As a precursor to this article, I would like to describe what sustainable marketing is not.
Sustainable marketing is not viral marketing.
‘Going viral’ is the elusive unicorn accolade that all brands think they want. Where you post one picture of your product and within 12 hours you’ve received 1.2million likes and you’ve been invited onto the Jonathan Ross show. Viral marketing is the overnight sensation that dominates the Daily Mail and means you get a text from your Great Uncle Rod saying ‘I saw you on the telly!” Old friends from school might message you on Facebook and you’ll see your Instagram DM’s go sky high. You might even be asked to speak on a podcast.
But no, sustainable marekting is not that.
Because what goes up must come down.
The word virus itself means something that is caught, something that plagues us, something perhaps to be avoided, and usually not long after its conception (modern medicine being well) - a virus is something that we build up a tolerance against.
A virus has never been desirable. It is out of control, short-lived, itchy.
Sustainable marketing on the other hand is the filling, long-tasting, energising porridge to the tasty, short-lived MSG sensation* of ‘going viral’.
We like to think we are the antibodies.
And our fight for sustainable marketing is because it is a method that is better for brand and better for consumer.
When we talk about sustainability in an environmental sense, we talk of ‘waste’ in the same sentence. This element of waste is what we are witnessing in a marketing and content capacity too.
‘Throwaway content’ is a digital byproduct that is as bad for our society’s mental health as much as throwaway plastics are bad for the planet. The SEO scramble and high frequency of posting that Instagram demands for us to stay relevant and visible (approx three times a day) has seen us mass generate content on enormous scale - at a rate that is not keeping up with editorial merit.
In short, marketers aren’t producing content people actually want to read.
People are not posting because they have something to say, but because they want to be heard.
Unsurprisingly this method of content creation is not sustainable, nor is it interesting. It is ego-led and insular, a trap we have been coerced into by the digital platforms: Google and Facebook who rely on us to keep creating content.
But it is not sensible for brands to mass produce content because most brands cannot maintain high standards at such capacity, therefore it inevitably leads to customer turn-off.
So in the same vein as the ‘buy less, buy better’ movement that has been sweeping the fashion and manufacturing industries, we as marketers should be consciously creating better content. Something that won’t burn out and something that those with the purse strings can run for 12 months, not 1 month.
Buy well-made content, buy ethical narratives.
Targeted, considered, interesting, relevant. Instead of one knock-out event that costs its clients the same as its Marketing Director’s annual salary and has been forgotten long before the ink on the ‘New app makes splash at swimming pool themed cocktail party’ Evening Standard article has been printed.
Connecting with an audience that is eternally distracted just does not work in one all-singing, all-dancing attempt. You could take Victoria Beckham to Wetherspoons and they’ll forget you. It must be slow and steady - a constant and familiar new part of their lives. Adding value and becoming over time a friendly face. One that they want to hear from and buy from.
In a world where everyone else is burning their bridges and their budgets, sustainable marketing is the vehicle into your customer’s hearts and minds. And it won't run out of petrol either.
Want to read some good content? Here’s our mag, Yolklore.
*Kudos to Dolly Alderton for this metaphor