What Is Sustainable Marketing?®

Since the turn of century, we’ve seen a significant shift towards a focus on the concept of sustainability, and largely how it applies to environmental issues. Nearly everywhere you turn there is a new discussion about environmental sustainability, and new methods being developed to implement across a wide variety of industries.

Before we move further, consider first what the term ‘sustainable’ really means. Sustainable, broadly, has two definitions:

  1. Capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting resources; and
  2. Pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse.

Sustainability in the Context of Marketing

You should realize that sustainability, and more specifically, Sustainable Marketing® is not just about taking steps to appear more socially responsible or environmentally friendly. Instead, it is about creating a system of branding, promotion, and advertising that is repeatable and focuses on long-term results. It involves thoughtful planning, effective implementation, and continuous improvement.

Basic Examples of Sustainable Marketing Practices

What, then, are some common examples of marketing practices that could be considered sustainable? While this list is not exhaustive, the following practices will create sustained long-term value for your business:

Why are these considered sustainable? The answer is simple: they provide benefits to both you and your customers that compound over time and require less resources than traditional forms of marketing.

Unsustainable Marketing: A Contrast

Let’s look at unsustainable marketing. If sustainable marketing practices allow for the continual use of resources, their unsustainable counterparts do the opposite: deplete the resources of the organization over a period of time.

The following marketing practices may have certain benefits and may work for a while, but once you stop paying for new ads, that's it, you're done.

  • Coupons;
  • Media advertising, on TV, radio, magazines, or other forms of media;
  • Cold calling; and
  • Direct mail.

Why would these forms of advertising be considered unsustainable?

Consider the benefits to both the organization and the consumer; specifically, how long do they last? Unlike more sustainable practices, like content creation or organic SEO, which provide benefits for an indefinite period of time, or for as long as the organization exists, unsustainable practices offer one-time benefits for a one-time payment. The organization must expend a set amount of resources for one of these methods, and, at the conclusion, the advertising stops. In this case, all the money spent on one form of advertisement won’t provide any lasting benefit, beyond its initial length.

Consider the use of TV ads. Any marketer knows that TV ads are expensive; however, they can be humorous, thought-provoking, or simply appeal to a wide range of emotions. And, for as long as the TV ad is running (and the payment continues), the business may see results but, they generally fall short of expectations (even if the ad is well done).

But what happens when the ad is shut off? If the TV ad stops appearing, the organization will no longer see new customers at all, even if it spent heavily during the course of the ad’s run. Think about your own reaction to a TV advertisement; if you see it consistently, it may stick in your head for awhile. But let’s be honest – very few people remember TV ads that stopped running months ago.

Now, I invite you to re-read the previous two paragraphs and replace the word 'TV' with 'Radio', 'Magazine', 'Coupon', then 'Direct Mail'. You will quickly see why these methods of advertising are unsustainable.

So What’s the Difference?

To put it simply, Sustainable Marketing® has compounding benefits for both the company and the consumer. Think of Sustainable Marketing® as an investment in the business. Conversely, unsustainable marketing provides short term, more immediate benefits that quickly lose value. Think of unsustainable marketing as an expense.

Unsustainable marketing vs sustainable marketing.

Why Sustainable Marketing® is the Best Option for Your Organization

Many companies find it difficult to stray from forms of unsustainable marketing practices and try out this new realm of sustainability. The reasoning is understandable; many unsustainable marketing practices are those traditional forms that have been used by businesses for decades, including coupons, TV and radio ads, and even cold calling. Moving away from these systems requires an entire restructuring of the way the organization views the concept of advertising.

But while the transition may prove difficult initially, it's ultimately an essential step to take for any business wishing to utilize the most efficient forms of marketing that promise long-term benefit for themselves and their customers.

Sustainable Marketing® in Practice: Check Out the Numbers

It is far too easy to tout the benefits of sustainable marketing over its unsustainable counterparts without providing statistics to demonstrate its use. But, in fact, there are plenty of statistics that help shed light on the strength of sustainable practices for businesses interested in long-lasting yields.

According to DemandGen, 95% of B2B buyers consider content as trustworthy when evaluating a company and its offerings (1). That means sustainable content marketing such as blog articles, how-to videos, eBooks and white papers are considered quality research material that B2B businesses consult before making a buying decision.

Further statistics highlight a trend that sheds positive light on certain forms of Sustainable Marketing®.

One source shows that 78% of industrial buyers turn to suppliers’ websites during research, 70% use search engines like Google, and 53% talk to colleagues (2). That means keeping a consistently updated website with substantial, quality material that appeals to your ideal buyer is paramount to staying relevant to today’s buyers’ market. It also shows that digital marketing means (that are often, you guessed it, sustainable) are far more relevant in today’s world than more traditional, and yes, unsustainable means.

Finally, take a moment to contemplate the following statistics:

  • 98% of advertisers are wasting money on display ads (3);
  • Marketing technology spend is now higher than advertising spend for companies (4);
  • Only 29% of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, while 62% will consult a search engine (4).

What does this all mean?

Current and potential customers do not respond well to obvious and direct forms of marketing that appear forced and insincere. Instead, individuals prefer to discover content through other more gradual, “natural” methods. In other words, we tend to show a preference for content that has substance and use, rather than paid advertisements that simply solicit.

How does this affect you and your organization?

There’s an appropriate mix between traditional and digital marketing. However, it needs to be pointed out that every marketing effort made in a marketing strategy must be sustainable--a long-term investment in the company that grows and builds on itself over time. Just as the world turns to sustainable practices to save our environment, so too will the public gravitate towards marketing efforts with a focus on long-term and lasting benefits for all.

To put it simply, Sustainable Marketing® is the future.

We’re here to help you on your next leg of your business journey. We'd love it if you reached out to us for a free 20 minute phone consultation to discuss your current marketing strategy and to learn about how you can improve it immediately. Feel free to learn about the services we offer and what exactly sustainable marketing means to us.

Will your next marketing campaign create lasting value for your organization?


  1. https://www.demandgenreport.com/resources/research/2016-content-preferences-survey-b2b-buyers-value-content-that-offers-data-and-analysis
  2. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-apac/ad-channel/search/b2b-buyers-online-and-offline/
  3. https://unbounce.com/ppc/poor-message-match/
  4. https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

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What is Sustainable Marketing?

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