Eco-friendly businesses enter competitive markets with a disadvantage. The general necessities that it takes to run a business are often harmful to the environment, so any firm that chooses not to engage with those practices has an obstacle other companies may not need to deal with. Apart from a lack of accessibility (green equipment, materials, and supporters can be harder to find), their specialized nature generally makes them more expensive as well.
Because they have higher costs to cover, eco-friendly companies need to be on top of their marketing game. This may call for them to utilize the Four P’s model, a marketing philosophy that emphasizes optimizing the product conception, finding an ideal price, seeking out the best places to distribute, and designing promotional tactics to best reach a target audience. Of course, in 2019 and beyond, this will continue to be the internet.
This will require a specific type of posturing, an ethical backbone, and a knack for current digital marketing tools. With these tactical efforts, eco-friendly businesses will be able to not only increase their profit range but also leave the world a better place than if fewer people had bought their products. Let’s look at how eco-friendly businesses can enact the best online marketing strategy possible:
First and foremost, it is essential for green companies to practice what they preach. Customers are able to expose corporations that have been caught being dishonest. With the internet, it is extremely easy for consumers to rally against a brand. What this means is that green companies need to put their money where their mouths are.
This is especially important considering that green companies do not historically have the best track record of this. In 2010, it was discovered that 95% of “green” products were deceptively marketed. That finding called for more transparency and accountability from eco-conscious companies over time.
It is necessary to ensure the ethical claims being made in a green company’s marketing tactics are true. For instance, if they are optimizing for green keywords like “recycled materials” or “non-toxic ingredients,” then their products should use recycled materials and non-toxic ingredients. If they use small amounts of these materials and ingredients but are also using toxic materials, then they may be perceived as being dishonest. Activists are good at seeking this information out, and no environmentally conscious company would want to be on the wrong side of their outrage.
Sometimes, a company cannot enact all of the environmentally positive efforts that they would like to. Such things can be expensive, and while some of them can be written off on taxes, that can vary greatly from state to state. In these cases, it is crucial for them to be upfront about what they can do and what they cannot.
Ethical exaggeration is an easy mistake to make, especially for a business that is trying to make a positive impact on the world. For instance, the shoe company Toms has long held that for every pair of shoes they sell, they would give a pair to children and youth in developing countries. They have often been praised for their tendencies toward conscious capitalism, which is the ideology of for-profit companies considering their greater impact on the world. Yet despite this praise, the company utilized questionable foreign labor in the making of these shoes, earning ire in the process.
The lesson that can be learned from Toms is to not make a claim that can be disputed by other aspects of a business operation. There are companies, however, that has managed to impact the world positively while being transparent about the shortcomings of their methods.
This was done admirably by Patagonia. Though they are a large supporter of the Go Green movement, their online marketing methods and branding have made it very clear that not all of their products are eco-friendly, and some are even made with fossil fuels. Patagonia is an example of a company which will keep consumers’ respect better than those that exaggerate claims to save face.
Thankfully, authenticity and transparency can be aided with digital marketing, which in itself is an eco-friendly practice. Online marketing eliminates the use of toxic chemicals in ink for print ads. The use of plastic, paper, and fuel is also reduced with digital promotion. Its prevalence in society is actually a benefit to green causes, and it is very attractive to businesses right now due to its cost-effectiveness and availability.
The utilization of digital platforms is only effective with business intelligence. Business intelligence is crucial for any company to be using because it helps to identify and predict market trends and target audience reactions. This use of analytics helps to better target campaigns and ensure that anybody who could benefit from environmentally conscious products is aware of them.
Again, due to the lack of convenience that green organizations have by staying environmentally conscious in their operations, their online marketing has to be even better. This can be best strategized and executed with sufficient data. Many of the tools businesses already use will have analytics information available, such as Google Analytics and the content management system or site host they use.
Care For Customers
Eco-friendly companies cannot claim to care about the planet without showing their care for the people that live on it. This starts with the customers who support it. If a company treats customer complaints well and considers their personal safety in the midst of their online marketing tactics, it will build trust with its target audience.
Remember that a marketing strategy is most effective when companies can back up their ethical image. If a customer complains about a product or service, green companies need to listen and work with them to fix the problem. Within brand positioning in social channels and websites, there should be contact forms and active responses set in place to handle problems and general customer questions.
Additionally, before any purchases are made, there should be precautions set in place that prevent data loss for site users and customers alike. When focusing on profit margins, these things can be put to the wayside, so it is important to be conscious of that. Preventing data loss takes time, after all. Green businesses would do best to ensure their supporters are safe when engaging with them online. When they promote themselves as ethical alternatives to the mainstream, they need to be ethically sound in all aspects.
Of course, sometimes companies do not have the time they need to improve their digital marketing. In these cases, it may be best for them to outsource. Third-party help can be extremely beneficial, as the internet and digital marketing trends are always changing. Digital marketing firms are constantly on the lookout for these changes and have made it their job to follow, learn, and understand them.
Online marketing is not just about what may be trending on social media but also how to optimize your web presence for search engines. The tools required can be expensive and time-consuming to learn, however. A third party can bring a fresh marketing perspective to the table, which can be helpful to a company that focuses their efforts on environmentally-friendly products and services rather than digital means.
It really comes down to how much of their resources an eco-friendly company is able to put into their online marketing. It is vital for their survival, but if they are unable to operate smoothly while keeping up to date on new digital marketing methods, it only makes sense to hire a third party. The choice really comes down to how much they are willing to spend and how beneficial that would be as opposed to improving internal efforts.
In order for environmentally conscious companies to improve their digital marketing, they have to maintain an air of transparency and authenticity. It is important that they are practicing what they preach and letting people know when their operations fall short of ethical prowess. They can further their eco-friendly authenticity by utilizing digital marketing technology, which does not use toxic materials.
But that falls to the wayside if a company is not ensuring the security of their customers’ data. An eco-friendly company cannot care for the world without caring for the people in it. If online marketing is too great to manage while running other operations, green companies may want to consider hiring a third party for their online marketing, so that they can focus on product development and their greater impact on the world.
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