Attainable Sustainability: Marketing 101 for CMOs

Recent studies suggest that sustainability is now a core revenue driver for companies as more and more consumers are spending based on their values. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) oversee a company’s public face and hold a great deal of influence over the consumer traffic flowing towards the business. Learning how to market your sustainability is only becoming more important as consumer trends continue to shift.

Communicating sustainability is a challenge for marketers. Businesses have to ensure that they’re being transparent about their environmental commitments and sustainability jargon can be complex and cumbersome (eg. ‘net-zero’ versus ‘carbon neutral’). 

More often than not, explaining sustainability initiatives and goals to clients and potential customers falls on a company’s marketing arm. Marketers have an opportunity to optimize their sustainability ROI by clearly communicating their ideas. Recent trends suggest that not only are consumers across all demographics preferring companies that prioritize sustainability, consumers are also willing to pay more for sustainable products and services. 

In fact, 74% of consumers want to improve their impact on the environment and 57% are willing to spend more money on sustainable products

Now more than ever, it is in your business’s best interests to effectively market and showcase your climate initiatives. Some studies suggest that "overall sales revenue can increase by up to 20% due to social responsibility practices"

Marketing sustainability can be tricky… 

The tone your business sets when discussing climate initiatives is important to maintaining your brand reputation. No business wants to be accused of greenwashing — the practice of viewing sustainability as a talking point without actively engaging in sustainability initiatives. Greenwashing can occur when a business looks at engaging with sustainability as a box that needs to be checked. No consumer wants to feel like they’re being tricked into supporting a particular business, so ensure that your sustainability initiatives are rooted in the correct values and are being promoted sincerely. 44% of investors and 20% of CMOs are concerned about the negative impacts of greenwashing on their public reputations and brand profitability. Across the board, companies and firms are looking for guidance on how to avoid the backlash that comes with promoting inconsistent sustainability goals.   


How do I talk about sustainability and steer clear of greenwashing?


Understanding and communicating sustainability as a journey rather than a destination is the first step to effective marketing. Remember, achieving your sustainable goals will be an incremental process so it is important to prioritize transparency, even if some achievements may not seem as noteworthy as others. Only the most well-resourced businesses are able to quickly ramp up ESG investments or offset millions of tonnes of carbon off the bat — your customers understand your circumstance so showcasing your contributions, regardless of size, will still make an impact. 


The What, When & Hows of Sustainability Communication


Speak specifically about your emissions data and simply about your initiatives. Second to completing a carbon assessment, publicizing how many metric tonnes of carbon you’re offsetting or planning to reducing is crucial to effectively and transparently communicating your long-term emissions goals. 


Outline the sustainability initiatives and projects you are undertaking across all levels of your business. Whether you’re engaging in in-office reduction strategies like updating your appliances to more energy-efficient models, switching to LED lights or changing company policy about providing meals, your clients are interested in knowing more about how you positively impact the planet. 



Global green holidays like World Environment Day and Earth Day are great opportunities to chime in about what your business is doing to positively impact the planet. 

Whenever your business is transitioning from one project to another, you should update your clients and the public on the outcome of the original project and prepare them on what is to come next. 

Whenever your business engages in an employee-centered sustainability initiative like a company tree planting or beach clean-up. 



Social media and your regular client communications are opportunities to incrementally update your clients and investors on your sustainability initiatives.

Adding a section to your annual company report that summarizes the initiatives undertaken in the past year and any updates shows clients, investors and the public that you’re genuinely interested in acting sustainably and are willing to be held accountable. 


How can Green Places help?


Green Places meets you where you are. Whether you’re starting from the beginning and need help measuring your carbon footprint or are seeking advice on developing reduction strategies, Green Places is your end-to-end sustainability partner. 

When you work with Green Places, you'll receive a sustainability badge asset that you 

can share on your channels as a way to let your customers know your commitment to green issues. We also provide customizable sustainability portfolios that outline your sustainability plan and reduction strategies and can be easily linked to your existing website. 


Finding the right words can be difficult. At Green Places, your business is assigned an account manager who can help you tell your story so that you feel confident in your business’s public sustainability commitments. 


Promoting sustainability can be a daunting task but by prioritizing actionability and transparency, you’ll show your customers that you’re willing to learn and excited to grow. 50% of CMOs are just in the preliminary stages of marketing their sustainability.

Let Green Places help you get ahead of the curve and set your business apart.


What is CDP and why does it matter?

Emissions reporting is on the way to becoming standard practice — in this article we break down what your business needs to know about a disclosure platform called Climate Disclosure Project or CDP.