Every major company has set ambitious sustainability targets for the year 2020, for the new decade. But will they actually reach them, or are these goals just too abstract and overwhelming for companies to actually take action? 2020 will be the year that companies must be sustainable to attract new consumers.
In the last decade companies and government have been setting corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals for 2020. Many companies have corporate responsibility directors and even departments because they know the importance of being sustainable in order to survive. Full Motion Marketing has been helping many of these companies set up these goals, brand message, and most of all actually reaching goals to reduce their environmental footprint.
How Will Companies Reach Their Sustainability Goals in 2020?
In most companies, sustainability goals are set top-down. The management board sets targets about, for instance, energy, water and climate change. Then, business units and departments are given the task to start a variety of projects to achieve these goals within a given timeframe. The projects are often specific to a single topic, location or process.
Based on their corporate CSR goals, companies want to measure the results of these projects, so they can report on them and improve their performance. However, the goals are often not substantiated by insights on a business and product level, where this improvement could be achieved. So, reporting and improving turn out to be quite hard to do. As a result, we see business units setting up projects to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, even though they don’t really know their current impact, where their projects can cause the largest improvement, and what their contribution to the overall corporate CSR goals will be.
To reach these goals efficiently companies must set up a team whether it’s an in-house team or a third party company like Full Motion Marketing to help direct these goals and strategies.
Most Companies Are Going To Fall Short, Here’s Why
Most organizations have not purposely done enough to reduce their footprints by one-fifth. Many have grown, shrunk, pivoted, merged and sold; the baselines established pre-2010 have changed, sometimes radically, and sometimes that change is still unknown. Mechanically and technically speaking, most organizations have significant uncertainty and data gaps in their calculations that make progress toward their 2020 targets hard to even measure.
Measurement aside, how organizations are going to talk about their 2020 goals come 2020 is going make for a case study in and of itself.
- Lie and say the goal was accomplished using some creative accounting or false marketing message.
- Deflect by using something such as Science-Based Targets to redirect from 2020 goals by claiming more context, maturity, better climate perspective, etc.
- Extend the goal by pushing the target to 2040, but now at a much higher level — such as 40 percent by 2040.
- Credibly state that the goal was achieved.
Are You A Sustainability Marketer or Communicator?
Providing false messaging will backfire very quickly. Start the credibility conversation today. It will be a dark day when the goal deadline has arrived and your organization is reluctant to communicate the results due to concerns over credibility. Being able to show real proof is what people want to see and most of all it’s about protecting our planet. The implications of misleading investors, shareholders or customers with overstated sustainability performance come 2020 will be a real thing.
As a sustainability communicator, getting ahead of the credibility conversation by validating your emissions calculations and performance now is critically important. I see too many organizations that have never questioned the way their data is created, or was created way back when. I hear so much “we use XYZ software,” “we have been doing this for ten years,” “we don’t need any processes and procedures for this.” I also hear, “we had no idea we were so far off,” “why would my predecessor do it that way” and “we have been publishing this data wrong for so many years.”
My recommendation: Spend a little money and have your data reviewed. Your organization’s financials get audited for a reason; that same reason applies for these calculations.
Are You A Manager or Sustainability Leader?
Ensuring the accuracy of your organization’s total GHG emissions inventory is a large lift in and of itself, but the micro-aspect of emissions performance is equally important. If you happen to be one of the organizations that actually hit its 20 percent by 2020 target, the most important element of communicating that success is to be able to explain how those reductions actually happened.
Detailing how emissions reductions happened is part of the way to build credibility in communicating this massive accomplishment. As facility managers or topic leaders on sustainability, you are the front line for explaining which projects saved how much energy/waste/water/carbon at what ROI, over what period of time. While some will argue these details should be left in minutia, I would argue these details help write the story and build credibility. Additionally, CDP does a great job of helping organizations set context for their reductions.
Starting now, prepare a list of accomplishments, the performance of projects, ROIs, pictures, charts and beyond to share with communicators and sustainability leadership. In 450 days, this level of data is going to be important.
How Strong Is Your Sustainable Branding Message? Why Going Green is Good for Business
So, how do you take a page from IKEA’s successes in building a sustainable brand and build a sustainable brand of your own? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Understand your audience and what matters to them
What do your customers care about? Conduct market research to get a complete picture of your target audience and what matters to them. You can then use this to inform your sustainability strategy.
Assess your current practices
Think about your supply chain: Where are you sourcing your products from, and how are they transported? Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can find areas for improvement. Look at carbon-offsetting initiatives, too.
Form your mission statement
With the knowledge, you’ve gained from researching your customers, design a mission statement that will alleviate their concerns. Your sustainability strategy will then work to achieve this goal.
For example, the popular outdoor brand Patagonia’s mission statement is: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Implement your strategy
Identify ambassadors for change within your organization to lead your new sustainability strategy. Assess the financial and operational impact of making these changes and cross-reference them to the benefit they’ll bring to you and your customer. Your product, if you have one, is a good place to start. The eco-friendly changes you make will become a unique selling proposition (USP) for your brand, so make them count.
Measure, test and improve
Measurement is vital to success and should be woven into every element of planning — it’s not something you should just throw in at the end. Don’t wait until the campaign is over to evaluate its success. Test and make changes as your strategy takes shape and is implemented across the business.
Communication is key
If no one knows about the changes you have made, the perception of your brand won’t change. When speaking about these changes, think about the language you use and what will resonate with your audience.
One in five people agrees that they would actively choose brands that promote environmentally or socially conscious practices on their packaging and in their marketing, so be bold in sharing the changes you’ve made.
Sustainability may seem out of reach for your business, but you can start by making small changes to work toward a bigger overarching goal. In doing so, you can tap into a market that is willing to pay a premium for responsible products and services.
Get Your Sustainable Message in More Than 60 Cities and 40 States in 2020
The National Clean Air Green Tour pioneered the first sustainable branding tours in the United States. The Green Tour is the only green industry national tour in the United States of its kind. Green industry professionals and consumers gather every year at many of these tour stops to gain vital knowledge and skills to improve business, educate employees and discover the latest information for the upcoming season.
A Turnkey Green Marketing Solution
The 2020 National Clean Air Green Tour in association with Full Motion Marketing provides a full turn-key solution for brands such as the “Clean Air Green Tour Discovery Vehicle” below. These include in-house design, custom sustainable displays, marketing collateral, social sharing, live streaming and more. Reach millions and make an impact and a lasting impression by becoming a brand partner.
For more information on the 2020 National Clean Air Green Tour or for help creating sustainable strategies for your company or brand contact Full Motion Marketing at https://fullmotionmarketing.com or call us at 615-266-4911. We have helping companies and brands since 2007.