Sometimes I imagine all the companies claiming to be the “the world leader,” “best,” “greenest,” and most whatever having a smackdown in some sort of marketing Thunderdome to see who’s really on top. OK, so I’m a communications geek. But the point remains: almost certainly, none of these companies is the ultimate, and if any of them are, they can’t prove it.
What of it? Some would say (and I’ve heard some green gurus say) that these kinds of claims are “just marketing”—people know it’s hype. True, and that’s how companies that make unprovable claims start teaching their customers that they are untrustworthy and their marketing is B.S.
Probably not a huge problem if you’re selling diet snack cakes (your customer has agreed not to question the implausible), but if you’re selling sustainability, think again. This kind of marketing can undermine a great product by inspiring skepticism and overshadowing claims that are well-supported. It can also raise the suspicions of greenwash monitors (see Carolyn’s earlier post on spotting greenwash).
To be credible, claims first have to be provable (that’s why this is a highly rated factor in the Thinkshift Credibility Quotient™). And provable claims are both specific and verifiable. Make the strongest statement you can support, be specific, and back it up. Then you’ll have some support when you get challenged for a smackdown.