It was interesting to see the reaction when we sat down and discussed that this month we’d talk about ‘Sustainable Marketing“. The first question that came to the fore was “What actually is Sustainable Marketing?

It’s a good question and one that would suggest comes with a range of answers. Needless to say, its definition has changed quite dramatically over time and in today’s socially connected world, it’s taken on a new aspect that is very much more public.

In a nut shell, sustainable marketing is about the environmental, economic and social impacts an organisation has on its surroundings. Now don’t get mistaken for this to be some ‘hippy’ or ‘greeny’ movement. It’s a case of ensuring that the impact you’re having on the market and your environment is sustainable.

While the concept is not new, it’s becoming more important simply due to the growth in the ‘voice of the people’. Social media has created a platform for disenfranchised individuals to have a stage, voicing their opinions and creating awareness of situations.

Like any power, there are pros and cons, but it’s also made business wake up a little that the bigger the impact they have (positively or negatively) the more likely it is someone will notice and people will talk about it.

While your business may not be a target like McDonalds, Nike or more recently Holden, that doesn’t mean to say you’re not having an impact and that you shouldn’t be concerned with sustainable marketing.

While many organisations focus on the external aspects of sustainable marketing, it’s really about what you’re doing inside your organisation. If your focus is on developing sustainability for the company, its people, your clients and the surroundings, then the external aspects begin to take care of themselves.

Importantly, from a marketing perspective, this develops a range of unique aspects about your business which can be used to separate you from your competition (yes…this is where the marketing comes in!)

It’s a careful balance of doing the right thing because it has a greater benefit and ensuring that enough consumers know of those efforts. The key is developing these actions with the impacts in mind first and worrying about marketing them second. There is little benefit in simply applying sustainable functions just to gain kudos. Consumers are much too savvy to fall for this and again, in the socially connected world, you can get caught out quickly.

As we head into a season of giving and reflection, perhaps it’s an opportunity for us all to take some time to look at our own organisations and plan for our sustainability into the future. How can we make our businesses more sustainable across all 3 areas of impact – environmental, economic and social? How do we ensure we’re marketing these actions appropriately? And how does this benefit everyone – business, consumers and our surroundings?

Big questions going into the Festive Season I know…but something that I hope has a positive impact on your new year. Merry Christmas.