What Is ESG Marketing—and Who Needs It?

Today, a company is not just defined by what it does. People want to know what companies stand for. Often, this is relayed through a company’s mission, vision, and values. In certain sectors, like finance and investing, the company’s values can’t just be summarized in a blurb on their website. The companies need to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak: Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. That might mean investing resources, money, and strategy in their Environment, Social Responsibility, and Governance (ESG) efforts. 

Loosely, ESG might be defined as aligning investments with: values (what industries or companies one supports), impact (specific outcomes that someone wants to see in the world, and only making a profit from endorsed methods), or safety (minimizing risk in volatile markets, like those caused by steep climate, bioscience, or other macroeconomic influences).

But here’s the catch—let’s say that a company has built its ESG strategy and is starting to do some really strong work to embody its values. Now, how do you promote that to investors, stakeholders, and other supporters? 

Marketing ESG can be tricky, because it’s a little bit of a self-brag. It can look like you’re only doing the right thing in order to get the attention and praise that comes with it, rather than because your company and its leaders really care about communities, the environment, protecting the planet, and so forth. So this becomes a very delicate balancing act. 

However, once you know how to do it well, this marketing approach is transferable to several other areas. The lessons can be used whenever a company, in any sector, is looking to promote its good work—from volunteering and sponsorships to donations and awards.

Tips for ESG marketing include:

  1. Turn it into a story—and that story’s not about you. We know that storytelling is at the heart of all good marketing, and if you’re putting good into the world, there’s surely a story to tell. How are certain people, or how is a certain sector, better because of your efforts? Can it be quantified? Can it be projected? Look for ways to take your work from Point A, where it all started, past Point B, where the hard work was put in, through to Point K, where you’re demonstrating some payoff that is benefiting others—and invite your audience to stay tuned, because there’s a lot more to come. Remember: You’re telling them a story because you think they’ll want to know, not because you want to talk about yourself for any particular reason.
  1. Note why these efforts have been satisfying clients/customers. Gather testimonials or promote successes based on supporting your values-based work. For example, “John chose our company in light of our environmental impact, which was XYZ in 2022. We’re projected to double it in 2023. Here’s how he feels about working with a company that is making this kind of difference in the world…”

3) Offer transparency. Even before Patagonia announced that the entire company would be donated in an effort to stem climate change, it made headlines for its radical transparency, publishing all of its successes and failures, inner workings, and financials. By offering something like a live tracker for impact, full disclosure on data, or reporting on ESG portfolio performance, it can gain a lot of trust and confidence from potential supporters. When you want to report something good about your work, it’s not a brag: It’s a statement of fact.

Are you looking to develop collateral around value-centric efforts, add a section to your website, or promote your impact to specific audiences? The team at Mad 4 Marketing will help you share your story while ensuring that your good intentions are clearly and thoughtfully conveyed.

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