“What is ethical marketing? What’s this new invention? Isn’t this kind of a contradiction? Isn’t all marketing… marketing?” Some might say—especially that last part. You might know by now I have a gift for coming up with arguments for things people love to hate. And I love a good debate, especially on how marketing is not all bad, and it’s all within you to create *boundaries* for anything.
Ethical marketing is the only reason I do marketing, and I can sleep at night *puffs pillow and lays head in satisfaction*. You might not believe me just yet, but read on and be convinced without mischievous, magic, witchy tactics.
Now, WHAT Is Ethical Marketing?
First, let’s see what Google says. Its formal definition. “Ethical marketing is the act of promoting goods or services in an ethical and responsible manner.” That means that businesses should think about how their marketing will affect customers and society as a whole rather than just concentrating on their profits.
“OK, but I want profit.” it’s what you’re thinking right now. So why would you practice this ethical marketing?
My personal definition for ethical marketing refers back to what I said before (especially in that “Landing Pages that Convert” article; a great read, I hear) – DO NOT LIE! Yes, it’s also one of God’s commandments. Take it from God if you don’t believe in me (yet)!
1. Transparency And Honesty
The most important pillar of ethical marketing, for me, is definitely transparency and honesty. If you want to practice a more truthful way of marketing, this is your first step. This is the exact reason why so many people don’t trust sellers (in any form, physical, digital, tele, etc.) – we don’t believe anything anymore coming from a person “who sells” for this exact reason. We’ve been lied to for too many years.
Your product won’t magically fix my life; we all know it. So why not be truthful about it and tell me what it actually does for me? How does it solve my problems? What are the benefits of choosing your product instead of your competition? Let’s say I buy it, and it doesn’t live up to the expectations you created for me. What will I do then? Do you think I’ll buy it again? Maybe I won’t even keep it (that’s probably how mandatory return policies were invented, I assume).
Well, this pillar almost goes without saying. If you’re honest with me and transparent about what you’re offering, in my world, that means you also respect me as a customer. You’re not trying to fool me, take my money, or make a quick buck.
Respecting your customers should be the cornerstone of any business.
Isn’t respect the primary value to have, after which all the other good stuff comes along? You can’t have understanding, kindness, fairness, equality, boundaries etc., without respect.
But respect for the consumer has lots of other nuances. It also refers to respecting the consumers’ privacy, their right to be informed, or their right to choose. This means obtaining proper consent for their data, providing clear product information, and avoiding manipulative techniques such as high-pressure sales tactics or deceptive ads.
3. Social Responsability
This pillar goes beyond complying with laws and regulations – it’s so much more than that. And even more important, in my opinion. When practicing ethical marketing, brands should consider the social impact of their marketing, including issues such as diversity, inclusion, human rights, and, last but not least, sustainability. See how everything is interconnected in ethical marketing? How can you not have one thing without another?
Sure that you cannot do it all, or do it perfectly. But that doesn’t mean you should throw it all away and not even do little things that are in your reach or control. If everyone would be doing that, little by little, we would see a change. But for whatever reason, when talking about doing the right thing and sustainability, people tend to get this black-and-white vision and go to lengthy extremes only to find out sooner rather than later that they cannot uphold that lifestyle. So again, they throw it all away and say it didn’t work for them. For change to be upheld, you must integrate it and adapt it to your life(style). Otherwise, it’s not sustainable in the long run.
So, how do you feel about ethical marketing? Is this something you want to embrace more, or maybe something you’ve been doing already, and you didn’t know it had a name. Ethical marketing is not only the right thing to do, but it is the future of marketing. By adopting such practices, brands build trust and credibility with their customers, they create and nurture a loyal community, and help create a better world. It sounds idealistic, but something is better than nothing, and it will never be perfect anyway.
And if you want to talk some more, we’re waiting for your DM on Instagram.
Your social fairy and mental health advocate,