Are you talking about the ‘Triple Bottom Line’?

When it comes to marketing we often talk about the 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) and more recently there’s been a lot of talk about purpose as, the now infamous, Simon Sineck asked businesses to look further than their commercial goals and start with their ‘Why’.

But there’s a new set of P’s on the block with growing talk of the ‘Triple Bottom Line’, the framework for measuring sustainable businesses – People, Profit and Planet.

Despite John Elkington coining the phrase as far back as 1994, perhaps it has grown more popular recently for two reasons: a growing war on plastic making many businesses think more seriously about the planet and the growing publicity of equality, diversity and mental health demonstrating a greater need to consider people more broadly.

Whatever has caused this trend towards leading more sustainable, rounded businesses, it’s a great thing for brands to shout about. Whether it’s a new approach to your Annual Reports, additional content for your website or a new agenda for internal communications, it’s worth reviewing your communications strategies to ensure you’re balancing your content appropriately, here are some ideas to get you going….

People

Sometimes known as the social equity of the business, or the human capital bottom line, in this context, this refers to all your stakeholders including customers, suppliers, shareholders and staff with the goal to have fair, compassionate and honest relationships with all. Moving beyond ticking the box of CSR, businesses need to have long-term, sustainable strategies to support the needs of the people around them in the knowledge that sustainable businesses attract and retain good customers and talent. If you’re a great employer, supporting apprentices or are on a mission to drive a great culture, make sure you’re talking about it in your internal and external communications.

Planet

Whether it’s reducing the carbon emissions of the business by having a ‘green’ office or innovating to reduce others, saving the planet is a joint responsibility. Increasing genuine efforts to work more sustainably and encourage others to do the same can only improve the reputation of your brand. If you’re making progress in controlling energy usage, reducing waste, increasing the life-cycle of your products or innovating to reduce emissions make sure you’re talking about it. Every little helps.

Profit

The traditional bottom line of measuring profits and share value remains because investing in people and the planet will usually involve being a profitable business in the first place, but you can still consider how you communicate your commercial results. Could you be more transparent on what you’ve invested in?

And for those who are unconvinced about this broader view of measuring the business, don’t panic, being a good (ethical) business is also good (financially rewarding) for business. Not only is it easier to attract great customers and talent when you’re an ethical business, but recent studies show that on average companies that pay active attention to their wider social responsibilities are more profitable than those who don’t. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) research shows that companies using Triple Bottom Line auditing significantly outperform the Down Jones Stock Market Index. It’s thought that this is because they attract more motivated, public spirited, engaged, better qualified employees and as a result are more productive.

Get in touch if you want to re-think your communications strategy.

Published in Insight / Research
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