Marketing sucks ! Why many sustainable companies have a marketing problem

Many sustainable businesses love your product and hate selling - you have a marketing problem. You are so intensely involved with your product that you don't realise the importance of sales and marketing.

Why do marketing and sales often have such negative connotations?

Many sustainable and green companies have a marketing problem. They stand with their company for sustainable and durable products. At the same time, they cannot exist without selling their products. They are afraid of marketing and sales.

We often associate marketing and sales with negative experiences.

Whether it's the urging of a consultant to buy a certain product, the ringing of hoover salesmen or the tenth advertisement during our favourite programme. Sales and marketing are annoying.

Man annoyed on the sofa, advertising is annoying, marketing problem

But why do sales and marketing have such negative connotations?

Are you also afraid of advertising your products too obtrusively?

Man with megaphone, puffery, marketing problem

Perhaps the term "fear" is a bit exaggerated.... But don't you also feel a kind of uneasiness about sales and marketing from time to time?

This malaise is often justified. We live in the age of abundance and have realised that more consumption does not necessarily lead to more health and happiness. Consumption has downsides and its limits have long been reached. Especially sustainable and green companies therefore often have a marketing problem and find themselves in a quandary.

Shop with lots of clothes and discounts, consumer overkill, marketing problem

Let's analyse this uneasiness and sinking feeling that sets in when you have to sell your product or service a little more closely.

People want to be loved, appreciated and recognised. But we don't want to force our product on anyone. We don't like to be harassed by others. For this very reason, we also don't want to pester other people. But is selling and marketing really only possible through "harassment"?

The death of the seller

Although the ability to sell a product is becoming increasingly important in many professions, the classic salesperson is almost extinct today.

In his play "Death of a Salesman", Henry Miller describes the dilemma as early as 1949. In a world of oversupply, salespeople and intermediaries are becoming more and more superfluous. They make transactions expensive and slow. Their payment is often reflected in the product price.

Consumers are increasingly relying on their own research. In doing so, they receive buying recommendations from the ubiquitous social networks.

People on mobile phones, next to each other, using social networks, purchase recommendations

Just as ATMs and telephone systems have displaced the job of the classic counter clerk, the new world makes salespeople seem old-fashioned.

What do we need salespeople and marketing for in a world where all information is instantly available?

The marketing problem - sustainable companies in a quandary

Your company stands for fairly produced, high-quality and durable products. Nevertheless, these products also have to be sold somehow to secure the future of your company.

In a world of abundance, how are we to promote our products in good conscience?

Some companies answer this question by concentrating on working on their product. They limit marketing to the bare minimum. They ignore their marketing problem and secretly expect potential customers to see the benefits of your product and then become buyers quite automatically ( without marketing and sales efforts).

Unfortunately, this strategy often fails due to a simple fact: new products are unknown at the beginning. Availability in the retail trade is low. The only option is direct distribution via the internet. Here, we compete with millions of other brands for the limited attention of consumers. So the marketing problem cannot be ignored.

Selling without selling - marketing in our everyday life

There are fewer hoovers and insurance policies being sold today, but we are increasingly busy and confronted with selling without selling. We want to convince our colleagues of our ideas or get our children to bed early enough. To do this, we use some tricks and marketing ideas. We are all busy day after day with activities in which we have to convince others.

If we look at this aspect a little more closely, aren't we all sellers?

In the modern world of work, the boundaries have shifted. We often no longer work in just one defined activity, but in an interdisciplinary way. In doing so, we have to convince others of our ideas.

We sell our ideas and want to get people around us to recognise them.

Woman tries to convince colleagues of her idea

Many of the activities in our time have something to do with sales and marketing in the broadest sense.

In doing so, our goal is clear. We want to get others to give us what we want from them. Whether this is something tangible such as money or something intangible such as attention.

So is there a marketing problem at all?

Studies have investigated how much of our work time we spend selling without selling. The numbers are surprising:

  1. 40% of our work is spent selling without selling. This includes presenting ideas or influencing and persuading others.
  2. Most people judge this aspect of their work as crucial to their professional success.

(Qualtrics study: "What we do at work")

How could this happen? We all hate selling and yet we do nothing else for 40% of our time.

Some of the reasons are:

The growth of small business: The same technologies that have made traditional sellers extinct are now helping small business owners become sellers and marketers. Etsy, for example, started as a marketplace for hobbyists and now provides a platform for almost 1 million active online shops. These turn over more than €400 million in merchandise value per year. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms help thousands of founders to finance their project or future business.

Multiplicity of skills (elasticity): Modern companies have less and less classical sales staff. Today, almost all employees are involved in sales. For example, support staff assist customers with product selection. Engineers, designers and product managers need to understand how products are used. In many modern companies, products are linked to services and developed individually with customers. Learning organisations interact to solve problems together with suppliers.

Growth in the apprenticeships: Teaching means moving people. In the past, it was desired that as little questioning as possible be done. Products had to be sold according to strict specifications. Today, people are to be encouraged to think along. In the form of new sales methods, customers are involved in the sales process.

If we teach others to put the customer at the centre of the sale, a new form of selling can emerge.
Sales talk between two men

Selling without annoying - How to solve your marketing problem

As a green company, we have to rely, willy-nilly, on promoting our product.

We would like to give you some tips on how to solve your marketing problem:

  1. Be a teacher. Instead of stubbornly marketing your product, think about how your product can help customers. Find questions or problems that your customers are concerned about. Explain how your product addresses that question or problem. How can you or your product or service help your customer achieve their goals?
  2. Give instead of take. How can you give something valuable to potential customers? Since we are also frequent customers ourselves, we know that no one wants to be sold something by someone who is a stranger. Instead, we prefer to buy from people we trust. This way we can minimise the risk of making a bad purchase. By giving us something valuable, people often gain our trust.
  3. Use recommendations. Generate reviews and recommendations from your existing customers whenever possible. Incorporate these recommendations into your business page and use the feedback to improve your work. Ideally, develop processes to always generate recommendations and reviews. Honestly, who doesn't go by the ratings of others?
  4. Resist the temptation. You are already convinced of your product or service. You have yet to inspire others. Not everything you like will suit your customers. So don't go by your personal taste, but go by the taste of your customers.
People as old creatures worship Sale Schild, consumer abundance


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