Going green is no longer just a trend - it's a competitive necessity. Yet even the most well-intentioned brands struggle to authentically market themselves as eco-friendly. They're not sure how to talk about their efforts without coming across as preachy or alienating potential customers.

The key is striking the right tone - one that feels genuine rather than performative. As more brands work to reduce their environmental impact, consciousness, and sustainability are becoming mainstream. Savvy marketers recognize this and are adapting their strategies accordingly. Here's my advice on how to do it right.

What Is Green Marketing? Definition and Examples

Common Greenwashing Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake Why it Backfires Better Approach
Leading with certifications/credentials Comes off as bragging Emphasize end-customer value
Perfectionist messaging Inauthentic Transparency about improvements
Preachy tone Alienating Inviting shared values
Data overload Boring! Emotional stories
Only selling Transactional Facilitating community

Meet Customers Where They Are

Audit your brand messaging - does it emphasize quality and benefits rather than just sustainability? If not, create an updated copy.
Film several short social videos spotlighting real customers sharing why they love your products.
Interview long-time brand fans from diverse backgrounds and share their stories across blogs and social media.
TweetChat: Meeting customers where they are - Right On Interactive

You can't strong-arm people into caring about the environment. Instead, eco-friendly marketing should feel inclusive rather than exclusionary. Help customers understand how your brand aligns with values they already have.

  • Emphasize quality and value rather than just sustainability. Talk more about product benefits and less about your certification or recycling process.
  • Share the stories of real people who love your products because they perform impressively and last a long time.
  • Spotlight influencers from diverse backgrounds who authentically use and enjoy your brand.

The goal is inviting everyone on the sustainability journey - not just those who already identify as eco-warriors. Avoid an “us vs. them” mentality.

Lead with Emotion

Schedule a brainstorm meeting with your team to map out the key brand purpose and origin stories you want to share.
Develop a 12-month storytelling content calendar to guide emotional story output across blogs, social media, podcasts etc.
Produce a short film documentary capturing staff sustainability perspectives and brand history for your about page/YouTube.
When Emotions Give A Lift To Advertising

Facts and statistics only go so far. While third-party certifications like B-Corp and Climate Neutral lend credibility, you still need to connect with customers emotionally.

Share the passion and purpose behind your brand through storytelling. Help people get to know the real people behind your company and why they care so deeply about environmental health.

Some specific strategies include:

  • Short social videos spotlighting farmers, designers, and other supply chain partners
  • Blog interviews with longtime employees about what sustainability means to them
  • Photo essays showing the care that goes into each stage of production
  • Podcast episodes exploring different green living lifestyle tips

The more your audience understands what drives your brand, the more likely they'll be to connect and share your values.

Sustainability Marketing Investment Priorities

Content Type % Allocating Budget Goal Top Formats
Brand storytelling 63% Build emotional connections Videos, blogs
Lifestyle community content 57% Facilitate collective action User forums, events
Behind-the-scenes transparency 51% Foster trust Facility virtual tours
Employee spotlights 47% Personalize the brand Interviews, podcasts
Customer highlight reels 43% Social proof Video testimonials
Eco-influencer collaborations 41% Expand reach YouTube videos, IG takeovers

Make Imperfections Your Superpower

Have an open discussion internally about vulnerabilities and areas for improvement in your sustainability journey.
Commit to sharing 1 blog post or social media story each month showcasing an imperfection, mistake or work-in-progress.
Solicit customer feedback through surveys and reviews about still-developing areas and transparently share suggestions.
Ugly Vegetables Side View Closeup Concept Food Organic Waste Reduction  Using In Cooking Imperfect Products Stock Photo - Download Image Now -  iStock

Customers have come to expect over-filtered perfection from brands on social media. But that polished veneer can feel inauthentic. Don't be afraid to break this mold and get real about the challenges, mistakes and continuing education behind running a values-aligned business.

Being upfront about the complexity of implementing eco-best practices shows humility and helps customers trust that you're not just giving sustainability lip service.

Some honest storytelling ideas include:

  • The saga behind faulty first attempts at a new compostable packaging
  • Ongoing employee training programs teaching sustainability practices
  • Areas that are still works-in-progress on your sustainability journey

This framing invites others on a collaborative journey rather than preaching from an ivory tower.

Empower Lifestyle Content & Community

Run a user-generated content campaign with branded hashtags around customers living sustainably.
Develop an environmental activism handbook pdf to share tips for local making an impact.
Recruit a roster of micro-influencers aligned with your values to collaborate on co-created green living content.
Top 10 volunteer opportunities in Santa Cruz County | June 2023 - Lookout  Santa Cruz

Sustainability isn't just about buying green products - it's increasingly a lifestyle and social identity. That means you need to go beyond just selling, to empowering collective action.

Create avenues for customers to connect through their shared values for preserving the planet. Some ideas include:

  • User-generated content campaigns capturing customers living sustainably
  • Soliciting eco-tips and constructive advice from your community
  • Facilitating meet-ups and volunteer events
  • Sharing actionable guides on environmental activism
  • Collaborating with green influencers on creative projects

This community-driven content keeps your brand front-of-mind while associating it with customers' deeper identity around sustainability. It also exponentially increases your reach as fans share and engage with socially validated ideas.

The key is giving supporters the tools they need to spread awareness - then getting out of the way. Because empowered customers become your best marketers.

Sample 12-Month Storytelling Content Calendar

Month Storytelling Focus Assets to Create
January Origins: Founder personal sustainability journey Short brand origin video
February Behind the Scenes: Designer/artist spotlight Blog interview, Photos
March Eco-Imperfections: Product development learnings Vlog post
April Lifestyle: Spotlight on micro-influencers Co-created video project
May Staff Perspectives: Long-time employee interviews Blog posts, Podcast episode
June Customer Highlights Reel: Fan testimonials Video compilation
July Environmental Activism 101 Guide Free downloadable ebook
August Meet our Farmers: Supplier spotlight Photo essay, site bios
September Panel Event: Community discussion recording Expert roundtable video
October Facility Virtual Tour: Production process Interactive presentation
November UGC Campaign: Encourage sustainability posts Curate & re-share
December Recap & Gratitude: Look back at 2022 Year-end roundup blog

Eco-consciousness used to be confined to a crunchy niche. But it's hit mainstream critical mass. Smart brands recognize sustainability as an opportunity to lead by example while meeting customer demand.

Yet conscious marketing requires nuance. You need to delicately balance facts with feeling, perfection with imperfection, and selling with empowering. By taking an inclusive approach focused on shared values over exclusivity, every brand has permission to authentically join this movement.

Those that leverage eco-friendly practices as a chance to build community and lifestyle beyond products will transform customers into fans. And what's better for the planet than conscious consumers spreading the sustainability message for you?