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OK, So When IS My Business Green Enough to Promote as Such?

In the last blog, we discussed that (1) businesses should NOT promote themselves as being green, but rather as being on the path toward becoming more green or sustainable and (2) that businesses should promote their green mindset only after they have something concrete to brag about. In this blog, we’ll discuss when that might be.

I do not claim to be a marketing expert, but a key aspect of marketing is in knowing your audience. So before promoting itself as green, a company should have clarity around some key issues.

  1. What is the value to your company’s clients or other stakeholders that your company is green? What specific needs will be met?

  2. What is the value to your company of promoting itself as being green? Does it help you grow sales, enhance relationships with clients, attract better talent?

  3. What potential risks does the company face by making such claims prematurely?

Some additional criteria should be considered before a company can start promoting itself as being green.

  1. Is there a commitment towards sustainable business within the company? Are green practices included in a statement of the company’s values and within its company vision? If an outsider were to walk up to a low-level manager, would that employee be able to articulate some portion of the green message?

  2. Has your company demonstrated its green thinking in tangible ways, rather than just repackaging what it had already done?

  3. Do you have a plan in place to improve your business practices to make them more sustainable? Do you have a vision for what you’d like things to look like in three years? Do you have some short-term objectives that you can measure yourself against? Do you have defined approaches for getting there? Do you have some sustainability projects in the pipeline?

  4. Can you stand up to potential criticism for not being greener? Would you be better off proceeding under the radar, at least for a while?

In the short term, it may make sense to develop a green corporate mindset and take some demonstrable actions before promoting your company to the world as being green. The level of promotion and exposure can progress as your green capabilities grow. You may start by using internal promotion as a way of building a green culture within the company. You may then progress to a low key form of green promotion such as placing a Corporate Sustainability Report on your website. And finally, when you’re comfortable with the progress that you’re making and your place in the green business community, you may choose to brag to the outside world about what you’re doing.

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