Tips for Better Sustainable Marketing

sustainable marketing: the conundrum

Sustainable marketing seems easy enough- highlight the sustainable attributes of your product, and you’re golden, right?

Sustainability is the core of your values. It’s why you built this business. You’re selling sustainable products because you know that the world cannot continue with the status quo. Everyone else should know that and understand that your product is inherently better because you’re prioritizing the earth’s welfare.

And you’re right! It is better.

But I don’t want you to lead with that.

I know. You want to shout out all your earth, human, and wildlife loving benefits, and how your product is so much more responsible than other options. And I want you to, too! But… hold onto your bamboo undies, because, you may not like this… Your sustainability heroism alone isn’t going to sell your product.

know how to sell your product against traditional products

Sustainable marketing can be tricky. You’ve built a business around sustainability- the fact that it doesn’t pollute, deforest, poison water, use child labor, emit GHGs, leave plastic to photodegrade and end up in our food chain, spread toxins into our waterways, soils, and human cells.

But, selling for what something is not is counter-intuitive to building a brand based on quality.  Your product can not stand on its own just because it isn’t the traditional form of itself. 

You have to be able to identify what customers love, and sell that, with the cherry on top being a more sustainable version of what they already want.  Sell the benefits, the performance, the results, the quality, and then the environmental and social benefits.

Consumers are prioritizing sustainability more and more, but they need to know that these replacement products are just as good.  It will be hard to move customers from their unsustainable habits if there is an expected personal sacrifice.

Sell the benefits, alleviate their problems, the same way you would if you were a traditional, unsustainable, earth-polluting business.  Then hit them with the beauty of sustainability to take them over the edge to purchase.  How can they argue with a product that meets their needs and the needs of the planet?

create content

Let’s talk blogs real quick. 

  • 84% of consumers that buy online have purchased based on information and product descriptions they’ve read in blogs.  (out of 2.14 billion online buyers….)
  • Business with regular blogs get 97% more links to their website than businesses that don’t.
  • From Forbes: “If you want to build your business and grow your personal brand, you need to have a blog.”

That’s just blogs alone.  Content describes a myriad of helpful, informative communication that doesn’t directly sell your products, such as newsletters, webpages, FAQs pages, and more.  Content marketing grabs 3x as many leads as paid advertising.  I’m not saying you should stop paying for ads- they do reach a wide audience and expand awareness of your products. But, content is still king. Or queen.

Digital content is tricky though.  You may be a great writer, but if you aren’t writing for the algorithm, (yep- talking about Google), then you may be missing opportunities.  Have a professional content writer create some of your content for you.  This will help you rank on Google, and drive traffic to your site.

have a coherent sustainability page on your website.

Better yet, do that and link to your annual Sustainability Report.  Demonstrate that you take it seriously.  Explain to consumers why your efforts matter.  Tell the story of how the product came about and what problems it solves.  How the material was selected, who you work with, and why it matters.  Tie your product into global problems with real answers, real data, and reliable facts. 

Consumers are savvy.  They aren’t susceptible to greenwashing the way they may have been 10 years ago.  They are looking for true sustainability, and honesty.  Where you fall short, bring it up.  Confront it, because if you don’t, you’ll get called out by customers you lost.  Come clean, discuss your short comings (most consumers understand that there are negative externalities to nearly any product, but they will appreciate the recognition from the brand they want to love) and demonstrate that you have a plan to at least partially fix it.

The other thing this does is prevent information jam on your product pages. When trying to sell the product for how it beats out traditional alternatives, you don’t want to be tripping over all the wonderful, but product irrelevant, sustainability principles you’ve addressed. Drop a few relevant ones in here and there, but give a whole picture on your sustainability page so that interested consumers can verify your tidbits. It’s always good to link to the sustainability page on your product pages so consumers connect sustainability with the product, without having to wade through global data.

be an ethical business, not just a sustainable business

We are in the throes of BLM.  A women’s movement.  Recognizing that human rights are not a given.  And we blame corporation and governments.  So we are expecting better from the brands we commit to.  Don’t overlook the people aspect of the triple bottom line.  Make sure you are hiring with diversity.  Feature your management team on your web page.  (If you are nervous to do that because it’s lacking in color and gender, then maybe rethink some things).  Discuss your commitment to ethical supply chains and manufacturing.  Check your factories- do random audits.  Make sure there aren’t negative environmental externalities in local manufacturing or extraction regions. Show your efforts and research on your sustainability page.

sustainable marketing wrap-up

The outlook is trending in the right direction, albeit slow, for sustainable brands.  Transparency, quality, and ethics are significant characteristics of the brands we want to love.  It’s easy to slip up in a digital world, but focus on producing quality products, informative content, and creating an ethical and sustainable business model, and you’ll find your brand’s success in this changing world.

The Guilty Granola is a copy and content creator, helping sustainable brands achieve higher visibility in the digital marketplace.  For inquiries on how your ethical brand can benefit from external copy and content creation, please reach out to or visit the Copywriting Services Page.

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