Everybody talks about being "green" in their business practices, and consumers often say they want to buy "green" products. But the disparity between talk and action is often wide.

A McKinsey Quarterly Study from March 2008 showed that 87% of consumers are concerned about the environment and the social impact of the products they buy. However, only 33% of consumers indicated they were ready to buy green products or have already done so.

Reman has always been green

For heavy-duty remanufacturers, green is an 80-year-old message. Through educational flyers, the Automotive Parts Remanufacturing Association emphasizes the number of American "green" jobs and the environmental benefits derived from remanufacturing.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association campaign tells the aftermarket green story. Go to www.aftermarket.org/green to find out more and to download materials.

Remanufacturing is a green angle that can offer a huge selling point when telling your story. A look at all your business practices may uncover other environmental strengths within your company, such as the use of recycled parts or renewable resources.

Keep in mind that the "green" message can be used to attract socially conscious young people who are looking for jobs that supportthe green cause. It also can create good will with customers and build awareness of your products.

In addition, green messaging can help your business "walk its talk" and should be integrated throughout your business. Make sure you identify the audience that cares about green and take the time to focus on long-term opportunities.

One company's story

A&A Midwest began in 1949 in Chicago. Through its cores division, it has supplied remanufacturers with engines, transmissions and internal engine parts for more than 60 years. It's also a full-service recycler in Las Vegas, handling metals, plastic, cardboard and electronics. The company developed informational flyers to educate consumers on metal recycling, metal theft and remanufacturing.

Here's what A&A Midwest has learned:

Make yourself available to the media for green stories. As a remanufacturer you have the expertise to speak authoritatively on green practices.

Publicize your green, sustainable practices. There are green practices the media are not aware of. Tell your story in a news release, customer newsletter and on your website.

Talk about your educational efforts. Develop educational materials that are available to customers, prospects and for download on your website.

Avoid "greenwashing." Greenwashing is the dangerous practice of saying you are a green company, but not really practicing what you preach.

Green is not magic

There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to green marketing. Make sure yours is unique and specific because your target audience will ask: "What's in it for me today?"

In his book, "The Truth about Green Business," Gil Friend says, "Going for the green - and even getting there - doesn't guarantee business success. You still need great products and services, impeccable execution and stellar customer communications - all the elements of which a great business depends."

Gary McCoy is the public relations director for The Marx Group, which provides business strategy and marketing communications for automotive aftermarket clients. To help you go green, The Marx Group invites you to download a green marketing worksheet at: www.themarxgrp.com/