How to Market Your Green BusinessYou’ve taken steps to go green within your clinic. Now it’s time to let your community know all the good you’ve done—not just to gain additional customers, but also to encourage other businesses in your community to follow suit. Here are five steps to marketing your green efforts.

1.) Know your audience. According to an Entrepreneur article, Matt Villano explains that “marketing your business as green is a great idea—provided your customers are into that sort of thing.” Scope out your community. Do your customers seem interested in the green topic? Are local businesses in other industries touting their greenness? Assess your current and potential audience to make sure they’ll be receptive to your marketing. In short, never simply assume people will want to visit your business just because you’re greener than your competitors.

 2.) Define your green. The term “green” means different things to different people. Perhaps you’ve taken several steps to conserve electricity and water in your practice or you’ve started a carpooling program. In either case, it’s important to define your green both to your practice and your audience. Most importantly, make sure what you’re doing truly is green or beneficial to your community and environment, because misrepresenting your “greenness”—also known as “greenwashing”-—can prove monumentally detrimental to your business.

3.) Make green the add-on. Even with a solid definition of your green, your marketing can’t stand on green alone. As Park Howell, president of Park&Co, a sustainable marketing firm in Phoenix, explains: "In these overwhelming efforts to come across as eco-friendly, most small businesses taking their products to market miss the most important differentiators: quality and price.” Instead of simply stating how you’re green, focus on what truly sets your practice apart and then tack on the green as a bonus. For example, if you specialize in pediatric occupational therapy and use recycled activity equipment, then you’d first advertise how your niche specialty can help your audience and then how your greenness will benefit them (and the planet) as well.

Speaking of niche specialties, if you’re an OT who specializes in ergonomics or worker rehab, check out this AOTA podcast. It focuses on an emerging specialty for OTs—green ergonomics—and describes “how occupational therapy practitioners can contribute to sustainable building design through marketing their expertise in ergonomics to the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system as well as the green school movement.” Learn more here.

4.) Walk the walk. When it comes to green marketing, “transparency is key,” says Matt Villano. “For this reason, it's important for companies that market themselves as green to operate sustainably in many of their day-to-day operations.” Essentially, if you’re going to market yourself as a green company, you better actually be green. For example, if your clinic has basically eliminated paper use, then a print advertisement probably isn’t the best route. Check out these 20 tips for being green in your own marketing.

5.) Reinvest locally. This step goes hand-in-hand with walking the walk. Being green has a great deal to do with sustainability, and a key part of that is reinvesting in your community. Perhaps you’ve started gardening with patients as a therapeutic exercise; consider expanding that into the community. You could also donate your money or time to local green organizations or initiatives.

So, your practice is green, and now you have a few steps to better market your practice and thus, make some additional green. Tell me your experiences! Are you a green rehab therapy practice? How do you market your greenness in your community? Did you apply any of these steps? How did it go?

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