Why I Market for Sustainability-focused Organizations

Erica Larson studying soil horizons.

Interests and education.

Sustainability has been important to me ever since I was a little kid. When school projects would come up, if given the choice, I would always choose topics like “water pollution” or “manatee protection policies” because I loved to learn about those things and I was happy to have the opportunity to teach a little something to my classmates – maybe they’d even be interested in what I had to say.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that what I was doing was a type of education-based marketing. Even in graduate school, when I decided to focus my studies on environmental education, I didn’t recognize that I was being set-up with a solid foundation for marketing sustainability-related initiatives, events, and practices.

Antioch University New England, Environmental Education Class of 2009

Unlike many of my classmates, I wanted to work with adults and was especially interested in the higher education and business sectors. I became fascinated with sustainable business practices and started to see a real direction for where I wanted to take my career. I pictured myself at a large university or organization where I could implement sustainability projects and educate about them. To make a long story short, that isn’t where I ended up. But, in a roundabout way, I’ve built a career that’s put me exactly where I should be.

What do I do?

I own a marketing agency called Pixel Power. We develop brand awareness through website design, graphic design, and content marketing including social media management and videography.

What does that mean?

We make things people can read and look at that help them understand what you do. This includes:

  • Building and maintaining websites
  • Creating pictures and writing text for social media posts
  • Producing videos
  • Writing articles
  • Designing flyers, brochures, and business cards

The sustainability niche.

As a small business owner, I work with lots of client types. But, as you can imagine from my story so far, I get an extra boost of enthusiasm when I am able to help organizations who are taking strides to sustain our earth. Sometimes sustainability is part of their regular business practices and sometimes it’s part of their volunteerism or philanthropic efforts.

Either way, part of what makes us a good match are these shared interests and values.

A lot of business owners are scared to niche – I was one of them. We all know that when you’re talking to everyone you’re talking to no one… but still… there are always friends and family members shouting at you to “cast a wide net” and market to “anyone who needs a website” which in practice is ridiculous, exhausting, and ineffective.

So here is my niche. I help sustainability-focused organizations with their communications goals by creating content.

I help sustainability-focused organizations with their communications goals by creating content.

How did I begin to market for sustainability?

After stints like working in a national park and teaching college-level environmental science, I took a role working in web design and marketing at an engineering and construction firm. What brought me to the position in the first place was that they implemented energy efficiency, water conservation, and other initiatives for customers concerned about sustainability. From private business to municipalities to K-12 and higher education, all of these organizations were well-aware of the importance of implementing sustainable practices for not only people and the environment but for their bottom-line. And I got to be a part of marketing all of these glorious projects!

In all honesty, many (if not most) were driven by the potential to save money. What’s great about sustainability is that it’s not just about environment. People, Planet, Profit, as they say, are the three tiers of sustainability. So even when driven by money, sustainable business practices help people and planet too.

Sustainability is People, Planet, Profit

While managing multiple social media pages, blogging, coordinating videos, and building websites I was clued in on some key things:

  • Organizations that run on tax dollars need the public to know that their money is being used efficiently
  • Sustainability and resiliency look great no matter what type of entity you are and are positive for public relations no matter where you fall on the political spectrum
  • People want the public to know that they are doing good things but they need someone else to help them market what they are doing

Lots of organizations implement projects that can be considered sustainable but they fall short in letting people know about it. They spend lots of time and resources on lighting retrofits, solar arrays, water conserving or even grey water systems, LEED certifications, etc. and when the project is over it falls silently into the background. Some even have dedicated “green” departments or committees that are doing wonderful things for the earth, human health, local communities, and the world on a regular basis… but no one knows about it. Talk about a missed opportunity!

These are exactly the kinds of people that I can help.

Why aren’t people marketing their sustainability projects?

Most organizations just aren’t set up to market those efforts. They don’t have the staff to do it, they assume their staff has done it (but they haven’t), and sometimes they simply don’t know how to talk about what they are doing or don’t have the time to accomplish it. And oftentimes, they don’t think about their efforts as being marketing-worthy. They are just doing sustainability projects out of care and responsibility, not to be newsworthy, which in my opinion makes those efforts even more important to promote.

Market your sustainability efforts.

Individual and organizational efforts to improve the world around us should always be included in your content strategy. It is essential for building a brand personality and showing the human-side of an organization. There is no better way to advertise than to let the community know who you are, who your employees are, and the good works you do in the world… and it’s great for employee morale and recruiting too!

I may have just decided our company should niche in the last year, but I’ve been doing this for over a decade. If you need someone to be able to speak about your sustainability projects, organization, or good community works, I am your girl. Contact me at erica@pixelpowercle.com or 440-258-5494.