Providing a decent life and wellbeing for nearly 10 billion people by 2050, without further compromising the ecological limits of our planet, is one of the most serious challenges and responsibilities humanity has ever faced (United Nations, 2019).

Activities that are capable of motivating changes in the behaviour of key stakeholders, rather than simply raising awareness, will be key to addressing the range of human-led environmental damages we face. Amongst other things, this includes climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, scarcity of natural resources, pollution and their impact.

Specifically we need to ensure the widespread adoption of anything that helps us live within the ecological limits of our planet. For example, wind, solar and bioenergy continue to positively transform the power sector, and accelerating the deployment of renewable energy across the supply chain will be key to tackling a number of environmental issues.

At the very core of marketing is the development of strategies for convincing target stakeholders to change their behaviour. Therefore approaches, techniques and learnings taken from the world of marketing could be key to successfully delivering the changes we need to see in the world.

Make it relevant

Communication will only elicit a behaviour change if it promotes the relevance of issues to audiences. If it is not relevant, people won’t listen.

On the whole, people aren’t talking about climate change every day. Businesses are talking about winning new business, covering overheads and growth. Investors are talking about return on investment, market sizes and financial performance. Consumers are talking about getting through the day, paying for childcare, their job, putting food on the table and securing time for doing the things they enjoy. The conversation about environmental issues needs to be tailored to serve the everyday interests of each stakeholder.

Instead of disseminating facts and figures or filling conversations with scary negatives like “planetary disaster” or “coastal flooding”, all of which aren’t local or relevant, we need to change the conversation to focus on “bringing high paying construction jobs to Edinburgh”, “preventing your children growing up in a world without trees”, “adding significant value to Scotland’s rural economy” or “making a large return on your investment”. Key to convincing stakeholders to take immediate action is establishing how we can link environmental issues to their life, in an impactful, actionable and meaningful way. We must make audiences see issues from a personal perspective, and in doing this we will be more likely to secure positive responses from them.

Clear positioning and messaging

By making sure we take time to define a clear positioning and messaging for what we wish to promote and share, we can ensure that our most important conversations are consistently relevant to stakeholders.

We must address the need to develop relevant messages for each and every audience, which clearly articulates the pertinent benefits of our proposal to them. Without clear messaging, we will find it hard to engage with any key audiences.

To this end, it is also important to craft a positioning that is truly reflective of the value that products or services can offer to stakeholders, which ensures we cut through complex and noisy markets. Messaging and positioning strategies that differentiate and sell potentially world-changing technologies and ideas, are nearly as important as the creation of the innovations themselves.

Marketing teaches us that ensuring conversations are relevant to your audience is key to successfully delivering any and all changes we need to see in the world. To achieve this, businesses, influencers, organisations, and brands must focus on their positioning and messaging in relation to all each set of stakeholders if they wish to remain relevant and have the desired impact for their business and for mankind.