Archive for May, 2009

I have discussed before that the essence of sustainable marketing is adding to the four P’s, the three E’s: Ecology: ensuring that the marketing is ecologically and environmentally sustainable. Economy: the project must not be damaging economically to the communities it impacts upon. Ethnology: having regard and support for the cultures of all those involved in the marketing activity from producer to customer.

I realised, however that I have missed another big ‘E’… Ethics. It could be argued that this is the envelope (another ‘e’?) that contains all the others.  But I would suggest that for a company’s marketing to be ethical sustainable goes beyond the other dimensions and reflects upon the organisations attitude to it’s corporate responsibilities and ultimately its brand values.


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For a long time business has been seen as the villan in the modern world… and recent activities in the financial sector have done little to help. But amid the cynicism and lack of political leadership we see, there are organisations taking their corporate responsibility seriously and have the opportunity make a real difference.

But the opportunity must not be squandered; it requires real vision and leadership. The public are rightly suspicious and cynical, but most businesses actually impact communities lives in real ways.. the ‘Four P’s’ are all about engagement… living in the real world. I have long held the view that marketing is at the heart of business (but then I would say that). But if that is so, sustainable marketing at the heart of business is a tremendously powerful tool.

Take note though of what Business in the Community’s chairman, Stephen Howard said:

 “How businesses live and communicate their values and vision cannot be done by publishing statements or group rehearsal of values – it requires action and engagement.  ‘Do as I do’ – not as I say.  The imperative for business leaders must be to  instil and be the custodian of values, create a culture of responsible behaviours to support these values and ensure performance incentives throughout the business reward long term performance, not just quarterly results.”

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Googling ‘sustainable marketing’ a few years ago only brought up a handful of entries… now there are 144,000,00. Okay, I haven’t delved beyond the first couple of pages, but the heartening thing is that this is now a mainstream activity and taken seriously.

One site that demonstrates this in spades is the CSR Europe site, and I can thoroughly recommean their excellent guide: CSR Europe’s Guide to Sustainable Marketing. The great thing about this document is that it is practical, not just a theoretical discussion piece. It helps make the real business case and anybody working with clients new to the concept of sustainable marketing will find it a vital tool.

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Bear with me folks, this blog is just beginning… we all know about the four ‘P’s (although last list I saw was up to nine!), but for me what sustainable marketing is about is adding the three ‘E’s… Economics, Ecology and Ethnology. Keep it simple and focus on those dimensions and you are well on the way to a sustainable marketing strategy.

My interest (which turned into a passion) was kick-started a few years ago when involved with a major event for a UK Government department, and part of the brief was it must be a sustainable event. I began a search for consultants to help me… they were thin on the ground. Eventually I did find some help from the most unlikely location, the USA.  But working on that project I realised the same principles could be applied to any marketing strategy or project… and now it has become a passion. You can be a good marketer, help generate substantial profits, create real brand differentiation… and be responsible for the sustainable protection and development of resources.

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This blog is about effective marketing within a sustainable framework. It’s about doing business in a ethical manner with a regard for the wider world, its people and its resources.

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