It’s good for business – and just good karma – to demonstrate that your company is an environmentally friendly one. In fact, a recent study from RetailMeNot indicates that a vast majority of the nation (89 percent) is willing to purchase a product that has a positive impact on the planet.
To demonstrate that your company is eco-aware, here are six tips to brand your business as a friend to the Earth.
1. Lead by example
Let prospective customers and clients know that you incorporate sustainable practices into your business, and make sure this mission starts with your employees. Highlight the ways in which your company reduces environmental impact, such as recycling, using energy-efficient products or only printing receipts upon request. Just be sure to follow the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guidelines, as there are strict rules when it comes to eco-friendly boasts in advertising. In the end, the potential backlash of “green-washing” – a.k.a. embellishing your “green” ways – could do more harm than good.
2. Align with a cause
Partnering with an environmentally-friendly cause can be part of the bigger business strategy. Companies such as Patagonia and Whole Foods, for instance, have led this trend: Patagonia by donating a portion of sales to environmental charities; and Whole Foods by supporting sustainable agriculture with its suppliers and even creating its own Eco-Scale for cleaning products sold. Consumers know this, and many are influenced to shop with these brands because of their do-gooder ways.
The next generation of startups -- such as Inkkas Shoes (www.inkkas.shoes), which partners with Trees for the Future plants and plants a tree for each shoe purchased -- are following in the footsteps of these bigger eco-business trailblazers.
If this is too big a leap for your business, however, consider eco-efforts attached to moments such as Earth Day (April 22). Tie your brand’s efforts to a green cause, either by donating proceeds during a limited time or giving back in some other unique way, such as promising to plant a tree for each item sold. Regardless of how big or little you go, make sure the cause aligns with the business strategy and isn’t simply a marketing gimmick -- as consumers will see through that. Stay authentic.
3. Use social media to (strategically) boast and inspire
Encourage conversations about environmental responsibility over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat – whichever social media platform makes sense for your company’s target audience. By starting these conversations, you’re letting customers and clients know that this issue is important to your brand. If your content is timely and creative, users will share and comment, further amplifying your business as a champion for the environment.
Some clever examples from #EarthDay 2015 include:
IKEA: Reminded people that they could inject more "green" into their living spaces by purchasing plants at their stores.
NASA: Encouraged people to share their favorite Earth snaps, complete with a custom hashtag to catalogue this content.
Nissan: Reminded people that the Nissan LEAF is an electric car -- in other words, green.
4. Consider a “greener” domain name
Businesses and personal brands are becoming craftier with the URL they choose. Many of the newest “not-com” domain options can more clearly classify your company -- or a specific “green” promotion -- as environmentally friendly.
Domain extensions such as ‘dot-green’ (.green), ‘dot-earth’ (.earth) and ‘dot-world’ (.world) give you fresh options not only for a website URL, but one for a promotional splash page. Such is the case with GM's "green" website, which highlights its environmentally friendly initiatives, products and more: www.generalmotors.green.
Plus, when these URLs get dropped into social media feeds, they stand out as innovative and cool.
Other creative examples include:
www.Leilani.green The official site of Leilani Münter, a professional race car driver and environmental activist. She was named the No. 1 Eco Athelete in the World by Discovery Channel and adopts an acre of rainforest for every race she runs.
www.ClearIntentions.glass Glass recycling startup based in Denver, Colo.
www.GotProduce.world Farming franchise offering technology-controlled greenhouses with smart hydroponics and patented growing recipes.
www.TreeClimbing.life Eco-fun tree climbing tours and lessons based in Florida.
5. Apply for green certifications
Secure an exclusive stamp that immediately tells customers that you are eco-aware. Organizations such as Green Seal and Green Key Global concentrate on the “greenness” of products and services. If you meet their criteria, you can be awarded with a green seal, logo or special insignia to proudly display on your website, marketing materials, business cards, etc. Click here for more green certifications and eco-labels.
6. Stay digital (and paperless)
The very nature of keeping promotional efforts to the online space means less paper out in the world. Make sure consumers know that this is a thought-through part of your business by issuing gentle reminders in email announcements, with a few lines in the footer along the lines of: “Please consider the environment before printing out this email.”
7. Take it offline
While reaching consumers with your eco-friendly message may be powerful in the online world, remember to remind them of the offline world. That is what it’s all about, after all – celebrating and caring for the Earth.