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Council of Better Business Bureaus ®
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Council of Better Business Bureaus
Promote Your Company’s Greener Side
March 01, 2011

The market for greener products and services has increased over recent years. If your business is looking to get a reputational boost from your dedication to the environment, the Better Business Bureau recommends sticking to the FTC Guidelines for Environmental Marketing Claims to avoid exaggerating your company’s impact.

There are many different shades and hues when it comes to being 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,” said Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “It could also make your company money as consumers are increasingly looking for products and services that won’t be as harmful to the environment.”

BBB offers the following advice on promoting your business’ greener side:

Tell the truth. Few things destroy a company’s credibility with consumers faster than false advertising; regardless, some advertisers sometimes stretch the truth when it comes to talking up the eco-friendly qualities of products. When bragging about the shade of your 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 have 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 their 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.

For more reliable advice on best business practices and advertising guidelines for your business, as well as other ways to make your business more socially conscious, go to www.bbb.org/us/Business-Resources/ or check out http://ftc.gov/bcp/grnrule/guides980427.htm to see the full list of FTC Environmental Marketing Claims Guidelines.