Sustainability has calmed down as a buzzword as consumers are now looking for actions over words when businesses claim they are “green” or “carbon-neutral”. Being a consumer in the world of greenwashing has led to a deep mistrust in green marketing which requires businesses to step up their words to actions and communicate how they stand out in a numerical and honest way.
Honesty, compassion, and community are big winners in the communication of good business practices which allows small businesses to bolster their reputation with hyper-local connections and genuine relationships with clients and customers. Building a sustainability plan or energy plan for your business from the ground up and incorporating sustainability into your mission has the opportunity to attract a larger audience from the upstart, but even if sustainability is an afterthought for your business, there are still many ways to promote your reforms and attract those clients that are specifically looking for a business incorporating social and environmental ethics.
Getting the word out can be as easy as increasing your signage or social media posts, but having the opportunity to connect with people searching for a sustainable business when they are nearby is the best way to ensure a high ROI in your advertising. Outbound marketing, like ad space in a magazine, can only make it so far when a consumer is facing the decision making phase of their purchasing journey. If they are not looking directly at the ad when they’re in need, how will they remember you?
The facts are simply that you need to have an inbound approach in which people think you stand out and sustainability is just the thing. Be it 100% renewable energy purchasing, energy efficiency upgrades, or even committing to good purchasing practices, getting your initiatives on your social media and business review sites like Yelp or Google can help identify you as the type of business people can get behind.
What is the impact of sustainability on ROI for a small business? In many ways, we know the figures; searches for “green” local businesses have increased significantly in the past couple of years converting into purchases, businesses built on ethical practices are receiving more PR for their trail-blazing, and more executive teams are choosing to certify their teams as a B-corps or the like. The immeasurable statistics are also persuasive. Knowing the difference between a 4 and 5 star review could be as much as $50,000 profit each year for a restaurant, leveraging improvements you’ve already made to your environmental mission can improve your image and the sense of pride a guest may have.
Taking simple steps to work towards carbon neutrality can mean thousands of dollars saved operationally, but the real return is in the direct impact your community can feel, see, and thank you for.