Oops. The effort to green your company—both internally and for the whole world (well, prospective world that is) to see—was going so well. Then a blogger caught you in a little lie that he was only too happy to broadcast to that same world as “greenwashing.” Potential crisis is around the corner. What to do?
“In the Internet world, it’s almost impossible to keep things under wraps,” says Perry Goldschein, the managing director of SRB Marketing in Denville, N.J., and author of “Conscious Clicks™: A Guide to eMarketing for People, Planet & Profit.” He continues, “Either you’re going to roll with it, or fight it and lose the war. A smart brand marketer will build a good brand and protect it.”
Here’s how to do just that.
1. Admit Up Front That You’re Not Perfect
Rather than only trumpet how green your company is, it’s better to admit that your company is a work in green progress. “There is no perfect company. Every existing company is using resources and CO2. If [any prospect] is critical enough, they’ll find plenty wrong with even the best of nonprofits,” explains Goldschein.
So after you pick up what’s being said about your brand, don’t go into denial mode. Rather, “Explain why it’s happening now, and here’s how [you’re] addressing it.”
2. Recognize What Your Customers are Looking For
No, not just Green. It’s another single but powerful word: Value. “If a company is truly in touch with their customers, really listening to them and responding to their concerns, then they’re almost automatically acting in a more responsible manner,” says Mal Warwick, founder and chairman of Mal Warwick Associates, a Berkeley, Calif., and Washington, D.C.–based fundraising agency specializing in direct marketing.
Prospects increasingly care about both how green your company is and how good your products are. “They’re looking for value,” asserts Warwick.
3. Pick Your Battles
Of course, you can’t take on every negative comment or greenwashing accusation. “When you talk about the concept behind green and LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), they cover such a vast range in a product’s life cycle and organization’s life cycle. You have to pick and choose what you’re going to tout about your brand and what you’re going to monitor and comment on,” recommends Goldschein.