“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?” That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes, I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn [...]
7 Building Blocks of a Sustainable Marketing Framework
In yesterday's world, "green" goods, services and marketing initiatives were hot. Businesses were tacking these on to their core business strategies simply to appeal to the new, environmentally aware consumer sector.
Today, smart businesses with long term growth perspectives realise sustainable marketing means so much more than just appealing to the "green" consumer sector. They realise sustainable marketing is integral to the success of business growth, and whole business models are being re-designed to reflect the value of long term relationships with people and our planet gained through sustainable marketing practices.
What is Sustainable Marketing?
According to Maria Anderson, Managing Director of Sustainable Marketing Services (Australia) sustainable marketing essentially means getting better results using less resources. Ms. Anderson explains that "sustainable marketing means using strategies and tactics to effectively grow profits, increase business efficiencies, speed up sales cycles, enhance customer loyalty and improve employee attraction and retention - while using fewer resources. Sustainable marketing ensures you meet your business objectives and give your customers what they really need, with lower costs and less environmental impact."
The 7 critical elements to address in the development of a successful sustainable marketing framework.
1.Think Long Term
"Sustainability is about taking a long-term perspective of your business" explains Ms. Anderson. "It means more than the operational footprint of your business. Sustainable marketing is about meeting your immediate business objectives - like creating a competitive advantage, increasing revenue, retaining employees, establishing a 'green' corporate image - while ensuring your efforts have the staying power to sustain long term results."
Long term relationships will build lasting value for your business, too. Sustainable marketing involves building genuine, enduring relationships with your staff, suppliers, customers, community and the environment.
2.Create a Sustainable Brand Position
Know your core values and your key strengths; then translate these into a brand position that delivers real value to your customers. "By doing this," Ms. Anderson explains, "you'll develop a brand position that exploits your natural competitive advantages, that will genuinely appeal to your customers and that has the potential to strengthen and grow. Using your brand position to guide you in your business decisions will help you make quicker, wiser choices to support sustainable success."
Sustainable Marketing Services often helps its customers define their core values and key strengths in order to establish or even fundamentally change their brand positioning. Sometimes this involves transforming the entire business strategy and investing in new resources to bring the brand positioning to life. Ultimately, though, customers perceive more value in the brand and a lasting competitive advantage is established.
3.Maintain Your Focus
Concentrate your marketing budget on one or two segments, and craft clear, targeted messages that appeal to those specific customers. Stay focused on the defined segments, and consistently repeat your marketing messages. You'll build brand recognition faster, get a greater response with less expense, and make more of a return on investment. You can then leverage your profits to broaden your marketing messages and branch out into other customer segments.
"Don't spread yourself too thin", cautions Ms. Anderson. "Think about it this way: If you had a $100 marketing budget, would you get better results spreading it out and spending $10 on 10 different customer segments, or staying focused on 2 segments and spending $50 on each? Chances are you'll make a much bigger impact and a greater return by concentrating on only 2 segments."
4.Actively Engage With Your Target Customers
Communication with existing and potential customers is a two-way activity in sustainable marketing. When you build genuine relationships with your customers, you will truly understand their needs, their motives and their desires. You'll be able to give them what they want, talk to them in their own 'language', build brand rapport and attract more business.
Ms. Anderson says one of the best ways to engage with your target customers is by 'hanging out where they hang out'. In this digital age, that often means using the social mediums they use and participating in their online communities. Sustainable Marketing Services is currently helping some of their customers build brand equity and grow their customer bases by building online forums and communities that embed huge value for their customers' target markets. This is a long term, sustainable marketing strategy that uses minimal resources to attract a large number of targeted customers.
As Sustainable Marketing Services is demonstrating with the development of online communities for its customers, technology can be an effective tool in sustainable marketing. Technology can be used to build strong relationships, improve collaboration with suppliers and staff, get to market faster and reduce costs.
Sustainable Marketing Services is currently using technology to transition into being a paperless office, and it is already reaping the benefits of easier collaboration, getting on the same page faster, saving time and saving money!
6.Apply Genuine "Green" Certifications and Logos
Ms. Anderson recommends companies use authentic green certificates or relevant logos to help consumers make quicker purchase decisions.
"Consumers are looking for easy identification marks to give them confidence and to help them make quick purchase decisions. Consumers want to make decisions that will help the environment, but they don't always trust independent claims. If your sustainability efforts are genuine and can be backed up by certifications or logos, use them to increase consumer confidence and sales."
7.Include Your Whole Workforce
One of the most effective methods of introducing and maintaining sustainable marketing is by extending it to include your employees and your suppliers.
Asking your suppliers to complete sustainability checklists, like Walmart has successfully done, establishes you as a concerned corporate citizen and helps build your brand credibility.
Motivating your employees to become sustainability ambassadors, and giving them the tools to do so, increases employee satisfaction and retention. "In fact," says Ms. Anderson, "sustainability policies and credentials are becoming an important element in attracting new recruits. Many Gen Y's are making career decisions based on their desire to work for 'green' companies."
You might be interested in this upcoming event...
NEW: Social Media for Small Business Webinar Series
Practical ways to use social media to grow your business
Online Webinars - Starting 28 May 2013
NEW webinar series: designed to dispel the myths about social media and arm small business owners with skills and know-how to make social media a powerful force for business development and bottom line results.
Experts will present practical ways to use social media to:
- Build brand awareness for your organisation
- Network and make connections all over the world
- Build your personal profile and position you as a credible authority
- Drive traffic to your website, blog or social networks
- Convert social media followers to leads and leads to customers
- Grow you reach with suppliers, staff, resources, alliances, sponsors