Gen Z and millennials LOHAS consumers are tech-savvy and resourceful. Social entrepreneurs cannot market their products and services through classic (read outdated) marketing tactics. Irrespective of your business domain, the target audience for your social enterprise strives to become responsible consumers, and they are willing to pay extra for products by ethical brands.
Your audience is eager to support your socially responsible business and play their part in the betterment of the world. However, greenwashing has made them skeptical and for a social enterprise to win their trust is the only sure-shot way to win their business and their hearts. Therefore, you must connect with your audience through content that increases your online visibility and builds your credibility.
Here are a few fail-proof ways you should market your sustainable and eco-friendly businesses for long-term support and deep-rooted fellowship.
1. Share Your Story
If there has ever been a time to toot your own horn, this is that moment! Your story is your most significant unique selling point (USP), so take your audience for a ride and share your story with them candidly.
Tell them what inspired you to start your brand, how you did it, and what you plan for the future.
People love stories, especially responsible consumers, want to know you in and out before they buy from you. Show them the person behind the brand and build strong relationships with your audience on a human level. You can also share your story on social media platforms.
New Zealand’s famous Manuka honey brand, Watson & Son, uses its story as an opportunity to introduce its owner Jude Salisbury’s background in natural health and skincare. It also explains to its readers why NZ Manuka honey is unique, why people should buy from them, and how they play their part in saving the environment.
2. Get the Right Certifications
It’s 2021, every brand claims to be sustainable, and people are wary of greenwashing. If you wish to win their trust, you need to flaunt your eco-certificates on your website.
Based on your niche and the cause you support, you need to get related certifications, preferably from third-party certificating bodies. For example, if you claim to be sustainable or claim to sell organic products, you need to have associated certificates like GOTS.
Following are some of the certificates that you can get for your social enterprise.
If there are no certifications for your social endeavor, get official endorsements from related eco-organization. Share the news via a press release and post on your blog, newsroom, and social channel.
3. Recruit Audience As Volunteers
Involve your audience in your social or environmental projects. For example, you can host a tree-planting event and bring volunteers from your audience to come together and plant trees. Such events can generate buzz and goodwill through press coverage, social media trending, and blog stories.
The Team Trees used this exact formula involving the public in a large-scale activity and planting 23,061,767 trees! Mr. Beast and many other influencers also joined the campaign. Such community-based activities create a ton of user-generated content around your brand, attract influencers, and advance your social projects‒a win-win-win situation indeed!
4. Encourage Feedback From the Audience
Asking your audience what they think of your products can provide you valuable insight and decrease your costs overtime via meticulous application of targeted feedback. Audience feedback can also be a great way to start conversations around your brand. Here are some ideas.
– You can create social media posts and polls in light of the feedback.
– You can announce the arrival of a feature your audience has been asking you about.
– You can write blog posts to clarify your stance about negative feedback.
For instance, see how Andrea Breeman has used negative criticism about her stance to create new content.
You can collect audience opinion via surveys, live chat support, expos, email drip campaigns, and user research studies. Offer rewards like Office Depot to encourage customers to leave reviews and to recycle their products.
5. Host Competitions and Giveaways
Opening up a contest to everyone, not just your employees, can help you expand your customer base. Competitions and giveaways give an incentive to people to interact with your brand. They’re fun, and what’s better than the chance to win something! Competitions also amplify user-generated content that makes your brand more memorable to people.
Plus, if you want to build your email list, produce more sales and leads, or increase the traffic to your website, holding a contest is the easiest way to do so. However, remember to keep your giveaways and contests in line with your social promise not to violate the values that you preach.
6. Donate to Charities
Look for charities and causes related to your mission and show up with your wallet. Try to allocate a specific portion of your sales to a few organizations to win people’s trust. It’s a win-win for you since you can write off your donations and earn support from your audience at the same time. You can write many blogs, social media posts and get user-generated content around the causes supported by these organizations.
Patagonia, for instance, regularly supports many causes such as Grassroots Environmental Groups, Public Lands and Waters, Boundary Waters Wilderness Act, and Bears Ears National Monument.
7. Use Merch To Advance Your Social Cause
If you don’t want to talk about your eco-standards constantly, let your merch do the talking. Design products that reflect your cause, such as limited edition cups, slogan T-shirts, etc.
The Save Our Species collection by Lacoste is an inspiring example. Lacoste replaced its iconic crocodile logo with endangered species as a part of its partnership with the IUCN. The number of polo shirts representing each species corresponds to the number of that species present in the word.
8. Build Eco-Partnerships
You can find plenty of eco-friendly organizations to partner with, and the chances are that they could use your help as well. Look for organizations whose mission aligns with your sustainable objectives and eco-friendly goals, ask them what you can do to lend a helping hand, and market yourself through the partnership.
Timberland keeps expanding its partnerships by signing pledges such as the Generation T pledge, aligning with internal stakeholders to develop, implement, and market its green marketing strategy. The PENSOLE Academy™ and BRAG (Black Retail Action Group) are Timberland’s most prominent partners.
9. Support Social and Environmental Initiatives
You can support a hot environmental issue by hosting events that support the efforts of relevant organizations. Stand for a cause such as The Body Shop stands for defending the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community, promoting AIDS awareness and domestic violence, etc.
It’s a great way to get organic marketing due to press coverage and exposure as a cause-driven business. You can generate a ton of content around such initiatives, whether your support a social cause or an environmental initiative. You can use your blog and social media channels to spread awareness about the cause and/or help out on the ground with your team.
Tom’s of Maine and their #GREENSCHOOLFUND is another excellent example. They fund school campaigns that teach students how to play their part in creating a cleaner environment.
10. Be Transparent
Be honest with your audience about the extent of your involvement in various ethical, eco-friendly, or green initiatives. Don’t try to cover up any shortcomings.
Bringing a positive change takes time. For example, you cannot make your business 100% sustainable in a day. Keep your community aware of your limitations, write blogs about your efforts and challenges, and they will appreciate your honesty.
For instance, Patagonia admits that it uses fossil fuels to make the shells of its coats. But this hasn’t affected its positive image because of the transparency.
11. Provide Evidence
Share the results of your efforts on your website. You can write blogs and give proof in the form of statistics, images, and videos. For example, Urban Rivers create a lot of content to showcase their Trashbot’s contributions in keeping the waterways clean.
Similarly, if you’re a delivery service company and you switch to electric cars, brag about it in a blog post. Numbers are persuasive. You can really nerd it out by calculating how much carbon dioxide emissions people save with each order they place with you. Send it with their order confirmation note.
12. Let People Know About Your Long-Term Plans
You cannot solve environmental and social problems in a single day. Once the plan is in ink, lay it out on your website for your audience to know you’re in for the long haul. Write detailed posts about how you’ve dedicated considerable time and resources to your mission.
The essence of marketing as a social entrepreneur is to champion the cause your business stands for, your brand’s USP. Your story and authenticity can be two significant reasons why people choose your brand over your competition. So, let your passion shine through your content and connect with your audience with honesty and authority to gain a maximum following for your social enterprise.