There has been an uptick in the market for greener products in recent years. If you are looking to boost your business’s reputation due to your concern for the environment, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends sticking to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines for Environmental Marketing Claims to avoid exaggerating your company’s impact.
There are many different shades and hues when it comes to operating as a green company. Some businesses strive to manufacture products that are better for the environment, while others take steps to be greener in daily operations through measures such as recycling, using carbon offsets and taking steps to save energy.
Being more environmentally friendly makes good business sense. It also could make your company money, as consumers are more often looking to buy and use products and services that won’t be as harmful to the environment.
The BBB offers the following advice on promoting your business’s greener side.
• Tell the truth. Few things destroy a company’s credibility with consumers faster than false advertising; regardless, some advertisers stretch the truth when it comes to talking up the eco-friendly qualities of products. When bragging about your shade of green, as with any advertising or marketing claims, always tell the truth.
• Make concrete claims. An honest advertiser will not make vague statements such as “environmentally friendly” or “sustainable” without qualification and solid examples to back up the claim. If your packaging is made from recycled paper, then say so. If your company has reduced energy costs, brag about it. However, make sure your claims abide by the FTC’s Green Guidelines. The FTC recommends marketers should avoid implications of significant environmental benefits — if the benefit is, in fact, negligible. Making fuzzy claims can get you into trouble.
• Provide evidence. Consider creative ways of quantifying your company’s impact, such as how many hours your employees volunteered. Who has benefited and how have they benefited from your firm’s efforts? How are your products better for the environment?
• Get a stamp of approval. While there is no universal “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for green products, there are independent third party organizations that will certify your environmentally-friendly statements. Research any third-party carefully before seeking certification through its program. Avoid making claims about certification or seals that might be considered exaggerated or overly-broad. The FTC recommends that all claims should be accompanied by clear and prominent qualifying language that can back up the environmental seal.
• Get expert help. As a result of the green-frenzy that has taken over the country, many new boutique marketing and advertising firms are now specializing in branding companies as environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Getting outside PR help can be expensive; however, the rewards could be substantial in terms of revenue, reputation and goodwill.
Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and email@example.com.