Marketing Yourself as Green

You know environmentally friendly cleaning is here to stay, and you’ve made some big changes in how your company operates so you can tap into the growing green market. Now, how do you let customers know your commitment to sustainability is more than a passing fad? Follow this 8-step action plan.

1. Define it. “Green” means different things to different people. For some, it might mean operating completely “off the grid,” while others may see it as simply choosing less-harmful products and procedures when possible. Before marketing yourself as green, be clear about what it means to you and how it looks in your business.

2. Make it clear. Once you understand your company’s definition of green, put in writing in the form of a mission statement. Then, outline the actions you’ve taken to support the mission. This should include everything from the products and procedures you use for clients, to how your own business operates (ie, a recycling program in your office, using energy-efficient lightbulbs, or operating fuel-efficient vehicles).

3. Be specific. When you’re tallying up your green qualifications, be specific. Vague or sweeping statements will be met with skepticism or anger. Instead of “we use less water,” spell out how you reduce water consumption, and exactly how much less water you use than traditional cleaning methods. Use facts and figures to back up your claims whenever possible. Also, be clear about any third-party certifications and awards for your products or procedures.

4. Write talking points. Your company is green … so what? Why should your customers care? Think through how your efforts can benefit them, from financial savings to public goodwill. With this understanding, you can address real-world concerns with your marketing efforts rather than spewing the same generic green messaging as other BSCs.

5.  Educate your staff. After crafting a mission statement and talking points, share them with your entire company. Everyone—not just the president and sales staff—should be well-versed in your green efforts. After initial training, remind staff of your messaging frequently (a regular email on the topic is greener than hanging signs).

6. Announce it. If you haven’t already, let the world know that you’re green. While many BSCs are implementing sustainable business practices, very few actually tell anyone about it. This step should go beyond a single press release to trade publications. Take the time to have in-person conversations with your clients; educate them about what you’re doing and how it can help their business be better.

7. Make a splash. If you’re proud of your green initiatives, shout about them! Include language about it everywhere from your website and catalogs to your business cards and vehicle fleet. For ongoing communication, write about your latest efforts on your blog, in enewsletters, and via your social media channels.

8. Be honest. No matter what, never lie to or in any way mislead consumers about your environmental efforts. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict rules prohibiting deceptive advertising and sales practices. These apply to marketing yourself as green. If you make claims about sustainability, you need to follow the FTC rules.