When implemented properly, green marketing campaigns can significantly increase consumer trust. A business that shows a constant willingness to preserve the environment and help others can exude a perpetual state of positive PR, helping to net new leads and enforce loyalty among current customers.
It’s not a secret that being green-friendly makes a business look good, so, unfortunately, some businesses have attempted to masquerade as caring about the environment, even while their products or philosophies are in stark contrast to green-friendly initiatives. These companies are referred to as "greenwashers" and are the precise opposite of what businesses should aspire to. Busted greenwashers often see their businesses crumble due to a growing lack of trust among consumers.
To properly use green marketing to gain your customer’s trust while avoiding the greenwashing pitfall, consider the tips below:
Communicate Your Values
Posting green-friendly sentiments on social media is easy enough — businesses need to do more to actually back up their talk. One integral way to do this is to communicate these values in a visible and meaningful way.
Firmly establish these values by having the CEO or company spokesperson show visible commitment to green-friendly priorities. This commitment could be shown through a fun blog post, like showing how the CEO's home or office is equipped with green-friendly products, or through something larger, like a public donation to a green-friendly charity or initiative. Also, don't be afraid to tout green-friendly accomplishments like eradicating paper entirely in the office or controlling the usage of a certain material — as when HSBC was acclaimed for becoming carbon neutral in 2005.
Use Third Parties Where Possible
Businesses don’t have to rely only on themselves for green-friendly initiatives. Many third parties exist primarily to aid businesses with a genuine commitment to being green-friendly, commonly through awards. Toyota's Prius received accolades from the United Nations, National Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club for its efficiency. Toyota was wise to tout this everywhere, as brand endorsements can be massive.
Eco-labels — like Energy Star and USDA Certified Organic — are always helpful toward sales. This accreditation should be granted if the product matches the specifications, some of which are drawn out in the FTC Green Guides.
Make Consumers Feel Meaningful
Centering campaigns around an actionable event, such as the purchase of an item, can rally a consumer base when the initiative is perceived as charitable. Procter & Gamble launched a campaign around their dishwashing liquid, for which they donate one dollar to the Marine Mammal Center for every package bought. The business that donates may lose money in the short-term, but the positive attention the product and brand receives will prove meaningful for both the brand’s image and concrete numbers in the long-term.
Using real customers in promotional materials can be another way to connect with consumers: It shows that your business has fulfilled its need in a way that went above and beyond. Clopay Door provides a good example in their blog post centered on how their Door Imagination System met the green-specific needs of Kim Erle after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.
These tips will aid any business in using green marketing to gain their customers’ trust, a task best accomplished primarily via communicating values, using green-friendly third parties to promote initiatives and centering campaigns around emotional connection with real consumers and customers.
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