Why Selling Sustainability Must Not be an Inconvenient Truth

“Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that… The future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends on us” – David Attenborough, 2018

Matilda Rose Moir

We can all agree that the world we live in is in the midst of an environmental crisis. With rising CO2 levels, extreme weather conditions and climate breakdown, we are facing a global crisis – and we need to fix it. Sustainability has never been more important yet the bridge between knowledge and action is far from closing. And as passionate (still learning) advocates, we strive to spend every day expanding our environmental awareness for Incubeta, our people and the wider industry. 

Positive, transparent change is needed – which calls for inclusive, inspirational and emotive marketing to illicit worldwide action. As marketers we know the importance of winning over the hearts and minds of our audience to truly instigate engagement – knowledge that makes us question the current creative outputs and somewhat rash methods of specific environmental campaigners we’ve seen over the last 2 years.

We live in a fast-paced environment of digital literacy, instant gratification and steadily burgeoning consumer demand – an ecosystem where inconvenience doesn’t sell. Yet a minority of campaigners are using inconvenience as a means of creating noise; taking actions that certainly draw attention but most likely cause damage to the message they wish to champion. Considerable change is needed to fix our climate – yet how achievable is that change really going to be if we chose to divide rather than unite?

Just this month a local mother of one was left partially paralyzed after experiencing a stroke and being denied immediate medical assistance due to climate-change protests on the M25 delaying her trip to hospital by six hours. Irrevocable, and life-changing damage as a repercussion of activists striving for a new world of love, respect and regeneration. Activists who are now facing legal charges and possible jail time due to their actions.

As important a cause as it is, the methods by which some environmental campaigners are attempting to generate awareness and buzz is a risk to the positive change they ultimately wish to instigate. We need an approach that inspires people to work together.

With the future of our planet on the line, safeguarding our future is a conversation that we all need to be having. We live in a digital world rife with opportunity, and as global experts in the marketing industry, we know what works, but more importantly, what doesn’t work. 

Selling sustainability should focus on positivity. Advertising electric cars as faster, quieter and cheaper than their fuel-based counterparts. Recommending a video conference over a business trip as something that saves people time for the things that really matter, such as family. Agreeing that the vegan parts of the menu are often more flavoursome and nutritional than the bog standard cheeseburger…

The power of marketing, and the power of digital has the potential to drive real change for our world; and here’s how.

Noise Together with Action

It goes without saying that noise without action is a waste of time and resources on all accounts. As is choosing noise over substance. It’s not enough to get people’s attention, you need to guide your audience in the right direction – building valuable relationships, and providing actionable takeaways along the way. You want your consumers to digest the concepts you present, process them, and ultimately change their lifestyle because of it. Not too dissimilar to the path-to-purchase, the fight against climate change should be viewed as a path-to-action and with that comes the need to educate, engage and relate with one’s target audience.

Consider an approach that combines the value of physical retail, with the opportunities that digital presents. An omnichannel experience.

Learn More About Omni Channel Optimization

Replacing Inconvenience with Convenience

We are more receptive and responsive to ‘lighter, less intrusive experiences’ as a whole – with intrusive being the operative word. Regardless of the situation, if we’re served an experience that is inconvenient, demanding of our time or irrelevant then we won’t engage with said experience or brand and that resource is effectively wasted.

Customer experience is critical to the success of your business (or in this case, cause) and serving inconvenient disruption after inconvenient disruption as a means of marketing is purely at the detriment of your brand perception. Which in turn negatively affects your performance.

If you provide your audience with a positive, friendly and memorable customer experience it minimizes friction, maximizes efficiency and harbours loyalty. 

Tapping into the Industry’s CSR

All businesses need to engage in Corporate Social Responsibility, and this can come in many forms; be it charitable global giving, diversity, equity and inclusion or reducing their carbon footprint. We all need to be more sustainable, make environmentally friendly choices, and take action but sometimes that’s easier said than done – and often large corporations face a social, and ethical conundrum when it comes to the climate change crisis. Not recognising or implementing the best plan of action. And with this comes a level of opportunity that environmental activists can tap into; collaborating with global businesses to create circumstances where both parties are satisfied with the outcomes.  

Commutable, Consumable Media

Consider the power of positive, emotive and consumable content. Content that makes a commute memorable for the right reasons. Video and/or other forms of media are excellent tools for lead generation and brand awareness with 9/10 consumers wishing that more brands experimented with video content. 

Media is a powerful medium to convey a message, and when used appropriately can result in a 79% increase in consumer engagement and is twice as likely to be shared by viewers than any other type of content (such as social media, blogs or product pages). 

One need only look at Google trends to see that search interest for sustainability has peaked over the last half a decade – comparing data from 2016 to 2021. We’ve come a long way in 5 years, but we need to acknowledge that considerable change is still needed to truly fix our climate and ecological emergency and secure our future.

https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=GB

To start, and finish with David Attenborough, there are 7 actions humanity can take right now to save the world:

  • Put people and planet before profit
  • Replace oil with renewable energy.
  • Embrace a sustainable lifestyle
  • Create no-fishing zones in the ocean
  • Farm smarter and eat less meat
  • Protect the forests
  • Raise people out of poverty to slow population growth

Combined with the knowledge of the industry, and the power of digital marketing we have the ability to truly instigate change – and it’s about time we started.

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