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Key Principles & How to Leverage It [+Examples]

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Key Principles & How to Leverage It [+Examples]

År 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 kvinnor 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.

Bildkälla

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

Bildkälla

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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For a Better Long-Term Content Strategy, Find a Purple Audience

“The stock market is not the economy.”

When the stock market is up, it doesn’t always follow that the economy is great. When the stock market crashes, it doesn’t always mean the economy is bad.

That’s as true today as it was 25 years ago when I first got into marketing. And it’s a great reminder to avoid basing business decisions on faulty connections.

Over the years, I’ve learned an adjacent lesson about content and audiences: Popularity isn’t a sign of differentiation. People don’t necessarily regard what is popular among online audiences or the media as high quality – or even true.

If you successfully chase trends and feed popular content to audiences, you have not necessarily differentiated your content. On the other hand, differentiating by taking a contrarian or highly niche view of what’s popular doesn’t always work either. How do you blend popularity and differentiation?

#Content popularity isn’t a sign of differentiation, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

Red and blue ocean strategies

In their 2004 book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne explain red and blue ocean strategies for marketing. Red oceans are crowded markets where popular products abound and cutthroat sales and marketing strategies rule. Blue oceans are undiscovered markets with little or no competition, where businesses can create new customers or die alone.

In strategic content marketing, most businesses focus on the red oceans – offering short-term, hyper-focus feeding. They look to drive traffic, engagement, and conversions by getting the most people to consume the content. So a red-ocean strategy focuses on topics and content that have proven popular with audiences.

But this strategy makes it difficult to differentiate the content from everyone else’s.

This myopic view of content often prohibits testing the other side – investing in a blue-ocean mindset to find and create new audiences with less-popular content.

Short-term, hyper-focused #Content feeding often prohibits the mindset of creating new audiences, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

Finding a blue niche in a red world

I recently worked with a financial technology company that provides short-term loans to small businesses experiencing a cash-flow crunch. It’s as sales-driven as any team I’ve seen.

When they started, they put much of their marketing and content efforts into a blue-ocean strategy, targeting small businesses that will need a loan within a month.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Five years ago, this company wasn’t the only one to recognize the massive opportunity in fast, easily accessible, short-term lending. A red ocean of new customers who needed these loans grew in a relatively robust economy (and historically low interest rates).

The value of these loans grew from $121 million in 2013 to just over $2 billion in 2018. And competition for this audience’s attention grew, too. As short-term, low-funnel content on accessible lending saturated the market, this strategy became less and less successful because so many fintech companies pursued it.

My client’s team knew they couldn’t only count on this red-ocean audience for new business. They recognized the need to invest time in building a new audience – larger, more established, long-term borrowers.

This audience wouldn’t produce immediate generering av leads. But the company wanted to diversify its product line and better support the new audience’s loan-related needs.

The genius of this strategy was teaching, targeting, and building demand for new ideas from a niche inom the red audience. Put simply: They created a purple audience by targeting a blue audience within the red one.

The blue audience the team targeted consisted of fast-growing smaller businesses that would soon evolve into established, long-term borrowers. These businesses might want to know the benefits of the short-term availability of cash. The team focused the new learning content platform on teaching companies that don’t need a loan now about the benefits of having a solution at the ready when they do.

The purple audiences took time to develop. But when those audience members entered the red ocean, my client company stayed top of mind because it had bucked the popular trends and offered completely different content.

3 triggers for targeting purple audiences

Deciding to invest in cultivating a purple audience requires some thought. These three considerations can prompt the move to a different audience hue.

1. You’re ready to hedge bets on current efforts

So many companies double down on their content to the point where their strategy incorporates the same content at every stage of the customer’s journey. Why? Because everybody is talking about it.

I see some B2B marketing organizations deliver the same “why change” thought leadership content to prospects as they do their customers. Shouldn’t your customers’ needs and wants change after they purchase your solution?

Developing thought leadership du believe is important but current audiences aren’t yet thinking about can be an excellent hedge.

You shouldn’t deliver the same thought leadership to prospects AND customers. After all, your customers’ needs and wants should change after they buy.

2. You believe the consensus is wrong

Many companies fold their content marketing like a lawn chair because their content goes against the consensus. Last week, a chief marketing officer told me, “Our CEO says we can’t go out with that thought leadership message because people will disagree with us.”

You don’t have to invest the entire budget in a contrarian idea. But if you genuinely believe the world will eventually come to your point of view, build the content infrastructure that supports that opinion and experience a multiplier on the investment.

3. You see an opportunity to steal audience

Look at the most popular content, and you see all your competitors fighting over the eyeballs seeking that topic, trying to outrank everyone on search, and fighting a red ocean of potential audience members. Then, look up and ask, “What’s next?”

You might see a slight trend. Or, as my fintech client did, you may notice a niche blue audience in the red audience. Investing in that content can pull audiences from the popular content into your fledgling purple audience.

SAP’s content site The Future of Customer Engagement and Experience illustrates this concept. During the pandemic, the team, led by Jenn Vande Zande, adjusted its editorial focus to steal a segment of the red-ocean audience seeking COVID-19 coverage. Jenn and team designed the content to appeal to people looking not just for lockdown news but also for the most up-to-date practices and industry information for businesses on customer experience in the COVID-19 era.

SAP created a purple audience.

Get colorful

As a marketer, you should think about new audiences. How can you address them with content that may not be widely popular now but can help them better prepare for what you believe is coming tomorrow?

That’s a better question to answer for long-term content marketing success.

Få Roberts syn på bara fem minuter:

Prenumerera till arbetsdags- eller veckovisa CMI-e-postmeddelanden för att få Rose-Colored Glasses i din inkorg varje vecka. 

HANDPLOCKAT RELATERAT INNEHÅLL: 

Omslagsbild av Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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