3 steps to mastering ESG marketing

Last updated: 29th April 2024

Amid escalating consumer, stakeholder and regulatory pressures, ESG communications are becoming a higher priority for marketers than ever before. They simply cannot be ignored – but this shouldn’t mean ESG comms come across as forced either.

How to create high-impact, strategic communication strategies that incorporate your ESG ambitions is the topic of our latest guide.

But before diving into the ‘how’, it’s worth beginning with the ‘what’. The term ESG – environmental, social and governance – itself conjures up a range of different interpretations. As a B2B marketing agency, we’re going to focus on consumers and stakeholders, who primarily associate it with a business’s commitment to sustainability and purpose. 

This blog will look at how you can build a winning ESG communications strategy, the benefits of doing so – and we’ll even discuss some of the things not to do.

3 essential steps to elevate ESG marketing

Transparent tracking and communication

It may sound obvious, but transparency is vitally important when it comes to mastering your ESG marketing. From rigorously reporting on and monitoring your ESG ambitions, to meticulously communicating these accomplishments, it pays to prioritise transparency. All stakeholders – from customers deciding whether they want to do business with you, to investors assessing future growth – value openness.

Therefore, you should set clear, measurable and realistic ESG objectives, consider third-party evidence to support the progress being made, and disclose accurate data about your ESG credentials. You can then be sure that your ESG communications are truthful, unambiguous and meaningful – and therefore aligned with the Green Claims Code.

For ESG marketing to be credible to consumers and investors, transparency is paramount. Communication alone will not carry weight – any claims need to be substantiated.

ESG integration

Next, embrace integrating ESG into your corporate strategy. To nurture new growth and business opportunities, ESG should be at the heart of your operations – not an afterthought or something that’s done as a box-ticking exercise.

When we work with brands at The Marketing Pod, we often start with the question: ‘why’? Of course, every company wants to make a profit – but it’s your business’s reason for being that really speaks to audiences. And they want to know how your business aligns with their values and benefits people and the planet.

From the board and c-suite level, to business leaders and operations, everyone must know your reason for being, and these ESG values need to be embedded as part of your company’s DNA. Then, when it comes to communicating your ESG efforts, this activity will be so much more impactful, because your business will be truly living these values.

Just get started

For some companies, just getting their ESG journey underway can feel overwhelming. But no one is expecting your ESG credentials to be instantly impressive. In fact, no one will ever expect them to be perfect. It’s progress that matters.

However good your ESG strategy is, there will always be bigger and better strides to be made. Don’t feel demoralised if your ESG standing isn’t currently where you’d hoped it might be. If audiences can see you’re serious about championing ESG best practice, then this will stand you in good stead for the future.

What’s more, being honest about the challenges you have faced and why objectives were missed can empower others on their own ESG journeys, and is a great way to build trust. In fact, ESG is a journey we’re all on together, and ESG marketing needs to reflect that, offering your business a chance to demonstrate real authenticity. Remember, progress always trumps perfection.

Beware of these ESG blunders

Our fourth, bonus tip to winning at ESG marketing is to keep clear of the following mistakes. When it comes to ESG communications, the line between success and failure can potentially feel precariously thin. And an increasingly savvy – and critical – public can spot an inauthentic, disingenuous ESG strategy a mile off. 

So be aware of the dreaded ‘green sheen’ –  ‘greenwashing’, ‘greenhushing’ and ‘greenwishing’.

  • Greenwashing

Greenwashing is making false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of your products or services, or the sustainability credentials of your business.

  • Greenhushing

Greenhushing refers to the practice of under-reporting or choosing not to disclose how you’re progressing against your net zero targets.

  • Greenwishing

Greenwishing suggests that, for all a company’s good intentions, many ESG strategies lack meaningful impact. They either fail to achieve the intended results or overestimate the impact made. This is becoming an increasing business concern, as greenwishing can lead directly to greenwashing if not tackled effectively.

It’s always worth asking whether your green claims stack up.

The benefits of a strong corporate ESG strategy

There are many advantages to getting your ESG communications strategy right. First and foremost, consumers and employees think businesses have a pivotal role to play in addressing these concerns. One report found that 83% of consumers think companies should be actively shaping ESG best practices, and 76% said they would discontinue doing business with a company that treated employees, communities and the environment poorly.

Audiences want businesses to deliver beneficial products and services, while aligning with their values. They want to work for companies whose vision and values match their own. And, with many investors citing sustainable businesses as being worth more, tackling environmental and social issues is a win-win for everyone involved.

The best-performing businesses don’t undertake ESG initiatives on the side. Instead, ESG is integrated into their overarching corporate strategy, alongside growth and profitability.

When done well, ESG communications raise your profile, reputation and, inadvertently, profits. But these depend on setting clear ESG targets, successfully monitoring how you’re tracking against these metrics, and ensuring achievements are reflected in comms in a fair, honest and proportionate way.

With all this in mind, it’s clear how you market your ESG ambitions and achievements is a worthwhile, long-term investment.

If you’re ready to start your journey, or just need to remind yourself of best practice, don’t miss the Pod’s ‘Definitive guide to successful strategic communications’.

Download your complimentary copy now.

N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by the above supplier, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher

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