It seems that today everyone wants to toe the line when it comes to sustainability and going green. Many companies are stepping up and making changes to green their operations, something that only makes them more competitive in the marketplace. After all, consumers prefer sustainable companies. Nielsen reports that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for brands that are sustainable.
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What does this mean for your company? It means you need to make sure your company and brand stand out among your competitors. And to accomplish this, you need to do two things – you must strive to be a green business, at least as green as your competitors, if not more, and you have to market your green business better than your competitors. Let’s take a closer look at how you can do this.
Be a Green Business
In order to rise up among your competitors and make a true difference, you need to be a green business. That means you need to devise a strategy of sustainability that will include every aspect of your business, from the sourcing of product materials to the delivery of the final product. Being a green business means striving for sustainability in the following areas:
- Become more energy efficient, which means doing things like using energy-saving lightbulbs, unplugging equipment when it’s not being used, and using alternative sources of energy;
- Use biodegradable cleaning products in your offices and facilities;
- Go paperless to save trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, countering the greenhouse gas effect. When you do need to use paper, use only post-consumer waste for both paper and packaging materials;
- Green your supply chain. This means ensuring your source materials are ethically produced and your products are manufactured in an ethically and environmentally friendly way. It also means you green your transportation to reduce your carbon footprint;
- Green your product packaging by making it smaller and using environmentally friendly packaging materials and fillers.
- Contribute to green initiatives that will help make a better, healthier planet;
- Use green-powered webhosting. There are plenty of green web hosts out there that use renewable energy and invest in planting trees and buying carbon offsets;
- Get involved at the community level, by investing in community programs.
All of these are important ways to create a green business that will attract consumers in this highly competitive marketplace. But in order to attract those customers, you need to get the word out.
Market Your Green Business
When it comes down to it, competing in the marketplace means one thing and one thing only – the business that attracts and retains more customers will be more successful. This is absolutely critical. It always has been and always will be. The businesses that bring in the customers are the ones that have staying power. However, in today’s world, businesses have to approach their marketing strategy from a sustainable standpoint if they really want to leave their competition behind. This means having a marketing strategy that involves the following:
- Make sure you know what your target customers want and expect in terms of sustainability. What are their attitudes and what criteria do they use when making purchasing decisions?
- Ally yourself with environmentally friendly and sustainable companies, non-profit groups, and research organizations;
- Communicate to your customers through trustworthy sources and keep your communications simple;
- Be transparent in what you are doing in terms of sustainability and with both successes and failures;
- Use product labelling that let’s consumers know about your product and packaging;
- Ensure all marketing material lets customers know about your sustainability efforts and green products;
- Make sure your advertising provides information in a simple way, then let the consumer make the decision;
- Test all advertising with green consumers before you make it public;
- Produce a sustainability report on an annual basis and make it public;
- Find ways to educate consumers on environmental issues related to your industry and how you are working to improve them. This means tying your business directly to a real environmental or ethical issue and positioning your brand as part of the solution.
What you are doing through your marketing initiatives is twofold. You are increasing awareness of your company’s green initiatives and you are increasing the market value of your company. When the perceived value of what you have to offer goes up, the consumer will be more likely to consider purchasing your product.
Ultimately, it’s not only about how green your products or operations are. It’s also about how you convey that to the consumer. Consumers will choose the companies that are sustainable and do the best job at letting them know that. They will choose companies that have a green reputation, that are known for their efforts in sustainability.
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