Building Trust for Success: The Power of a Sustainable Brand in the MICE Industry
Sustainability has definitely been a buzzword over the past few years. More and more brands are committing to making a conscious effort to lessen the negative impact that their business has on the planet and its people, and the MICE industry is no different.
Gaining your audience’s trust is an essential part of a successful journey to sustainability. In order to experience the benefits of marketing yourself as a sustainable brand, you need people to trust and believe in what you’re doing. Trust is also an important factor in general brand success, helping to grow your following and build strong connections with customers or attendees that lead to repeat business.
In this article, we discuss sustainable brand positioning in the MICE industry, the benefits of building brand trust, and how you can market your brand’s sustainability efforts to build more trust between you and your audience.
In this article:
What Is a Sustainable Brand?
Sustainable brands have more of a purpose than just making money. They aim to embody sustainable practices in how they run their business, promote these values and encourage others to do the same.
Sustainability in business can sometimes mean maintaining a certain growth trajectory, but in this context, we’re talking about it as a way of having a minimal impact on the planet and its people. If your brand is sustainable, it makes a conscious effort to support environmental, social and economic issues through things like minimising waste, following ethical practices and facilitating improvement or progress through its work.
What Makes a Brand Sustainable?
A sustainable brand is hard to define, as there are many ways in which a company can be considered sustainable. But what matters the most is that your sustainability claims are authentic and that your brand is actively making an effort to make a difference, instead of just making claims that you cannot back up.
How your brand uses sustainable practices will vary a lot based on what it is that you do within the MICE industry. An event planning business might prioritise working with suppliers that only use sustainable materials or ingredients as a way of making their events more eco-friendly. A conference might choose to only accept sponsorship from charities or businesses that have a trustworthy sustainable background.
Incentive travel brands might promote sustainability by only organising trips to locations that won’t be impacted by over-tourism, choosing eco-friendly accommodation for guests, or encouraging more sustainable modes of transport. Any brand in the MICE industry might also use its profits to support charities pushing for sustainability or offering free services to these organisations.
Building a sustainable brand image starts with your brand’s values, purpose and goals. If sustainability isn’t a fundamental part of your business, however you’re going to pursue this, your sustainability claims are going to feel false. And if these claims feel false, your target audience won’t trust your brand.
What Is Brand Trust?
Brand trust refers to the amount of trust your customers or target audience have in what your brand shares with them. If people believe that you will deliver on what you promise and are loyal to your brand, they trust you and the image you have created.
Trust in a brand is built over time and often requires the target audience or customer base to have positive experiences with a brand that proves they can trust them. In the MICE industry, this might come from attending an event, having a fulfilling interaction with an employee from a brand, or witnessing a brand deliver on one of its claims.
When it comes to sustainability, building brand trust involves being open about your efforts to be a sustainable business and having the evidence to support the things you say you are doing. If people can trust that you’re as sustainable as you say, they’ll be much more likely to support your brand.
Why Is Brand Trust Important?
Brand trust is important because it’s an essential part of customer loyalty, which in turn impacts growth and success. Research by Yotpo has found that 35.2% will make purchases from a brand they feel ‘loyal’ to, even if they are cheaper options. When your target audience trusts you and feels loyalty because of this trust, you can feel confident that they’ll stick with your brand and help you grow.
It’s also a key part of establishing a positive brand reputation, which you’ll need if you want your brand to grow and experience long-term success in the MICE industry. Research by Edelman not only shows that customers are likely to stay loyal to brands that they trust, but that they’re also likely to advocate for them, helping to grow and improve their reputation.
From an economic perspective, a consumer survey by Salsify found that 46% of people are happy to pay more for a brand they trust. If your MICE business is trusted by your target audience, they’ll be happy to pay more for your events or services because of the connection they feel to your brand.
A recent study by Nielsen IQ found that a sustainable lifestyle is important to 78% of consumers and that 30% of these people are more likely to make a purchase that has sustainable credentials. If you want to appeal to this rising trend of consumers prioritising supporting sustainable brands, you need to ensure that your target audience trusts you.
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How to Build Brand Trust
Building brand trust is important in all areas, but especially with sustainability. Whilst more and more brands are being seen to make an effort towards becoming more sustainable, there’s also been a rise in companies getting called out for greenwashing.
‘Greenwashing’ refers to creating a deceptive impression about how environmentally friendly a company or its products are, often by making misguided claims or focusing on so-called sustainability efforts that actually have no impact on the environment. When it comes to sustainability claims, brands that greenwash are in danger of losing the trust of their target audience and potentially gaining a poor reputation in their sector.
Today’s customers are growing more conscious of greenwashing how companies might be embellishing their environmentally-friendly claims. So, it’s incredibly important that your target audience can trust that you are a sustainable brand in the MICE industry that is worth their support.
You need to focus on building trust across the board, as well as focusing on making reliable sustainability claims. Below are four key methods of building a sustainable brand image by getting your audience, customers or attendees to trust your business.
Deliver on Your Promises
Perhaps the most important and impactful piece of advice for building brand trust is delivering on the promises that you make. Making a claim or a statement and then failing to follow through is the fastest way to disappoint your target audience and lose their trust.
In the MICE industry, this revolves around ensuring that the experiences you offer your attendees are delivered in a way they were advertised to them. This works in two ways; making sure that you facilitate the experience you’re promoting, but also checking that any promotional content isn’t misleading or exaggerated.
On a simpler level, it involves sticking to your brand’s values and mission and ensuring that you are working towards these with what you do.
The best way to demonstrate your brand’s credibility in this area is to be explicit about the actions you’re taking and the impact they have. For MICE brands, case studies and attendee testimonials are a great tool for this.
Facilitate Positive Experiences
Another way to build trust in your brand is to ensure that everyone that comes into contact with it has a positive experience. If people feel grateful and satisfied with the interactions and experiences they have with your brand, trusting it will come a lot easier.
Customer service is a massive part of this, and for MICE brands this falls under the umbrella of attendee experience in most cases. If your meetings and events are enjoyable, helpful and facilitate positive interactions with representatives from your brand, attendees will come away feeling connected and knowing that future interactions will likely be positive as well.
The experiences you have virtually with your target audience are also important for brand trust and brand loyalty. Make sure that feedback is acknowledged and responded to, never leave people waiting too long for a response, and think of ways to create engaging and memorable moments of connection through things like social media and email.
Recognise Your Audience
Leading on from that point, another approach to building brand trust is making sure that you recognise and interact with your audience to show them that you care about their opinions and experiences. If your brand is inactive on social media, rarely replies to messages and questions, and fails to acknowledge positive or negative feedback, it sends the message that your audience doesn’t matter. An audience that feels overlooked is unlikely to trust you.
Recognising attendees, customers and clients is easy to do in the MICE industry, it just requires time and a commitment to building relationships. Start by making sure you're responding to comments or mentions of your brand, and make an effort to respond to all enquiries, emails and questions you are asked.
Once you’re regularly recognising and interacting with your audience, you also want to ensure that you’re doing this publicly so that other potential followers or attendees notice this and understand that your brand can be trusted. Don’t overdo it to the point that it stops feeling genuine, but respond to comments publicly, mention feedback you’ve received and share how you’re going to respond to and take people’s ideas or suggestions on board.
Offer Evidence for Your Claims
This final piece of advice is most relevant for promoting brand sustainability and ensuring that the image you create is trustworthy. It’s hard to argue with evidence, so make sure that you’re supporting every one of your statements or messages with examples of what you’re doing and how it’s making a difference.
From a sustainability perspective, this involves showing the tangible difference that your actions are making and sharing the steps your brand is taking to be and do better. This also involves acknowledging where you still need to improve, which will help your brand to appear honest and open and really help to build trust with the people that see this.
So many brands attempt to make claims, especially regarding their sustainability, that have little or no evidence to back them up. By making an effort to prove your commitment, your target audience will respect and trust you a lot more.
How to Market a Sustainable Brand
We’ve already discussed how sustainability looks different for every brand, so there’s no single method of gaining a ‘sustainable’ status. Every brand in the MICE industry should start by deciding where they want to make an impact and what changes they can feasibly make to lessen their environmental or social impact, based on the services they offer, events they organise, and partners that they work with.
Marketing yourself as a sustainable brand is the important work after this. If building trust in your sustainable credentials is a priority to help with your success, you need to be actively promoting what you’re doing to embody your sustainable brand values.
Here are some of the best ways to market a sustainable brand in the MICE industry.
Align Sustainability With Your Values
Sustainable actions are going to be much more trustworthy and appear more genuine if they align with your brand’s values and purpose. Instead of trying to shoehorn sustainability into what you’re doing, make sure that your journey towards being more sustainable feels authentic and in line with your goals, and make it clear how and why brand sustainability is part of your bigger business objectives.
Create a Sustainability Landing Page
Another great way to market your sustainability efforts is to create a landing page on your website that is dedicated to your mission and the actions you’re taking. You can link to this page from your social media, email and blog content to keep directing your audience towards it. Having a page that holds you accountable demonstrates that you’re serious about sustainability and helps to build more trust in what you’re doing.
Regularly Share Updates and Actions
Whether you do this on the previously mentioned landing page, on social media or directly with attendees at events, you need to share your progress, actions and impact through your marketing material. Instead of just making a sustainable pledge with a few vague promises and then never returning to the topic, commit to sharing your journey with your audience and make sure that this happens across a variety of channels.
Encourage Sustainable Behaviour
Finally, a great way to make your brand appear more trustworthy and help to market yourself as a sustainable company in the MICE industry is to encourage sustainable behaviour and approaches from others. Not only can you suggest ways in which your attendees or followers can make more sustainable choices, but you could also start encouraging other businesses in your industry sector to follow your lead.
Building brand trust is a priority for companies that want to ensure they retain their customers and continue to build a positive reputation that helps them to stand out in their industry. When your audience trusts what you share with them, they will likely trust any work you do to become more sustainable, ensuring that you benefit from all of the advantages that a sustainable business has.
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