Sustainability is one of the currently most important topics within the B2B business. Which is why companies should develop the respective actions and report on these in line with the target group. If you’re solely thinking about environmental actions, think again. The topic has many facets.
Not just environmental protection: 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals
Active and publicised environmental protection are the central tasks and challenges that most company fact today. After all, the topic is becoming more and more important in the B2B segment – and can even be a decisive sales argument. How this can be transported in the best way is via a special form of marketing: sustainability communication.
At the same time, sustainability does not only have to involve environmentally friendly actions. This can be seen in the 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals, which the United Nations have been following since 2015 and is anchored in their Agenda 2030. These sustainable development goals (SDGs) are:
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Quality education
- Gender equality
- Clean water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
- Peace, justice and strong institutions
- Partnerships for the goals
This means companies have many additional approaches for their B2B sustainability communication which go beyond environmental protection measures. For instance, social engagement in a wider sense, such as cultural understanding, support for minorities, or the fight against poverty.
This gives organisations the chance, for instance, to position themselves in a sustainable way in terms of society and politics if their business model does not directly involve eco-friendly actions. Of course, you can try anyway within the scope of your possibilities to also make ecological contributions and thus communicate your sustainability across several areas in parallel.
Genuine, authentic, real: what’s important
When it comes to sustainability communication, generally speaking all channels are suitable. The main thing is that the target group is adequately provided with prepared content. In this case, it’s important that your own successes are communicated in a credible and transparent way. If you do not stick to the truth and end up greenwashing, you run the risk of blowing your cover at some point. The consequences of this could be fatal losses in your image and reputation. Here, too, companies must avoid making mistakes. Which is why we’ve come up with some helpful advice for good, genuine sustainability communication:
- Cleverly planned and implemented efforts for more fairness can become a unique selling point for companies. To anchor this in the hearts and minds of customers, the communication has to be sustainable itself in terms of its power to persuade and its persistence. If you do good things, this needs to be consistently communicated to the B2B target group.
- Successes should be presented to the public in a clear and, preferably, transparent way. After all, today’s digital opportunities make it easier to prove your claims to distrusting customers.
- Sustainability is a sophisticated task. When implementing it, you can make mistakes or experience failures. Your company should admit these. Handling them in an open and honest way makes you more human and can lead to more trustworthiness.
- The topic of fairness is being strongly discussed in society today and is therefore spreading into B2B marketing. For this reason, it is important within sustainability communication to give interested persons the opportunity for dialogue. This can lead to an interesting, public exchange of information and ideas, which also inspires content. Of course, justified critique is more or less possible. In such a case, you should react confidently and face it in a professional way. If you don’t, you’ll lose credibility.
- A side effect of good sustainability communication: it improves your standing as a committed employer. This has a positive impact on the interest of candidates and, in times of a shortage of specialist workers, is a factor that should not be underestimated.
Best practices: facets of sustainability
As previously mentioned: sustainability is not limited solely to concrete ecological aspects. How companies can make a good public impression beyond this topic can be seen in the following examples:
- The ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s not only uses raw materials from fairtrade, they also set great store in diversity and employ preferably disadvantaged persons.
- Beiersdorf AG (e.g. NIVEA, Hanseplast, Eucerin and 8x4) has linked together a sustainable supply chain for their goods and reports on which efforts and steps are being taken for this.
- The technology corporation Siemens focuses particularly on the well-being of its workforce. The goal of the Healthy and Safe @ Siemens initiative is to provide a healthy and safe workplace across all departments.