like common folklore in marketing and technology.  

And more than anything, the 1500 people who work here are world-class. 

Alex Atzberger: Being a CMO talking to other CMOs and marketing leaders is an advantage. You know the customer. But you’ve also built tech products. How does that affect your work now?  

Shafqat Islam: I’ve spent the majority of my adult life building products for marketers. So I’ve been lucky to spend so much time talking to CMOs and marketers in almost every type of company all over the world. As the founder/CEO of Welcome, my approach was to solve marketer challenges by building products. But now as CMO, I get to use the products we build.  

We’re practitioners of all of our own solutions, so in addition to the natural empathy I have for marketers, I am also close to the job’s unique challenges every day. There’s nothing like that to keep you sharp and keep you close to the customer.  

As a product builder, I knew we must always speak to business outcomes. But as CMO, I love that we aren’t just talking about the solutions – we’re living them, too.  

Because I was an entrepreneur for so long, I also bring another unique view – my willingness to take smart risks. I love to try things, even if (especially if?) the results are sometimes surprising. When it comes to experimentation, there are no failures, only learnings. 

Alex Atzberger: What are the biggest challenges you’re hearing from our customers, current and future?  

Shafqat Islam: Growth, especially given how tough it is out there for so many industries. The stakes are very high when it comes to creating experiences that will win and retain customers. That’s what all of our customers–especially the retail heavyweights-are thinking about.  

And marketing and technology leaders need to do this with leaner budgets. Efficiency matters a lot right now, and that means not only reducing the costs you can see, like the price tag attached to software, but also the costs you can’t see right away, like how much time and money it takes to manage a set of solutions. With that said, in tough times, I think the strongest brands can not just survive but also thrive. I also think when others are fearful, that may be the time to invest aggressively. 

And in the background of all this, there is still the ever-expanding list of customer touchpoints. This is simultaneously an exciting challenge for marketers and an exciting opportunity. More data means more effective storytelling– if you can use it right.

I also hear marketers when they say there’s a need for a shared space for collaboration among us. The role of the marketer is expansive, and it’s only getting more complicated. Building a community where we can come together and appreciate our shared goals is difficult, but I’m optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction.  

Alex Atzberger: What is next in our space? What will marketing and technology leaders be talking about six months from now?  

Shafqat Islam: Looking around now, it’s clear that 2023 will be the year that AI-generated content goes mainstream. We’re just starting to see the uses and the consequences of this. There’s already buzz about ChatGPT and its capabilities, and platforms are already making space to integrate AI functionality into their offerings. It could be an exciting way for users to become better equipped to create and share high-quality content.  

Customers also have gotten very used to personalization. Every screen they see daily is personalized, whether it’s their Netflix account or social feeds. So, when I see a site that isn’t personalized, I kind of scratch my head and wonder, why? With personalization now the norm, expectations for digital creators are sky-high.

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What to Consider When Choosing a Brand Ambassador for Your Social Media Campaign

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What to Consider When Choosing a Brand Ambassador for Your Social Media Campaign

Want to maximize the potential of your social media campaign? Then you must ensure to choose the right brand ambassador for the job. Having a good ambassador will increase your social media reach and boost sales. But, selecting the best ambassador can be tricky.

This guide will show you the key steps to consider when selecting the perfect brand ambassador for your social media campaign. From assessing their influence to ensuring their content matches your brand’s mission. This guide will give you the insights you need to make the right decision.

Understanding the role of a brand ambassador

A brand ambassador acts as a company representative, promoting the brand’s products to a specific audience. They are selected for their influence and ability to communicate the brand’s message. Their primary goal is to increase brand awareness and engagement with the audience.

To achieve this, an ambassador shares the brand’s message and builds connections with the target audience. They help to establish trust and credibility for the brand by personally endorsing it through their own experiences. Also, they provide valuable feedback to the company, allowing for product improvements.

Tips for choosing the right ambassador for your social media campaign

1) Assess the credibility and influence of potential ambassadors.

One of the first steps is to ensure they have a very active social media presence. Make sure they have many followers and a high engagement rate. Check the number of followers they have and the type of posts they share. This will give you a good idea of the content they generate and let you know if they are a good fit for your campaign.

Make sure their posts are relevant and appropriate for your brand. If their content is not a good fit, you may want to reconsider hiring them for your campaign. This is important if your brand has a particular message you wish to convey to your audience. If their content is not in line with your brand’s values, it could have a negative effect on your brand’s image.

2) Analyze the compatibility between the ambassador’s content and your brand’s mission.

It’s common to think that a famous ambassador would be a good fit for your campaign. But if their content is not in line with your brand, they are not an option. You may want to go further and check the interaction between their posts and followers. If the interaction is very high and followers actively participate, this is a good indicator of the quality of the ambassador. This will show how much impact the ambassador has among their followers. The interaction of the followers with the ambassador’s posts is important, as it is a good way for them to get to know your brand better.

3) Make sure the ambassador is present on the right social networks.

If your brand uses more than one type of social media, you should ensure the ambassador is present on them. You can choose an ambassador who is active on most of the major social networks. But, you must ensure they have an appropriate presence on each platform.

For example, it may not be a good idea to select an ambassador who is primarily active on Instagram for a Facebook-centric campaign. Remember that followers on each platform are different, and it’s important to reach your desired audience. If the ambassador you choose is present on the right social media platform, it will be easier for them to reach your audience.

4) Set expectations and establish the terms of the partnership.

Once you have selected an ambassador and they have agreed to collaborate with your brand, set the terms of the collaboration. Set clear expectations and tell the ambassador precisely what you want them to do. This includes specifying the type of content that should be posted. It is also important to outline the kind of connection that should be fostered between their followers and your company.

Also, be sure to establish payment terms and any other essential partnership details. For example, if you want the ambassador to promote your brand at a specific event, let them know so they can prepare.

5) Consider brand ambassadors who have experience participating in events.

A brand ambassador with experience working at events and comfortable interacting with customers can be a valuable asset to your campaign. They will be able to promote your brand and products at events and help to build a positive image for your company.

Find a brand ambassador who is professional and comfortable in a high-energy environment. This will ensure they can effectively represent your brand and engage with customers at events. Hire an event staffing agency to ensure the event runs smoothly and let brand ambassadors focus on promoting the brand and connecting with the audience.

6) Complete the selection and onboarding process

Make sure you select an available ambassador with the right skills for your campaign. Verify that the ambassador’s availability matches your campaign schedule.

It’s a good idea to start interacting with the ambassador on social media. It will help you establish a strong relationship, making promoting your brand more accessible. Show the audience that they have rallied behind your brand and thank them for their support.

7) Follow-up and evaluation of the ambassador’s success

Once the campaign is over, follow up with the ambassador to test its success. Ask the ambassador if your promotion has been effective and get their feedback on the campaign. This is an excellent way to improve your campaign the next time you run it. It will also help you identify areas where you can improve your social media strategy.

You can test the success of your social media campaign by looking at three main factors: reach, engagement, and conversions. By considering these factors, you can determine the success of your social media campaign. Also, you can identify any areas that need improvement.

Conclusion

Brands use brand ambassadors to increase engagement and sales of their products. An ambassador has a large following and regularly interacts with your audience. When selecting an ambassador, consider factors such as their social media presence and the ability to communicate your brand’s message. Taking the time to choose the proper brand ambassador will ensure the success of your social media campaign.

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Content Operations Framework: How To Build One

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Content Operations Framework: How To Build One

More and more marketers of all ilk – inbound, outbound, social, digital, content, brand – are asked to add content operations to their list of responsibilities.

You must get your arms around:

  • Who is involved (and, I mean, every who) in content creation
  • How content is created
  • What content is created by whom
  • Where content is conceived, created, and stored
  • When and how long it takes for content to happen
  • Why content is created (the driving forces behind content creation)
  • What kinds of content does the audience want
  • How to build a framework to bring order and structure to all of this

The evolving expectations mean content marketers can no longer focus only on the output of their efforts. They must now also consider, construct, implement, and administer the framework for content operations within their organizations.

#Content marketers can no longer focus solely on the output. It’s time to add content ops to the mix, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

What exactly are content operations?

Content operations are the big-picture view of everything content-related within your organization, from strategy to creation, governance to effectiveness measurement, and ideation to content management. All too frequently at the companies – large and small – we consult with at The Content Advisory, content operations are left to evolve/happen in an organic fashion.

Teams say formal content operations aren’t necessary because “things are working just fine.”

Translation: Nobody wants the task of getting everyone aligned. No one wants to deal with multiple teams’ rationale for why the way they do things is the right/best/only way to do it. So, content teams just go on saying everything is fine.

News flash – it’s not.

It’s not just about who does what when with content.

Done right, content operations enable efficacy and efficiency of processes, people, technologies, and cost. Content ops are essential for strategic planning, creation, management, and analysis for all content types across all channels (paid, earned, owned) and across the enterprise from ideation to archive.

A formal, documented, enforced content operation framework powers and empowers a brand’s ability to deliver the best possible customer experiences throughout the audiences’ journeys.

A documented, enforced #ContentOperations framework powers a brand’s ability to deliver the best possible experiences, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.

What holds many content, administrative, and marketing teams back from embracing a formal content operations strategy and framework is one of the biggest, most challenging questions for anything new: “Where do we start?”

Here’s some help in high-level, easy-to-follow steps.

1. Articulate the purpose of content

Purpose is why the team does what it does. It’s the raison d’etre and inspiration for everything that follows. In terms of content, it drives all content efforts and should be the first question asked every time content is created or updated. Think of it as the guiding star for all content efforts.

In Start With Why, author Simon Sinek says it succinctly: “All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”

All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year, says @SimonSinek via @CathyMcKnight and @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

2. Define the content mission

Once the purpose of the teams’ content efforts is clear (and approved), it’s time to define your content mission. Is your content’s mission to attract recruits? Build brand advocacy? Deepen relationships with customers? Do you have buy-in from the organization, particularly the C-suite? This is not about identifying what assets will be created.

Can you talk about your mission with clarity? Have you created a unique voice or value proposition? Does it align with or directly support a higher, corporate-level objective and/or message? Hint: It should.

Answering all those questions solidifies your content mission.


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The marketer’s field manual to content operations

A hands-on primer for marketers to upgrade their content production process – by completing a self-audit and following our step-by-step best practices. Get the e-book.


3. Set and monitor a few core objectives and key results

Once your content mission is in place, it is time to set out how to determine success.

Content assets are called assets for a reason; they possess real value and contribute to the profitability of your business. Accordingly, you need to measure their efficacy. One of the best ways is to set OKRs – objectives and key results. OKRs are an effective goal-setting and leadership tool for communicating objectives and milestones to achieve them.

OKRs typically identify the objective – an overall business goal to achieve – and three to five key quantifiable, objective, measurable outcomes. Finally, establish checkpoints to ensure the ultimate objective is reached.

Let’s say you set an objective to implement an enterprise content calendar and collaboration tool. Key results to track might include:

  • Documenting user and technical requirements
  • Researching, demonstrating, and selecting a tool
  • Implementing and rolling out the tool.

You would keep tabs on elements/initiatives, such as securing budget and approvals, defining requirements, working through procurement, and so on.

One more thing: Make sure OKRs are verifiable by defining the source and metric that will provide the quantifiable, measurable result.

Make sure objectives and key results are verifiable by defining source and metric, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

4. Organize your content operations team

With the OKRs set, you need people to get the work done. What does the structure look like? Who reports to whom?

Will you use a centralized command-and-control approach, a decentralized but-supported structure, or something in between? The team structure and organization must work within the construct and culture of the larger organization.

Here’s a sample organizational chart we at TCA developed for a Fortune 50 firm. At the top is the content function before it diverges into two paths – one for brand communications and one for a content center of excellence.

Under brand communications is each brand or line of business followed by these jointly connected teams: content – marcom, social/digital content development and management, center of excellence content – creative leader, center of excellence PR/media relations, customer relationship management, and social advertising.

Under the content center of excellence is the director of content strategy, manager of content traffic, projects, and planning, digital asset operations manager, audience manager, social channel and content specialist, creative manager, content performance and agility specialist, and program specialist.

Click to enlarge

5. Formalize a governance model

No matter how the operational framework is built, you need a governance model. Governance ensures your content operations follow agreed-upon goals, objectives, and standards.

Get a senior-management advocate – ideally someone from the C-suite – to preside over setting up your governance structure. That’s the only way to get recognition and budget.

To stay connected to the organization and its content needs, you should have an editorial advisory group – also called an editorial board, content committee, or keeper of the content keys. This group should include representatives from all the functional groups in the business that use the content as well as those intricately involved in delivering the content. The group should provide input and oversight and act as touchpoints to the rest of the organization.

Pointing to Simon Sinek again for wisdom here: “Passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive, it needs structure. A why without how has little probability of success.”

6. Create efficient processes and workflows

Adherence to the governance model requires a line of sight into all content processes.

How is content generated from start to finish? You may find 27 ways of doing it today. Ideally, your goal would be to have the majority (70% or more) of your content – infographic, advertisement, speech for the CEO, etc. – created the same or in a similar way.

You may need to do some leg work to understand how many ways content is created and published today, including:

  • Who is involved (internal and external resources)
  • How progress is tracked
  • Who the doers and approvers are
  • What happens to the content after it’s completed

Once documented, you can streamline and align these processes into a core workflow, with allowances for outlier and ad-hoc content needs and requests.

This example of a simple approval process for social content (developed for a global, multi-brand CPG company) includes three tiers. The first tier covers the process for a social content request. Tier two shows the process for producing and scheduling the content, and tier three shows the storage and success measurement for that content:

Click to enlarge

7. Deploy the best-fit technology stack

How many tools are you using? Many organizations grow through acquisitions, so they inherit duplicate or overlapping functionality within their content stacks. There might be two or three content management systems (CMS) and several marketing automation platforms.

Do a technology audit, eliminate redundancies, and simplify where possible. Use the inherent capabilities within the content stack to automate where you can. For example, if you run a campaign on the first Monday of every month, deploy technology to automate that process.

The technology to support your content operations framework doesn’t have to be fancy. An Excel spreadsheet is an acceptable starting place and can be one of your most important tools.

The goal is to simplify how content happens. What that looks like can vary greatly between organizations or even between teams within an organization.

Adopting a robust content operations framework requires cultural, technological, and organizational changes. It requires sponsorship from the very top of the organization and adherence to corporate goals at all levels of the organization.

None of it is easy – but the payoff is more than worth it.

Updated from a November 2021 post.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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