Have you heard the term, “Triple Bottom Line”? If not, you need to know it.

Essentially, the Triple Bottom line means that your small business can no longer thrive on yesterday’s marketing tactics.

Marketing Evolution

If you can only learn one thing today, learn this: Marketing is a discipline that never stays the same.

To illustrate this, I want you to consider some bygone eras in marketing.


Finding efficient ways to produce necessary goods was enough. For example, Ford’s production line made the Model T affordable for a large number of people.

Demand for the automobile grew as news of the Model T spread. Very little marketing activities were required.

Have you ever heard of Ivory Soap? The same thing happened. The presence of a mass-produced soap was enough to create a national, if not global brand.

NEWSFLASH: We’re no longer in the production era of marketing.

To thrive, your business will have to do more than offer a product or service.

Thousands of business have either identical or similar offerings. In other words, your target market has almost unlimited options.

You must do more than produce.


An era existed when businesses equated marketing with selling. During that time, the goal was to move products out of warehouses as quickly as possible.

During periods when available goods exceeded demand, companies would reduce prices to expand their pool of potential buyers. Often, this resulted in one-time customers rather than the development of a customer base.


When businesses started putting customers first, a new era began. During this time marketers began developing relationships with their target markets.

As a result, successful brands were learning about their customers’ needs, expectations, and desires. Consequently, customer satisfaction became more imporant than inventory turnovers.

The Triple Bottom Line

Marketing still depends on developing mutually beneficial relationships with customers. However, new dimensions have come into play.

In the past, profitability was the primary concern of a typical business. Nowadays, customers expect more.

In addition to generating profits, your business must improve people’s lives. Essentially, this means that you must recognize your responsibility to the communities that host and support you.

Furthermore, your business must operate in socially responsible ways. This involves minimizing your energy consumption, waste, and overall environmental footprint.

So, even if you put customers first, your business might fail if you don’t rise to the challenge of the triple bottom line.

What is the Triple Bottom Line?

Right now, successful businesses are those that give back to the community. So, if you have a reputation as being selfish or greedy, people will choose to buy from your competitors.

Your reputation as an employer also matters. Our society now realizes that people are more than living machines that are tethered to a time clock.

Your customers will now include your company’s culture and working conditions as part of their buying decision.

Similarly, if your business wastes a lot of raw materials or uses energy inefficient lighting and equipment, your brand will suffer.

Ultimately, business customers and consumers want to do business with companies that are environmentally conscious and responsible.


Many scientific studies suggest that manmade climate change is a myth that’s being used for social engineering and political gain. Also, over the past decade, numerous climate studies have been proven to be fraudulent. Does that excuse you?


You don’t have to become a radical left-wing environmental activist. All you have to do is acknowledge your responsibility as a business owner.

What is the Triple Bottom Line?

So, what is the bottom line on the Triple Bottom Line?

In addition to what I’ve already discussed, I want to emphasize several implications of the Triple Bottom Line.

Long-Term Relationships

It costs less to sell to an existing customer than to sell to a new customer. So, wouldn’t it make sense to develop a loyal customer base??

Of course.

You’ll invest a lot in the Triple Bottom Line. For this reason alone, you’ll need to develop long-lasting relationships with your customers.

Customer Relationship Management

To foster long-term relationships, you’re going to need a customer relationship management strategy. Most likely, you’re going to need CRM software to support your efforts.

Basically, you’re CRM will help you systematically track your customers as well as your business’ interactions with them.

Social Marketing

Marketers often discuss social media marketing. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about how small business owners should promote their brand based on their social responsibility.

To use different words, social marketing is delivering value to the marketplace that also delivers value to society.

For example, sustainability is a buzzword that makes almost everyone feel warm and fuzzy. So, rather than selling widgets, sell environmentally sustainable widgets made from recycled and repurposed materials.


Right now, we’re in the triple-bottom-line era of marketing. If you want to grow your business, you’re going to have to adjust your business model to:

  • Treat your employees right.
  • Give back to the community.
  • Minimize your environmental impact.

You must do this while still generating a profit and meeting the needs, expectations and desires, of your customers.

Going Farther

Are you ready to develop a winning business strategy and a successful marketing plan? Contact us today.

Additionally, you can learn more about the Triple Bottom Line at Investopedia.

Finally, check back here for the next installment of our series on marketing fundamentals.