Marketing for sustainable brands is about to lead you to greener pastures, my friend. Nielsen discovered that “products with sustainability claims generally outperform the growth rate of total products in their respective categories.”
Let’s put this into terms we all understand: chocolate. In 2018, chocolate sales as a whole grew 4.5 percent, while sustainable chocolate sales grew 16 percent. Trends in the report show us more people spend their paychecks on green businesses. That’s great news for your sustainable brand! However, it also means there’s competition to win these customers.
You’re not just dealing with new competition either; established brands are wising up and creating sustainable alternatives as well. Get ahead of competitors, win life-long customers, and promote conscious capitalism by upping your marketing game.
1. Make Consumers the Hero in Your Messaging and User-Generated Spotlights
Instead of telling customers your products will save the world (even though it’s super cool that they do), show them how they will change the world through these products/services. Because making the customer the hero never gets old.
To put the customer in the cape, make your content about them and/or something they can engage with. Tom’s has done a fantastic job with user-generated content and engagement campaigns. The “I Stand for…” campaign, for instance, encourages customers to choose which issue (those that coincide with Toms’ brand mission) they stand for. This message empowers customers by helping them commit to a cause with their purchase. It’s something they can show off to friends. Plus, it’s super shareable and viral, so it gets organic traction.
You can do the same for your business by incorporating more videos into your content strategy that center around the customer experience. Show your audience the difference your customers make when they support your eco-friendly brand. This will serve your bottom line two-fold—you’ll enhance your customer relationships and create shareable content to build awareness and boost sales. Your customers will be more inclined to show their friends the cool new eco-friendly lifestyle they’re adopting with your products.
2. Market More of What You Are and Less of What You’re Not
When you want to make a good impression on someone, do you start by telling them about everything you aren’t? We hope not! Improve your content marketing message by focusing on what you bring to the table as a sustainable brand.
You need to remember that your ideal customer respects and expects change with a sustainable purchase. Others may not. Customers may have to change their lifestyles, budgets, or expectations when switching to an eco-friendly or more ethically sourced product.
While this may be hard for people, you don’t need to apologize for this. You should tout all the things your product adds to a customer’s life and the world. For instance, vegan ice cream may be more expensive than store brand ice cream. BUT, you can talk about how much protein and healthy fat the cashew milk brings to the table while cutting down on carbon emissions from dairy farms. If you sell ethically produced clothing, you can focus on quality over quantity and reducing detrimental fast fashion impacts.
At the end of the day, customers will choose your brand because of what they gain—not what they lose or need to change in the process. It’s all about how you spin your messaging to work for your brand and avoid dominating the conversation by catering to people who may not be ready for it.
3. Target Your Customer and Speak to Them
We’ve worked with enough sustainable brands to know just how different their customers can be. So how do you plan to target your ideal customer? Hop on the old internet and start learning their preferences, media habits, and buying tendencies. You can use social media ads to find your target audience and speak to your ideal customers. Running ads will help people find, follow, and consume your content—and buy your products. If you’re not ready to pay for PPC and social media ads, then try to get onto curated marketplaces your audience might frequent. Sites like The Green Hub highlight sustainable products to help you connect with conscious consumers. Websites like Famebit allow you to run influencer campaigns within modest or large budgets.
Just remember that not everyone wants or needs your eco-friendly products, so don’t speak to everyone. You can waste a lot of money showing ads to the wrong people. Focus your content and messaging on the things your audience wants to know and cares about so that they become brand obsessed.
4. Use SEO to Your Advantage
SEO will help bring your ideal customer to you. It leverages the organic traffic people search for—the long tail keywords people will use when looking for your niche products and services. Invest in SEO with annual audits and content to improve your online exposure. Establishing a healthy social media presence and Google My Business listing also helps with your SEO. Those pages usually pop up before your actual website, so think holistically about your SEO—from website to digital profiles.
5. Get Technical
While pop-ups can be annoying, they’re extremely effective when done right. Consider adding one to your site to generate leads for email marketing campaigns. That way, you can promote blog content and improve your SEO by driving traffic back to your website. You can also work on converting interested site visitors into clients or customers through ongoing communications.
If you need inspiration, look at this Naja popup. Its call-to-action encourages the customer-is-the-hero mentality with a strong “join the movement” message. It offers a reward and affirms that you will look good, feel good, and do good if you sign up for email. The picture on the ad also tells a clear story. When you create a pop-up for your website keep these strategies in mind: Every pop-up should focus on one goal (a newsletter sign up for instance), and make an emotional or visual connection with your audience.
6. Partner with Like-Minded Influencers
Have you noticed that influencers haven’t faded into the background yet? This billion dollar industry is here to stay—and this is great news if you’re marketing for sustainable brands.
As strong as your messaging may be, influencers interact with their followers every single day, making people even more receptive to their messages. These followers trust them and therefore, your business. Using an influencer to feature your sustainable product may convert tremendously well (if you choose the right micro or macro influencer).
Take Trash is for Tossers, Lauren Singer. Behind the cheeky name is an environmentalist who shows us the beauty in small changes like composting food scraps. She makes eco-friendly look doable and might convince your customers that caring is cool. You can connect with brand ambassadors like this to promote your product and mission to people who want to build a sustainable lifestyle.
7. Use Trending Events on Social
It’s always smart to piggy back on trending topics—if they’re relevant to your brand. You can do so by using hashtags your followers already use, picking up holidays and special events hashtags that pertain to your business, and more. Hashtags help people find your content through organic search, so it’s important to use them in every post.
You can find relevant hashtags by looking at the annual calendar. Pick out events like Arbor Day or Earth Day that you can build posts around. You can also look at your community or similar ones to find out what events they care about and which hashtags they use. This includes competitor brands; see what they use in their posts. You could be also be a mover and a shaker and create your own hashtags. Either way, make sure to use Instagram insights to see how hashtags affect your reach. And optimize accordingly!
If you want an example of how powerful hashtag campaigns can be, look no further than REI. It subtly reminded people to #optoutside instead of opting into Black Friday. However, the company didn’t say, you suck for participating in rampant consumerism on Black Friday. It merely suggested a better option that strengthened its brand’s image and values. It closed its shop and paid employees to get outside, and encouraged its customers to show them how they #optoutside. It’s a fantastic representation of smart social media strategy.
8. Stay True to Your Branding in Everything you Produce
Has a brand ever disappointed you? Maybe it used a spokesperson who acted contrary to the brand’s values, or perhaps you found out it threw money at a questionable cause. The internet is a wonderful little indexer, and your brand’s every move will most likely be archived. Make sure the content you produce, the products you sell, and how you run your business are things you want written on your proverbial tombstone. Also make sure they’re consistent across every channel. You can achieve this with proper branding.
When we market for sustainable brands, we think the money’s in your messaging. Your key messaging includes your mission, vision, and brand style guide. These establish and maintain what your company stands for. These guidelines also help you clearly communicate these points to target your ideal customer. Going green still isn’t mainstream, so think about the unique culture, voice, and tone of your specific audience. Use language they can understand when you tell your story. Then, use these guidelines for your internal team so everyone knows how to speak from your brand’s voice.
Marketing for sustainable brands is exciting. The industry continues to grow as people respond to the messages green businesses like yours promote. Use the best digital marketing practices to reach your audience and show them how valuable your products are to their future and our world’s. If you ever need help, get in touch!