Marketing is tough; even more so today when there are dozens of brands offering confusingly similar solutions, products and services, all vying for a piece of customers' share of mind and share of wallet. These difficulties become magnified when businesses have limited budgets, shorter timelines to market success, high overheads, need for 3X+ returns on investment etc., and these in turn sometimes force poor marketing judgement and actions.
Being a good marketer means having to bridge the gap between what the company has to offer and what customers want to buy. It requires an exceptional understanding of how and why people think and act the way they do; solving pain points, overcoming customer biases, creating compelling stories that will engage the prospect through the entire marketing and sales funnel to eventually convince the prospect to buy your solution over the others vying for his money. It is in this journey that many businesses are tempted to 'leapfrog' to achieve their revenue growth agenda, and sometimes cross over into the grey areas of ethical, questionable marketing.
Ethical Marketing has less to do with marketing strategy and more to do with philosophy, which in turn impacts marketing efforts.
For the purpose of this article, we will discuss Ethics strictly through the lens of Advertising and Marketing (keeping the customer at the core); since the overall topic of Ethics is too vast, notoriously difficult, and highly subjective as ethics resides in a grey area with many fine lines and consistently shifting boundaries.
In a highly competitive marketing environment it can easily become difficult to create an unfair competitive advantage for your brand especially if the core differentiator is limited to Price or Convenience. This results in brands turning to exaggerating claims and manipulating efficacy in their advertising and marketing efforts. The desired intent may be to quickly grow revenue or gain higher ranking on search engine results or increase commissions for social media likes or increase views to blog pages in order to raise ad revenues or to make some noise or make their advertising easy. Whatever be the reasons, one thing is for sure - it will not last as customers can be unforgiving when they feel they have been manipulated.
5 Things that Ethical Marketing Does NOT Do
Ethical Marketing avoids exaggerating benefits/ making false promises
Ethical Marketing avoids making misleading/ inaccurate statements about competitor solutions
Ethical Marketing avoids making any claim without a proven scientific method to back it up
Ethical Marketing avoids promoting/ playing to stereotypes
Ethical Marketing avoids exploiting misfortune, suffering, superstitions or manipulating emotions (i.e. anger, sadness, fear etc.) for business gain
5 Things that Ethical Marketing Does Do
Ethical Marketing begins with the core values of the company and is not subjective to the size of the organisation nor its revenue. Whether the company is a multinational or a small Kirana store, it makes a conscious decision to be open, honest and fair when it advertises to its customers
Ethical Marketing reflects the Company’s corporate responsibility (i.e. Fair Product Pricing, Uncompromised Product Quality, Transparent Sourcing and Distribution Practices, Environmental Commitment, Human Rights etc.) which in turn is an attractive proposition to customers
Ethical Marketing ensures a shared standard of truth as it clearly distinguishes it from news, entertainment or other forms of content. This included responding meaningfully to customer concerns and ensuring that their solutions offer maximised benefits and minimised risks
Ethical Marketing does not mean that it is more expensive. When done correctly it will eventually guarantee higher sales and lower customer acquisition and retention costs, and customers begin to Trust the company as it keeps its promises
Ethical Marketing protects the customer, their Data and Privacy is never compromised or misused in any manner at any point of time
Conclusion: Today, for any business to truly achieve marketing success, it is almost impossible to do it without demonstrating brand authenticity. Businesses need to not only focus on how their solutions benefit customers but also how their processes demonstrate social and environmental responsibility; these businesses will continue to be preferred by customers. These businesses that have dedicated and continue to be willing to dedicate themselves to the greater good, overlooking focusing solely on their bottom lines, will continue to see customer support and brand loyalty, and remarkable growth.
Related Reading: How Influencers marketing actually accelerates growth and sales
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