B2B Greenwashing....I feel that this subject is of highest urgency in the business community today. This week alone two cases of blatant greenwashing in the B2B community have caught my attention. Both cases involved marketing professionals jumping on the bandwagon and marketing themselves as green/environmentally concerned agencies to businesses and individuals who are naive and unsophisticated in the marketing arena.
In today's economic environment there are some people who will do anything to make a buck. You have to prepare yourself and your business to be able to evaluate who is sincere and who is trying to pull a fast one.
These things should raise a "Green" flag:
- Too much talk. The business talks more about being green, eco, environmental than they talk about their results. Afterall, you want to buy their services to achieve results. Being green doesn't mean that you'll produce. You can't afford to waste money & time these days. When people ask if I have a "green" agency, I tell them I have an agency - which just happens to have extensive experience in the environmental arena.
- Do they walk the walk? This doesn't mean that they have to be wearing Birkenstocks at the meeting. Go to their offices and take a look around. Ask questions. Has the business looked at their own carbon footprint and taken steps to become more environmentally responsible? How long have they been environmentally aware or concerned? Find out about the hobbies and interests of the executives to find out if they are sincere.
- Past, Present & Future...If they are telling you that they can make your company more green or have worked with green companies they should have examples and references readily available. If they don't have a green examples...pass on their services. If they do have examples, don't be afraid to call a client listed on their website or one of their connections from LinkedIN. I have more respect for business owners who do the footwork and check on my services. Those are the people I want to work with.
- Lack of Innovation - They use standard practices as the primary method of demonstrating environmental practices. These are the people who tell you that a website makes your company green. Well, maybe 15 years ago. We now use electronic communication because it is how the world communicates and its less expensive - not an example of being green. A truly green focused company should be bringing new and innovative practices and products to your business. If they aren't doing that, then they are just like everyone else.
- Birds of a Feather Flock Together. Its true you know. Are they members of green or environmental organizations? Do they attend seminars & meetings? Do they have like minded people around them? You can easily find out this information without their knowledge through social media sites like LinkedIN or Facebook.
If you have a tip to spot greenwashing in the B2B community please share with a comment. Afterall, we are all in this thing together.
** My friend Jim Newbury with Tin Roof advertising contributed to this post. Check him out at http://tinroofadvertising.com