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26 January 2024

Sustainable Marketing Begins With Better Marketing 

Marketing is a crucial aspect of any business, and sustainable marketing is a relatively new concept. Sustainable marketing involves creating strategies that benefit businesses, society, and the environment. However, for marketing to be sustainable, it must first be effective. It doesn't matter how eco-friendly the marketing materials you choose are; if your marketing doesn't work, it will ultimately be unsustainable for your budget in the long run. This is where better marketing comes into the picture.

What is Sustainable Marketing?


Sustainable marketing is a holistic approach aiming to create long-term value for the business, environment, and society. It emphasizes sustainable business practices that consider the social and environmental impacts of products, services, and operations. Sustainable marketing is based on the principles of the triple bottom line – people, planet, and profit – which means that businesses must focus on social and environmental responsibility and economic performance. Sustainable marketing aims to create a sustainable business model that is profitable and beneficial to society and our environment. 

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Lazy Marketing


Lazy marketing, on the other hand, is marketing without planning or targeting. It involves indiscriminately distributing marketing materials or messages without considering the intended audience or desired outcomes. Essentially, lazy marketing is throwing marketing efforts at the wall and hoping they stick. This type of marketing does not consider the needs or interests of the target market and can often result in a low return on investment or ineffective results. Lazy marketing often results in an organization concluding that an entire media channel, such as digital marketing or promotional product marketing, doesn't work when the absence of planning is the valid reason for failure.


The Environmental Impact of Lazy Marketing


Lazy marketing often results in the creation of excessive waste and pollution, which can harm our environment in multiple ways:

1. Waste Production: Lazy marketing can produce excessive waste through flyers, posters, and other promotional materials. Such materials often end up in landfills, causing pollution and harm to the natural environment.

2. Resource Depletion: Producing promotional materials requires using resources such as paper, water, and electricity. Overusing these resources can lead to a depletion of natural resources and contribute to further environmental challenges.

3. Carbon Footprint: The transportation and distribution of promotional materials increase organizations' carbon footprint. Mass production and distribution of advertising and promotional materials require fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

4. Harm to Wildlife: The careless disposal of promotional materials can threaten wildlife—plastic and other materials that do not biodegrade harm marine and land animals through ingestion and entanglement.

5. Habitat Destruction: The overuse of paper directly impacts the destruction of natural habitats worldwide. Many forests, especially in developing countries, are being cut down at an alarming rate to meet the demand for paper. Deforestation affects wildlife, bird species, and other flora and fauna that rely on natural habitats

Sustainable Marketing Begins With Better Marketing


Sustainable marketing begins with better marketing because it is essential to establish a strong marketing foundation to reduce waste in the marketing process. This involves understanding your target audience, their needs and values, and how the company's products or services can meet those needs while aligning with their values.

Once this foundation is established, practices can be implemented to reduce the company's operations' negative environmental and social impacts, increase efficiency, and promote sustainable practices. This can include using eco-friendly packaging, reducing energy usage, and promoting fair labour practices.

However, these practices must also align with the target audience's values and preferences, as consumers are increasingly aware of and concerned about environmental and social issues. By combining marketing effectiveness with sustainability, companies can improve their reputation, attract more socially and environmentally responsible consumers, and ultimately contribute to a better future for all. 

The Failures of Traditional Marketing


The purpose of marketing is to influence people to take a predetermined action, such as purchasing a product or service, joining you as an employee, donating to a cause or taking social action. Marketing is a critical component of any business or organization, as it helps promote awareness of products, services, or causes.

However, traditional marketing seems to have accepted some fact that out of all the resources a company throws at them, only a tiny percentage of its audience will convert to paying customers, happy employees, generous donors, or advocates who take action toward social or environmental change. 

A man crossing his fingers implying that his marketing strategy is simple 'hope'

1. Increasing Consumer Awareness: Consumers are becoming more aware of the negative impacts of unsustainable production and consumption practices on our environment and society. They expect brands to take responsibility and make more sustainable choices in their marketing strategies.

2. Regulatory Pressures: Governments and regulatory bodies are also taking action to promote more sustainable business practices. This includes regulations on product labelling, packaging, and advertising.

3. Competitive Advantage: Sustainable marketing can offer a competitive advantage, particularly among younger consumers who are more likely to support and purchase from brands that prioritize sustainability.

4. Long-Term Success: Sustainable marketing can help build trust, loyalty, and long-term success as consumers seek brands that align with their values and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Sustainable marketing is essential for businesses that want to stay relevant, meet consumer expectations, and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Core Sustainable Marketing Principles


Businesses must implement sustainable strategies to promote environmental sustainability and minimize negative impacts. These methods, including energy conservation and waste reduction, can attract environmentally conscious customers and increase customer acquisition, retention, and profitability. Core sustainable marketing principles include:

1. Reducing Waste: Use recyclable materials in packaging, reduce excess packaging, and use more eco-friendly materials like biodegradable or compostable materials.

2. Energy Conservation: Switch to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, conserve energy by powering off unused appliances or lights, and invest in energy-efficient lighting and technology.

3. Sustainable Sourcing: Ensure suppliers follow environmentally sustainable practices in sourcing raw materials and products.

4. Responsible Disposal: Properly dispose of hazardous waste and recycle or reuse materials when possible.

5. Education: Educate employees and customers about the importance of environmental sustainability and how they can make small changes in their daily lives to protect our planet.

6. Carbon Neutrality: Work towards achieving net-zero or offset carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits or contributing to reforestation projects.

7. Social Responsibility: Take responsibility for the impact of your business on the local community and work to support local initiatives that promote sustainability and protect the environment.

8. Transparency: Be transparent about your sustainability practices and goals. Provide reports and metrics to track progress toward achieving sustainability objectives.

Why is Sustainable Marketing More Important Than Ever


The world is grappling with social and environmental issues, including climate change, deforestation, water scarcity, and wealth inequality. Businesses must adopt sustainable marketing practices due to:

A graphic showing ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance)

1. Know your audience: Lazy marketing often occurs when businesses do not take the time to understand their audience and target them effectively. Research your audience, their needs, and their preferences so you can create content that speaks directly to them.

2. Create compelling content: Good marketing starts with great content. Create content that is informative, engaging, and valuable to your audience. This means investing in the quality of your writing, visuals, and multimedia content.

3. Be consistent: Consistency is vital when it comes to marketing. This means ensuring your brand messaging is consistent across all platforms and channels, whether social media, your website, email marketing, or advertisements.

4. Leverage different marketing channels: Don't rely solely on one marketing channel to reach your audience. Learn where your audience spends time and measure the effectiveness of multiple channels. 

5. Replace marketing tactics with strategy: To replace marketing tactics with a strategy, it is important to focus on building a strong marketing plan that aligns with the overall organizational goals. This means moving away from "shiny object marketing" that focuses on the latest trends and instead developing a comprehensive plan that is built on a deep understanding of the target audience, their needs, and behaviour.

6. Leverage technology: Use data analytics tools to track and analyze customer behaviour, preferences, and interactions with your brand. Use technology to personalize your marketing messages and content based on customer data. Use automation to nurture leads, send targeted messages, and track customer engagement.

7. Measure and adjust: Monitor your marketing efforts, measure their effectiveness and adjust your strategy accordingly. Marketing is an ever-changing landscape, so keeping up with the latest trends and adapting your approach to stay ahead of the curve is essential. But avoid shiny thing marketing. Just because it's new doesn't mean it will work. The fundamentals of good planning and targeting still apply.

7 Ways to Reduce Waste & Increase Conversions


Reducing marketing waste can have a significant impact on our environment. One way to reduce waste is to be more intentional with target audiences. By carefully targeting marketing efforts, businesses can reduce the amount of unwanted marketing materials sent out. Consider using digital marketing tactics that don't rely on printed materials, such as email marketing combined with marketing automation tools and apps that segment leads for you.

sustainable event apps and marketing automation

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By calculating RPC, companies can evaluate the efficacy of their conversion process and identify areas where they can reduce waste and improve sustainability. Companies can reduce their environmental impact and save costs by minimizing the use of physical resources in their lead-generation and sales processes.

Companies can measure their sustainability and efficiency by calculating RPC. This involves dividing the total physical resources used in marketing activities, such as brochures, flyers, promotional products, etc., by the total number of successful conversions. By doing this, the resulting number can provide insights into how much physical waste is generated per conversion. 

For example, if a company used 10,000 brochures to convert 100 customers, the Resources per Conversion would be:

Total Physical Resources Used = 10,000 brochures = 10,000 units. Number of Successful Conversions = 100Resource Used per Conversion = 10,000 / 100 = 100 units per conversion

If 10,000 glossy single-page flyers with 0 recycled content were used. It would use approximately:

• 1.3 million BTUs of energy

• 4050 litres of freshwater

• 429 Kg of CO2 emissions

• 27 Kg of solid waste produced

* Environmental impact estimates were made using the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator Version 4.0. For more information, visit:

According to our calculations, converting a single person took 13,000 BTUs of energy, 40.5 litres of water, and 4.29 kilograms of CO2 emissions. 

If you can double your conversion rate, you can cut your resource usage in half per conversion. Companies can pinpoint their least sustainable and cost-effective efforts and adjust their strategies by analyzing this metric across various marketing and sales channels or customer demographics.

Digital marketing and sustainability


Sustainable digital marketing practices

Digital marketing strategies offer an opportunity to promote a sustainable future using technology. Methods such as utilizing renewable energy in data centers, reducing energy consumption through server optimization, and adopting video conferencing instead of travelling can help reduce a company's carbon footprint. 

By adopting these practices, companies can positively influence their bottom line and society while avoiding the negative repercussions of greenwashing. Sustainable marketing should be an integral component of any marketing strategy, and businesses should adopt practices that align with their values and mission.


Q & A


Q: What is sustainable marketing?

A: Sustainable marketing is the promotion and sale of products and services that are environmentally and socially responsible and that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Q: What is the difference between sustainable and green marketing?

A: Sustainable marketing promotes products or services that contribute to a sustainable living environment, including social, economic, and environmental aspects. On the other hand, Green marketing refers to promoting products or services with minimal harmful environmental impact, specifically focusing on ecological considerations only. Sustainable marketing has broader goals, while green marketing has a narrower scope. Additionally, sustainable marketing considers a product's long-term sustainability, including ethical considerations, while green marketing focuses primarily on minimizing environmental impact. 

Q: Why is sustainable marketing so important now?

A: Environmentally and socially conscious consumers are demanding companies be more responsible in their business practices. Sustainable marketing allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and appeal to these customers. It can also help companies differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage. Additionally, sustainable marketing can have long-term benefits by building brand loyalty and increasing customer trust. Finally, with increasing scrutiny on the environmental impact of businesses, sustainable marketing can help companies demonstrate their compliance with regulations and future-proof their operations. 

Q: How does corporate social responsibility relate to sustainable marketing?

A: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable marketing are intertwined concepts that complement each other in various ways. CSR is the active effort made by companies to operate sustainably and ethically, considering their impact on society and the environment. This involves taking responsibility for their actions and considering the long-term impacts of their decisions on various stakeholders, including incorporating sustainability into their missions.

Q: Are sustainability and profitability competing goals for marketers?

A: Sustainability and profitability are not necessarily competing goals for marketers. Many companies find that sustainability can lead to increased profitability in the long run. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can reduce waste, improve efficiency, and appeal to consumers increasingly concerned about environmental issues. 

In some cases, short-term costs may be associated with implementing sustainable practices, such as investing in renewable energy or reducing packaging waste. However, long-term financial benefits, such as increased productivity, reduced resource consumption, and increased brand loyalty, can often offset these costs.

Q: Why is better marketing more sustainable?

A: Better marketing focuses on reducing waste by optimizing ROO (Return on Objective) and RPC (Resources Per Conversion) metrics in sales, recruitment, and social action marketing. Instead of only focusing on the traditional metric of return on investment (ROI), companies should also consider the return on objectives (ROO) and resources per conversion (RPC).

ROO measures the achievement of marketing objectives, such as increased brand awareness or customer engagement. On the other hand, RPC looks at the amount of resources used to achieve a conversion, whether it be a sale, recruitment, or social action. By monitoring these metrics, companies can identify areas for improvement and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. For example, if the RPC for a particular campaign is high, they may need to target a more specific audience or improve their messaging.

In this way, optimizing ROO and RPC allows companies to reduce waste, maximize their marketing efforts, and achieve their objectives more efficiently. 

Q: What are the benefits of sustainable marketing?

A: There are several benefits to sustainable marketing, including increased brand loyalty, a positive public image, and cost savings through increased efficiency.

Q. What are some common sustainable marketing practices?

Common sustainable marketing practices include:

• promoting environmentally and socially responsible products, processes, and practices.

• advocating for social and environmental causes to create social change and positive impact.

• focusing on products that are manufactured with ethical and transparent practices.

• partnering with a nonprofit or social organization and donating a portion of the profits to support a cause.

• working with suppliers, partners, and customers to create sustainable practices and products. •

promoting products and services that follow the principles of the circular economy, such as reducing, reusing, and recycling.

• providing information to customers about the impact of products throughout their life cycle.

• meeting virtually instead of travelling in person 

Q: What are some sustainable marketing strategies to begin implementing now?

A: Begin your journey with these practices:

  • Plan better: A call to action and metrics are essential for better targeting. Focus on reducing waste in your marketing processes.

  • Focus on building relationships: Sustainable marketing strategies focus on building long-term customer relationships rather than just trying to sell products or services. This means developing trust, understanding customers' needs, and delivering value over time.

  • Leverage storytelling: Storytelling is a powerful tool for sustainable marketing. It can help brands connect with consumers on an emotional level and communicate their values and vision.

  • Emphasize social responsibility: Many consumers are increasingly concerned about their impact on the planet and want to support brands that share their values. Sustainable marketing strategies can highlight a company's efforts to operate ethically and sustainably.

  • Utilize digital marketing: Digital marketing is a more sustainable way to reach customers than traditional marketing (such as print). It's cost-effective, highly targeted, and can be optimized to reduce waste and environmental impact.

  • Offer eco-friendly products: Offering environmentally friendly products helps reduce the company's carbon footprint and attract customers who want to make more sustainable purchases.

  • Engage in cause marketing: Cause marketing involves teaming up with a charity or nonprofit organization that aligns with the company's values. This demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility and can help build customer goodwill.


Q: Can you provide some examples of sustainable marketing campaigns?

A: We developed a campaign for the City of Edmonton to decrease passenger single-vehicle use. The results showed a measurable reduction in carbon emissions within a month.

Another sustainable marketing campaign focused on saving a 65,000-acre forest from clearcut logging. The campaign was successful. The forest is now protected as a Provincial Park. Read more

Q: What is ESG in relation to sustainable marketing?

A: ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance and refers to the factors that investors, consumers, and other stakeholders consider when evaluating a company's sustainability performance. Sustainable marketing can help businesses improve their ESG performance.

Q: What are some sustainable marketing practices?

A: Some sustainable marketing practices include using digital channels to reduce paper waste, partnering with local suppliers to reduce transportation emissions, and incorporating sustainable messaging and branding into marketing campaigns.

Q: What is the RPC metric?

A: The RPC (Resources Per Conversion) metric enables companies to determine the number of physical resources they use to convert a lead into a paying customer. By calculating the RPC metric, companies can evaluate the efficacy of their conversion process and identify areas where they can reduce waste and improve sustainability. By minimizing the use of physical resources in their lead-generation and sales processes, companies can reduce their environmental impact and save costs.

Q: How do principles of sustainable marketing differ from traditional marketing principles?

A: Sustainable marketing principles differ from traditional marketing principles in prioritizing environmental and social responsibility rather than solely focusing on increasing profits and market share.

Q: How Do I Start?

A: Contact us. Everything starts with a conversation.  


New Metric: Resources per Conversion


Measuring RPC (Resources Per Conversion) enables companies to determine the number of physical resources they use to convert a lead into a paying customer. For instance, if a company hands out 1000 brochures with a 2% conversion rate, 98% of the brochures end up in the waste stream, resulting in unnecessary waste of resources. By improving targeting strategies, organizations can reduce budget and environmental destruction, including cutting trees, carbon emissions from freight, and water used in the pulping process.

A photo of a clearcut forest
Localmotion- the sustainable marketing campaign we created to reduce single passenger vehicle use

Promotional Products Greenwashing May Be Damaging Your Brand

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