…how sustainability and marketing lived happily ever after

There has been some talk lately about green marketing being over (yes, that was Joel Makover), and some concern among experts that this would provide companies a (wrong) reason for giving up on sustainability.

My feeling is that, if green marketing is over, it is in good company, because traditional marketing has been over for a much longer time. I am not only talking about media outlets but also tools, messages, style and above all the soul of marketing. Let’s take advertising: any 5-year-old understands its tricks and secrets, and most people of any age have a skeptical attitude towards advertising.

Delighting customers requires much more than some creative thought. Consumers have taken over, marketing is in their hands, they promote a company through recommendations and reviews, and they select and elect the companies for their behavior, their transparency, their openness and reliability. And then they share, in their own way, through networks that are connected to other networks, worldwide. And if you think they will talk about you because of your nice story, well you are wrong. They will because you provide them with something that they can mold to fit their life and make them more interesting.

Is it still important for a company to receive attention or is it more valuable to have a reputation? Don’t even begin the struggle to get attention, engage to get a reputation. Reputation will enable you rather than communicate with your customers, to talk with them. The first rule of reputation is telling the truth, for better or for worse. But the truth about a company’s environmental performance is no fairytale; it is facts and numbers, recognized standards, scientific principles and methodologies providing measurable results which are relevant, accurate, specific, verified and substantiated.

The how and the when go hand in hand. Be patient and don’t rush: is sustainability part of your priorities, is somebody in charge of it, do you have a sustainability plan in place, are you using rigorous tools and principles, are you measuring improvements, is your effort involving all aspects of your business and is it a project shared by all employees? Well, now you can start the talk. Be humble, don’t teach lessons, and be relevant. Go back to the definition of words and their nuances, and use them meaningfully. Rather cut down than overdo.

A fellow countryman of mine, called Leonardo, full name Leonardo da Vinci, once wrote that “Although human subtlety conceives various inventions…it will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct that does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous”. 500 years later this idea is still more than innovative, it is visionary. Because, in Leonardo’s own words, “What is essential is perfect”.

Beatrice Bortolozzo

Environmental communicator and sustainability paths expert at 2B Srl

Beatrice Bortolozzo is a co-founder of 2B Srl (SimaPro partner in Italy). She specializes in sustainability paths, Social-LCA, Life Cycle Thinking and sustainability communication. She loves innovative thinking, sustainably creative experiences and has a passion for books, studying foreign languages, and cycling in the countryside.

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