Time to Invest in Sustainable Marketing?


Despite its recent rise, sustainable marketing is an evolving concept and one that marketers should consider.

Innovation often happens when two existing concepts are executed in a way they haven’t been before. Sustainable marketing is one of those. Though we’ve seen the two terms come together to market specifically environmentally friendly solutions, we are starting to see a new approach emerging.

There’s a new wave of marketers exploring what it means. Recent concepts encapsulate a move away from disruptive short-term and scattered marketing tactics, to instead examine our responsibility as marketers to support brands to be more sustainable overall.

Just as the industry moved away from “interruption” techniques like cold calling in favor of value-led inbound communication, many marketers are now looking to take this a step further and define more sustainable strategies: aligning with the shift toward conscientious business practices and supporting companies to establish long-term, scalable and meaningful success.

What Is Sustainable Marketing?

Despite its recent rise, sustainable marketing is an evolving concept.

HBS talks about sustainability in business meaning “doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.” Gradually, sustainable marketing has grown from meaning marketing for environmental companies, to encompass more of the societal and business connotations.

Some marketers are now using the concept to challenge marketing practices they view as unsustainable. Adanma Onuoha from NBS embodies this when she says, “The profit-centric nature of traditional marketing is reinforced by the ‘rewards’ marketers get for hitting specific targets. But as business sustainability awareness spreads, marketers are beginning to question the traditional form of marketing.”

While others are working to more closely define a sustainable marketing approach. Philip Kotler introduced the idea that “the concept of sustainable marketing holds that an organization should meet the needs of its present consumers without compromising the ability of future generations to fulfill their own needs,” which touches more on the long-lasting impact of marketing activity.

Whichever way you look at it, people are rethinking how we market, asking if there’s a better way, and challenging marketing’s role as an influencer of wider business models. Here are some key approaches and outcomes of sustainable marketing.

Related Article: A Recipe for Building Brand Value in an Era of Disruption

Sustained Results

It’s about ensuring continued success, by building longevity for the business and commercial results.

Looking at sustained results doesn’t have to mean compromising on speed; it means just not putting it first. For example, starting by laying a strategic foundation may not reap immediate return, but it will keep giving back in terms of consistent and continued results.

Positive Impact

Positive impact could mean a lot of things, but a good place to start is to think about sustainable marketing as a fundamental part of sustainable business practices as a whole. Tim Bansal presents the challenging idea that, “as marketers, we must consider how our combined activities contribute to the sustainability of the whole ecosystem.” It wouldn’t be a reach to suggest that as B Corp standards become commonplace, businesses may be measured on their marketing due diligence.

Or coming back to the original HBS definition of sustainability, maybe we need to think about the carbon footprint of our marketing practices as well. For example, accumulating all the latest tech isn’t environmentally cheap.

Related Article: 4 Ways Sustainability Affects the Customer Experience

Scalable Infrastructure

Taking the time to build an infrastructure that’s designed to scale not only allows, but helps, your business to grow. This can encompass everything from training your people to creating repeatable campaign workflows.



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