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Challenges That Are Unique to Sustainable Marketing and How to Overcome Them

Your purpose-driven organization is thinking outside of the box to make the world better. Similarly, your marketing efforts may also need some “out of the box” thinking to effectively communicate your impact and convince customers that you’re the environmentally and socially-conscious choice. Here’s Sparx’s guide to overcoming challenges that are unique to sustainable marketing.

/ 5 mins / SparxTeam

Taking the road less travelled to make the world better may result in a bumpier ride along the way. Your purpose-driven organization is likely no stranger to unique challenges like sourcing sustainable materials or getting certified (for example, through Greenguard or B Corp). 

But in the end, you know that it’s all worth it, because you’re making tangible and positive impacts on not just people, but the planet.

However, just because you know your organization is doing the right thing, that doesn’t always mean customers know. When it comes to convincing people to choose your company, you may face specialized marketing challenges as a purpose-driven organization. Here’s our guide to overcoming them.

Communicate Your Value to Customers

Brands that pay fair wages, use sustainable materials, and have ethical production processes usually incur higher operational costs, so generally charge more for products that may also have an inexpensive “fast factory-made” counterpart. 

Money-conscious customers may be tempted by the cheaper option, so you’ll need to communicate your value and impact.

It’s a good idea to include an “About” page on your website that showcases your backstory, goals, and impacts. Periodically share this page and related content on your social media platforms, emails, and advertisements to educate new customers and remind existing customers of the impact of your good work.

Kotn, a B Corp-certified Canadian clothing retailer, is a great example of how to do this. Check out their About page here

Another way to let customers know that they’re making the more sustainable, ethical choice is to inform them of the impact they have by choosing your products or organization. For example, US shoe retailer Thousand Fell shows the driving emissions avoided, bulb energy saved, and plastic bottles recycled for each product, so customers know their individual impact before purchasing. 

Rise to the Challenge of Meeting Higher Customer Expectations

Customers that are willing to choose an environmentally and socially conscious product generally have higher expectations, as they’re potentially paying more and waiting longer for their product.

It’s a good idea to ensure your marketing-adjacent user experiences, such as your website and your customer service channels, are solid and easy to use, so customer satisfaction is not only met, but exceeded. 

It’s also important to remember that these are well-researched, well-educated customers, which means they’ll likely be able to sniff out any potential marketing disingenuity, like greenwashing. Always be completely transparent and honest with your processes and efforts.

Stand Out From the Competition

Whether it’s for altruism or to keep up with increasing consumer demand, more brands are entering or transforming themselves to fit into an environmentally and socially conscious marketplace. 

The Global Sustainability Study 2021 found that “Globally, 85 percent of people indicate that they have shifted their purchase behavior towards being more sustainable in the past five years.”

While this is great for people and the planet, it also means increased competition for your organization. You can set yourself apart from the competition by focusing on what makes your company unique – and get specific.

Have you innovated an existing product? For example, SAYE is a shoe brand that uses “leather” made from cactuses. Have you innovated on the process? For example, Canadian furniture brand Pivot has a circular approach to their manufacturing by using reclaimed materials for their furniture, and they also have a made-to-order option. Communicate these differences, and their impacts, through your marketing efforts.

Another important way to set your purpose-driven organization apart is through your branding. Make sure you have a distinct visual identity (i.e. logo, fonts, imagery, and colour palette), and tone of voice that fits with your values and resonates with customers. Here are some examples of eco-friendly companies who have memorable branding. 

Keeping up with trends can also ensure that you’re also keeping up with (or getting ahead of) the competition. Check out some Marketing Trends to Look Out for in 2022.

Time and Budget Constraints? Plan Marketing Efforts Strategically

For purpose-driven organizations, tasks like developing aligned partnerships, working towards or maintaining certifications, and developing new sustainable products may take up the lion’s share of your time and budget. However, you can still employ sustainable marketing tactics strategically, even if you don’t have a lot of time or resources.

Whether you want to drive website traffic, grow your social media audience, and/or convert prospective customers, here’s how to up your marketing game on a budget

Choose Sparx to Elevate Your Sustainable Marketing

You’re making the world better and we want to help you do it. 

If you’re looking to elevate your sustainable marketing, the experts at Sparx Publishing Group are always available to chat. We help purpose-driven organizations secure their website, create great content, build experiences to delight their customers, and help grow their business, all within a variety of budgets. You can reach us here.


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