Going green isn't just good for the environment. It's also good for business. Eco-friendly businesses make an authentic commitment to sustainability — and customers are willing to reward that promise. Sixty-six percent of consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable brands, according to a Nielsen global study.
“By integrating sustainability into their business models and purpose — to whatever degree — companies can both help society and increase goodwill toward their brands," the study reports. In addition to attracting more customers, eco-friendly businesses may also benefit by increasing energy efficiency and sourcing local materials. Here are five ways to promote your eco-friendly business and start reaping the benefits of going green.
1. Be Authentic
Before you launch an eco-friendly business, make sure your commitment to sustainability goes beyond marketing to reflect a core belief of your business. “Faking authenticity is difficult; so instead, put your effort into finding a cause you feel genuinely passionate about," writes Tom Young for Bplans, which offers tools for business planning.
If you care about poverty, for example, you could support programs to improve fuel efficiency in low-income homes. If food is your passion, you could support ways to reduce food waste, Young explains. For the past three years, outdoor retailer REI Co-op has demonstrated its commitment to the outdoors by closing all its stores on Black Friday and encouraging both employees and customers to #OptOutside with family and friends.
2. Focus on Products
To successfully launch and grow an eco-friendly small business, focus on your brand messaging. What makes your product unique? How does it reflect your company's core values? And most important, how does it benefit customers?
While being green is a business advantage, you ultimately must deliver a great product that directly improves people's lives — not just the surrounding environment. Make sure your business is known for your unique and high-quality products as well as your commitment to sustainability.
3. Show Transparency
Green marketing should be clear and evidence-based, says Young. “Customers are savvier than ever, so don't try to pull the wool over their eyes," he says. “Avoid making vague statements, back up your claims with evidence when available, and don't attempt to confuse your customers with jargon."
Transparency is critical, writes Brian Appleton, for Envision Creative, a branding and digital marketing agency. Brands need to be able to prove that their commitment to eco-friendly causes is real. One way to do this, says Appleton, is to publicize your company's green goals on your website – and provide updates when those goals are reached.
4. Find Partners
A great way to expand your green marketing is to align your business with non-profits and organizations with similar causes. “Community support and interaction is an integral part of green marketing," says Appleton. Working with your local community is a great way to increase goodwill for your business.
Encourage customers to get involved by donating a percentage of each purchase to a charitable partner. To expand your green marketing efforts, you can also ask your charity or nonprofit partner to promote your donation offer to its members. Earthbands, for example, shares a dollar from every bracelet its sells to one of three charities aligned with its beliefs.
5. Share Your Story
Get your whole company involved in your sustainability efforts. One way to encourage that involvement is to consider providing small incentives to employees to participate in eco-friendly community activities.
Promote your community activities with photos, videos, and social media posts to demonstrate your company's commitment to a sustainable future, Appleton advises. Timberland, shares its commitment to sustainability on its website by dedicating an entire page to explaining how it responsibly creates products and helps local communities, including the community service events it sponsors and what percentage of its employees are engaged in those events.
Launching and promoting an eco-friendly business is a win-win for the environment and your company. By going green you can attract more customers, increase profits, and reduce costs to create sustainability not only for the planet but for your long-term business growth as well.