How to Market your Business more Sustainably

    May 28, 2024

    Sustainability is high on the agenda for many businesses, with impact on the environment and communities now forming a key element of company strategies. As well as protecting the future of the planet, demonstrating legitimate green practices can help businesses improve their own processes and secure more work.

    Because your customers care too. According to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, there has been a 71% rise in online searches for sustainable goods in recent years. We’re all becoming increasingly aware of our impact on the environment, and this is translating into the companies we choose.

    As a business, there are many measures you can take to improve your carbon impact. Here at EBY, we’re on our own journey to become a net zero business by 2025, with an active programme to reduce waste and energy consumption.

    But how does this relate to your marketing?

    How can you marry the vital need to promote your business, which often involves printed materials, branded merchandise and attendance at events, with sustainability?

    The good news is it doesn’t have to be one or the other. By keeping sustainability at the forefront of decision-making, it is possible to market your business in a more environmentally-friendly way.

    Let’s have a look at how.

    What do we mean by sustainability for business?

    People are becoming much more aware of their impact on the planet and the need to protect the earth and its resources for future generations.

    In business, this means taking a more considered approach to the resources you use, the materials you choose and the waste you generate.

    The same applies to your marketing activities.

    Digital marketing versus printing

    An obvious area where you can reduce your carbon impact is by cutting back on printed materials. And that’s not to say don’t print anything – we’ll look at how you can print more sustainably in the next section – but it’s about being more selective in your printing.

    Marketing output should be driven by strategy and results anyway, so it’s worth reviewing exactly what you print to see whether those activities are still delivering a return on investment and achieving your business goals.

    For example, if you’ve been sending monthly mail-outs to customers every month, do they actually generate leads? Could these be switched to e-newsletters?

    If you take hundreds of printed leaflets to events, could you take one card with a QR code on which links to the same information in digital format instead?

    Eco-friendly printing and packaging

    While we have moved on from printing thousands of ‘10% off sale’ leaflets, just because it’s what we’ve always done, for example, there is still a place for strategic, intelligent printing.

    And in those situations, you can absolutely opt for a more eco-friendly solution.

    Innovations are taking place to minimise the environmental impact of printing, including in the ink, materials and the technology itself.

    These include waterless printing, digital printing, ‘green’ inks which use ingredients like vegetables or soy, paper alternatives which don’t rely on cutting down trees, such as bamboo, sugarcane, hemp or recycled cotton.

    On a practical level, even making small changes like using less colour, making sure you print on both sides and using all the space available, can reduce your overall consumption.

    The same goes for any packaging you use in your business. Look for sustainable, biodegradable options that don’t rely on harmful manufacturing processes that will ultimately end up in landfill or the oceans.

    Branded workwear

    Clothing and fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, as more than half of materials used contain plastics which are a significant source of microfibre waste.

    Yet branded workwear is not only an easy and affordable way to make your business stand out, work uniform is a necessity for some businesses.

    However, this too can be made more sustainable, particularly if you look for items made from 100% recycled materials. You might also consider choosing clothing that is long-lasting and durable. You could even offer a work-based donation or swap scheme among employees to extend the life of uniform.

    Promotional items

    Many businesses use promotional items such as pens, note pads, tote bags, calendars, trolley coins, cups and so on. And these are absolutely a key part of many a marketing strategy.

    There’s nothing quite like giving someone a physical object they will use time and time again to keep you in their minds long after you met them.

    Through a bit of research, you’ll find that many suppliers have diversified to offer eco-friendly alternatives made from recycled materials, such as recycled cotton tote bags, pens made from the scraps of fruit and vegetable trays and water bottles made from plastic waste.

    Branded merchandise that uses sustainable materials and promotes a move away from single use plastic – such as reusable water bottles and coffee cups – is a great way to stay in the minds of your customer, not only for the service you offer, but also for your values.

    Events and travel

    Marketing your business can also involve an element of attendance at events, meetings, exhibitions and so on. As well as adopting some of the measures above for the promotional items you take to those events, you could go further by offsetting the carbon impact of your travel.

    There are various platforms that enable you to calculate the emissions of a journey and buy trees or pay towards environmental projects to directly offset that footprint.

    If you’re organising an event, how about offsetting the journeys of all your attendees? This in itself can serve as a great promotional tool.

    It’s also worth considering what events or meetings can be held online. We know there’s undoubtedly a value in face-to-face events, but you might not always need to travel hours up the road for a one-hour catch up.

    If you are hosting a physical event, could the key parts of it be made available online? This would give attendees the choice to watch remotely if they prefer, reduce the amount of travel associated with the event and potentially increase your audience beyond those who can attend in person.

    Technology and data

    Our digital footprint also has an impact on the environment. Even data stored in the cloud is backed up by huge global centres.

    While websites, emails and data storage are an unavoidable aspect of business, there are again measures that can be taken to minimise the impact.

    For example:

    • Regularly deleting emails and files that are no longer needed – you don’t need emails from 2005!
    • Saving smaller versions of files, for example reducing the size of a 20MB photograph if it’s only ever going to be used on a website
    • Sending links to documents rather than attachments
    • Removing unnecessary attachments when forwarding emails
    • Not sending unnecessary emails copying loads of people in – can you send one succinct round-up instead?
    • Unsubscribing from newsletters you don’t read
    • Not sending unnecessary newsletters to customers – this goes back again to the point about ROI and the actual value of each newsletter

    Leading the way in sustainability

    The key factor in adopting a more responsible approach to your corporate activities is to not just say you’re an ‘eco-friendly’ business, but to genuinely be it and do it.

    Your commitment to people and the planet should be a visible part of your overall mission statement.

    Demonstrating your commitment to the environment by way of a net zero strategy for your business, communicating exactly all the different things you do to achieve this, will set a good example for other firms to follow.

    It’s also likely to help with business growth because people want to work with companies who align with their own values when it comes to protecting the planet.

    How EBY can help your sustainable marketing plan

    We can help you source from a variety of more environmentally-friendly processes and suppliers when choosing what to print and produce.

    As part of your digital marketing strategy, we can also review what’s working for you and what isn’t, including how to streamline and automate processes. We’ll come up with creative ideas that help you reduce the carbon footprint of your marketing activities and give you a much better idea about where to invest in physical resources.

    Find out more about sustainable marketing today.


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