Marketing in the Climate Age: A Guide for Responsible Communication

Marketers have a unique role and responsibility in addressing climate change. With their ability to shape consumer behavior and public opinion, marketers can be powerful advocates for sustainability. Whether it’s through sustainable marketing practices, educating consumers, collaborating with other brands, or promoting internal sustainability, marketers have numerous opportunities to make a difference. Here are some tips to help marketers incorporate sustainability into their work and contribute to the fight against climate change.

1. Sustainable Marketing Practices:

Tip 1: Understand the concept of green marketing.

Resources like “The New Rules of Green Marketing”, “Speak Up Now!“, “Green to Gold” or “The Green Marketing Manifesto”. These will be a comprehensive guide in understanding this topic.

Tip 2: Incorporate sustainability into your marketing strategy.

Showcase your brand’s commitment to the environment in your messaging. A good example is Patagonia, which clearly communicates its mission to save the planet in all marketing materials. They demonstrate transparency through their ‘Footprint Chronicles‘, which allow customers to trace the environmental impact of products. They also encourage sustainable consumer behavior with their ‘Worn Wear‘ program promoting used product purchases.”

Tip 3: Use sustainable materials for your marketing collateral.

Choose digital over physical where possible, and if printing is necessary, opt for recycled paper and eco-friendly inks.

Choosing Digital Over Physical: Digital marketing materials, such as emails or social media posts, have a much lower environmental impact than physical materials like flyers or mailers. Digital marketing eliminates the need for paper and the energy used to produce and distribute physical materials. Plus, digital marketing can often reach a wider audience at a lower cost.

Sustainable Printing Practices: If you do need to print marketing materials, there are several ways to make it more sustainable. One is to use recycled paper, which requires fewer trees and less energy to produce than virgin paper. Look for paper with a high post-consumer waste (PCW) content, as this is the most environmentally friendly option. Another way is to use eco-friendly inks, such as vegetable-based inks, which are less harmful to the environment than petroleum-based inks.

Sustainable Design: You can also make your marketing materials more sustainable through the design. For example, designing materials to be smaller or double-sided can reduce the amount of paper needed. Also, consider the lifespan of the material. Designing timeless materials that can be used for a long period of time reduces the need for frequent reprints.

Incorporating these practices into your marketing strategy can reduce your environmental footprint, demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, and appeal to eco-conscious consumers.

Tip 4: Conduct a sustainability audit of your marketing activities.

Identify areas where you can reduce waste and improve efficiency.

Identify Impact Areas: Start by identifying all the different aspects of your marketing activities. This could include everything from the materials used in print marketing, to the energy use of your digital marketing platforms, to the travel associated with events or meetings. Don’t forget to consider the full lifecycle of materials, including production, transport, use, and disposal.

Evaluate Environmental Impact: Once you’ve identified the different areas, evaluate their environmental impact. This might involve calculating the carbon footprint of different activities, assessing waste produced, or considering other environmental impacts such as water use or pollution. Tools like CarbonCloud can help with this.

Being transparent about your products’ environmental impact means providing clear, accessible information about how your products affect the environment. This can include information about the raw materials used, the manufacturing process, the supply chain, and the product’s end of life.

CarbonCloud is an example of a tool that can help with this. It’s a software platform that enables companies to analyze and disclose the carbon footprint of their products. The platform uses life cycle assessment data to calculate the carbon footprint from raw material extraction to end-of-life.

For example, if you’re a food manufacturer, CarbonCloud can help you calculate the carbon emissions associated with each ingredient in your product, from the field to the store. This data can be displayed on your product packaging or on your website, allowing consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase.

By being transparent about your products’ environmental impact, you can build trust with consumers and demonstrate your commitment to sustainability. It’s a key part of any sustainable marketing strategy.

Identify Opportunities for Improvement: Look for opportunities to reduce environmental impact and improve efficiency. This might involve switching to more sustainable materials, optimizing digital platforms to reduce energy use, or implementing more efficient processes.

Develop an Action Plan: Based on your findings, develop an action plan to implement the changes. This should include clear goals, steps for achieving them, and metrics for measuring progress.

Regularly Review and Update: Sustainability is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. Regularly review and update your audit to reflect changes in your marketing activities and the latest best practices in sustainability.

2. Advocacy and Collaboration:

Tip 1: Advocate for climate-friendly policies in your industry.

Join industry associations that lobby for sustainable practices.

Tip 2: Collaborate with other companies to promote sustainability.

Partnerships can lead to innovative solutions and make a larger impact.

Tip 3: Support climate-related causes and events.

Sponsor local community clean-ups or climate change awareness events. An example can be river cleanup.

Tip 4: Align your brand with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Unilever’s “Sustainable Living” plan a comprehensive strategy that was launched in 2010 with the aim of decoupling the company’s growth from its environmental impact, while increasing its positive social impact. The plan is centered around three key goals to be achieved by 2020 is an excellent example.

Tip 5: Share your sustainability journey.

Keep consumers updated about your progress and future plans.

4. Internal Sustainability:

Tip 1: Foster a culture of sustainability within your organization.

Encourage employees to adopt green practices at work.

Tip 2: Incorporate sustainability in your employee training programs.

Offer workshops and resources to help employees understand their role in sustainability.

Tip 3: Set and track sustainability targets.

Make these part of your overall business goals.

Tip 4: Opt for sustainable options for corporate gifting and events.

Choose eco-friendly gifts and organize green events.

Tip 5: Encourage sustainable commuting.
Offer incentives for carpooling, biking, or using public transportation.

By incorporating sustainability into their practices, marketers can significantly contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. It’s not just good for the planet, but also resonates with consumers and can boost brand reputation.