Edinburgh: 0131 356 0911 - London: 020 8064 0917 contact@eleglobal.me

In this webinar speakers Dr Geraint Evans, Michelle Carvill & Gemma Butler discussed sustainable marketing and how to drive profits with purpose.


View this three minute taster to see what  Sustainable Marketing – How to drive profits with purpose was all about and how marketers can take the lead in raising awareness of how to build sustainability into your business.


It seems like everyone is starting to talk about sustainability, responsibility and purpose and even the legal and professional services sectors are waking up to the effect they can have on driving a change towards sustainability.

The PM Forum – always at the cutting edge of marketing topics relevant to the professional services – recently hosted a webinar with the authors of the excellent new book Sustainable Marketing – How to drive profits with purpose.

Although not specifically tailored to the professional services it does address the undeniable fact that:

  1. There has been a massive increase in the number of pitches and RFPs requesting information on CSR and responsibility that goes further than just charitable giving and employee relations.
  2. 99% of CEOs believe sustainability issues are important for success and are now more than just a ‘nice to have’ but are a core business objective to build into organisational strategy.
  3. 80% of consumers say they are looking for sustainable products and are prepared to pay up to 35% more for products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly.
  4. There has been a 96% increase in sustainable investing since 2019. 
  5. Lawyers and the professional services are well-placed to effect systemic change across the business community by considering how they advise clients, in relation to this.
  6. And, finally. The “educated and aware” marketer is best placed, within professional services organisations, to effect a change towards this way of thinking. 

Here at ELE Global we have long advocated The Purpose Pathway as a way for professional services to move towards a more responsible, sustainable and ethical way of working and advising. 

Indeed, in this webinar Dr Geraint Evans discussed how the professional services should be making more effort to lead a change through their clients and their senior management. It starts first, he said, with education and then through implementing it yourself. In leading by example you can then help clients to understand that it isn’t just about seeing sustainability as a cost issue but about viewing it as a growth opportunity. Importantly, he suggested the ways in which professional services firms can also source insight (and share it) from across their client base to better support their clients.

In short, we couldn’t agree more about following a pathway that makes material changes internally, first, and then turns the spotlight outwards.

The webinar (available to view in full for PM Forum members) tackled the important role marketing professionals can and should have in this process. 

“Marketing needs to drive the change towards sustainability”, they said over and over again.

The discussions tackled the thorny subject of ‘trust’ and how this is at an all time low, in terms of sustainability and businesses. The speakers drew on the fascinating Edelman Trust Barometer study, that looks at consumer responses and levels of trust. And they set a challenge for professional services organisations by highlighting that 86% of Edelman Survey believe CEOs should lead in creating systemic change for sustainability. 

The fact is, not only are consumers demanding sustainability and a more ethical way of working, so too are employees (when considering employment) and also investors. Blackrock’s Larry Fink’s letter to CEOs hit the news for its clear message that investment would require a clear and reportable commitment to sustainability.

The session guided attendees to consider the subject from across the marketing disciplines, looking at strategy, brand and communication in detail.

We were encouraged to ask the following questions at the outset:

  • Do you know your / your clients’ current position regarding their social and environmental impact, their strategy, and their purpose? 
  • What data and evidence are critical to understanding your organisation’s total social, environmental, and financial impact? 
  • What are your competitors doing in your sectors, and how can you work together to speed up progress and deliver more impactful change? 
  • Where can you partner to make bigger impacts and progress? 
  • How much insight are your current reporting outputs generating about your efforts to deliver on purpose? 
  • When was the last time you took action in response to a metric about your purpose? 
  • What is not currently being measured or reported that society will hold you accountable for in the future?

And the panel tackled the thorny issue of CSR – which many firms still consider to be the box ticked in terms of sustainability and responsibility. With this renewed approach, however, we were encouraged to revisit these CSR programmes with stronger intentions and a business case, reengineering them to support a more sustainable, positive organisational growth. 

There is no denying that we have a slow, uphill battle within professional services to change hearts and minds towards viewing sustainability, responsibility and purpose as more than just a fluffy part of the marketing department. Yet, there is undeniable evidence that organisations that focus on sustainability are performing higher than those that don’t, as well as securing more investment.

 

So, what should we do?

First, suggested the panel, managing partners and marketing professionals alike should be asking themselves ‘What would the world lose if your firm disappeared? Would the world be in a better place if you did?’

Second, we need to recognise that it is in our gift as marketeers to make a difference in this way. What’s particularly interesting is that many firms are actually making a fundamental change difference and yet not talking about it. Marketing isn’t being used to spread this message and it isn’t being used to encourage people to follow their example. 

Third, we need to consider how we market as well as the fact that we need to. How should professional services report on performance and set objectives? Should we be all rushing out to become B Corps, or to sign up to the ESGs or GRI? Or should professional services develop its own, standard reporting structure that is directly relevant?

Fourth, maybe we should start sharing best practice a bit more? There is actually a lot going on in the professional services but nobody gets to hear about it. If we were to share this information more readily – these examples of best practice as well as challenges met and resolved – perhaps more would feel able to change their own, internal ways of working.

And fifth… maybe we should all kick things off by listening to www.canmarketingsavetheplanet.com – the supporting podcast to this truly vital new book.