Writing about Marketing Sustainability Is Harder Than It Should Be

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marketing sustainability

I’ve worked hard to position myself as an expert.

I co-run a marketing agency and I strive constantly to stay up on the latest developments in that space. And, let me tell you, that space changes at a dizzying speed.

Prior to running a marketing agency, I started, ran and sold a company that retrofits existing buildings for energy efficiency, utilizing techniques and materials not available when the buildings were originally built.

While I could have started a business building new, green structures, I wanted my company, Conservation Pros, to have maximum impact on the sustainability of the built environment.

Over the course of six years, I positioned myself as an expert in that field, too.

As It Turns Out, I’m Not an Expert

My marketing agency, Opus Marketplace, worked with Michael Shore to help design and build the website and online strategy for The Heart of Waraba.

As we got deeper into the project, I recognized an opportunity to share what I know with the Waraba community and offered to become a regular contributor.

So here I am.

With my two “expert” positions, writing about marketing sustainability should be a breeze, right?

No so fast…

For one thing, writing for a global audience (posts at Heart of Waraba are translated into 15 languages) is a tremendous challenge. While I may think a particular turn of phrase is a clever way to express an idea, it turns out I haven’t got a clue if it will make any sense once translated into, say, Swahili.

For another, you all are a very diverse audience. It’s easy to sound like I know what I’m doing when I talk to attorneys in the US about how to market their legal practices, their needs are mostly similar.

But some of you are marketing your products or services to consumers while others are working with corporate clients or even governments.

So when I talk about the changing tastes of consumers or culture shifts in company transparency, it might prove meaningless to you, if not utter nonsense.

Lastly, the very meaning of what constitutes a “sustainable business” has changed in the minds of consumers, at least in Western cultures.

Back when I ran Conservation Pros, it was enough to lead with the fact that we were a “green” company and to use our approach to energy efficiency as our brand story.

But that was 2007.

Now that green initiatives have gone fully mainstream, it’s simply not enough just to say you’re “green” or “sustainable”.

Honestly, I think the best approach is to lead with a brand culture of ethics, integrity and transparency and let the sustainable aspects of your business live under that umbrella. I’ll address that very thing in subsequent posts.

marketing sustainability

Some Things Never Change

All that said, there are still a few things that remain the same, regardless of whether you’re marketing sustainability or selling shoes. Examples might include communicating your company culture, crafting your brand’s story, knowing who your demographic is and speaking to them with a message that resonates. All these things (and hundreds more) are vital to the success and positioning of your business, sustainable or otherwise.

So it is that I’ll be covering these topics, in these pages, with the plain and open confession that I am not an expert.

I’ll be content to position myself as a “guy who knows some stuff”.

That’ll do.

In the process, I invite you to tell me I’m wrong, ask questions and generally participate. After all, that’s what The Heart of Waraba was built for.


Author: Carl

Carl Donovan is a co-founder and Creative Director of Opus Marketplace, a digital marketing agency in Asheville, NC, USA.

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