Eco Marketing is Like Regular Marketing, Just Nuanced

By Beth Zonis

For every organization the starting point in eco-marketing should be a value proposition that is meaningful to your customers. As Jacqueline Ottman explains in Green Marketing Myopia, it’s important not to get too carried away with the green-ness or sustainability of your offering, at the expense of explaining how well it solves your customer’s needs.

1. Know your target audience. Who are they?  How would you describe them (e.g., small or large, old or young, consumer or business, role within the household or business, industry or sector, location, interests, traits, characteristics, etc.)?

  • From a purchasing perspective, what shade of green are your customers?  Do they insist on buying ONLY environmentally correct products, for example?
  • Which segments of your market care more about sustainability or green-ness?

2. Articulate your customer’s needs or pain points. What are their concerns?  What problems do they need to solve?

  • Is sustainability high on your customer’s list of requirements?
  • What words do they use to describe their requirements and the results they’re seeking?

3. Define your product or service in terms of the benefits to the customer. How does it solve the customer’s need (e.g., for transportation: getting from point A to point B)? How much of an improvement will it be over what they’re currently using or doing?

4. Know your strengths. What are you particularly good at?  What problems does your product or service solve?  How is your product or service unique or better than what the competition offers?

  • Does your offering satisfy more customer requirements than the alternatives because it’s green or sustainable?
  • Does it cost more because it’s green or sustainable?  (Consider capital and operating costs.)

5. Revisit the green part of your message. How much do your customers care about the environment?  Where does green rank in their buying criteria?  Is there a new market that is now open to you because of your green-ness?

  • Is your product or service intrinsically green (such as renewable energy), or are your operations green (you have a comprehensive sustainability program)?
  • How much does it matter?

6. Certify your green-ness. Assuming it’s important to your customers, utilize legitimate and widely recognized certifications and ratings, and above all, client testimonials.  It’s good to describe how you’re green, but it’s even more important to QUANTIFY the benefits and results, especially for your clients.

  • The best ways to avoid greenwashing are to utilize recognized endorsements or labels as well as customer testimonials, quantified whenever possible.  Make sure to substantiate your claims!

7. Walk the talk. Make sure to use sustainable practices in your own operations and marketing events.  For example, provide recycling opportunities at customer events, and use natural lighting whenever possible.

8. Get the word out. What do you want people to do when they learn about your product or service?  Consider how your clients acquire and use information.  Make sure that you have the strategy and goals set before you select the methodology and tactics.

9. Establish an ongoing conversation with your prospects and customers.  You can set up a campaign to push the message out, but it’s also important to provide a forum for communication and feedback.

10. Continuously improve your messaging and your offerings, based on customer needs and feedback.


Beth Zonis is the founder and principal of Eco Marketing LLC – smart marketing for smart energy – to bring together her sales, marketing and business development expertise, and her passion for the environment. She has over 25 years of experience selling and marketing both engineering and high tech solutions. For more information, visit:

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