You might have noticed that a lot more manufacturers are talking about sustainability: both their own sustainability initiatives and how their products and services help customers pursue sustainability efforts.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.
The increased attention toward sustainability is coming from two sides. First, manufacturers are realizing economic benefits from sustainability initiatives. And second, buyers are demanding products manufactured using greener and more environmentally sound processes.
Manufacturers focused on sustainability can achieve a number of business benefits:
Reduced costs—Whether making use of natural lighting on a shop floor, reusing wastewater, investing in energy-efficient machinery, reducing scrap and waste, or gaining tax credits through use of renewable energy sources, green practices can contribute to cost reductions over time.
New customers—Many buyers are now concerned with sustainability and are looking for greener products and products sourced more locally. This presents new market opportunities for suppliers adopting green policies and practices.
Positive brand associations—Sustainability initiatives can help increase positive attributes associate with your brand. Customers and the market are paying much greater attention to sustainability and those manufacturers that are part of the solution can become the object of that attention.
Attract new employees—As older engineers retire, manufacturers must compete with each other to attract a new generation of millennial engineers. Younger engineers tend to care more about environmental issues such as climate change, natural resource use, and green business practices. Manufacturers committed to sustainability have that extra something to offer in their recruiting efforts.
Both small and large companies are embracing sustainability practices, for economic as well as ethical reasons. They are working to educate the market about the importance of carbon footprint reduction and energy savings, and showcasing their sustainability plan in their marketing and communication efforts. You should too, if your company is committed to sustainability.
Your website is the first impression many of your customers and prospects have with your company. Bring your sustainability message to the forefront by dedicating a page to your efforts. Include sustainability practices, certifications, awards, and other content that promotes your company’s commitment to sustainability.
KPS Global, a manufacturer of insulated panels, has a Sustainable Solutions page under its About Us section. Chromalox, a company that engineers thermal solutions, leads with a sustainability message on its home page. These companies realize the importance of promoting sustainability to the market.
Consider including a brief sustainability message on marketing content such as datasheets, white papers, and presentations. You might also have an opportunity to add sustainability language to boilerplate content such as company descriptions. Go further and produce a webinar that is focused on sustainability and why it matters to your customers.
If your products and services help customers save resources or energy or operate in other environmentally friendly ways, those benefits should appear in your marketing content. Make clear to your customers your awareness of the importance of sustainability.
Take Advantage of Lean Manufacturing
The goal of lean manufacturing is to eliminate all unnecessary waste from operations. Waste is defined as anything that doesn’t add value for the customer.
If your company engages in lean practices, you might find that your lean manufacturing processes produce sustainability benefits that you can talk about.
For example, Baxter Healthcare Corporation developed a value stream map that saves 170,000 gallons of water a day. Columbia Paint & Coatings reduced 15,000 pounds of paint solids from wash water and saved 18,000 pounds of shrink wrap. These are the kind of results that companies should communicate to their customers.
It’s important to keep in mind that sustainability isn’t just a buzzword you adopt to get attention in the market. Customers will see through any transparent attempts. If your company hasn’t done so already, it’s time to address sustainability in a coordinated, integrated, and formal manner. Marketing has an important role to play in this new era.