What is Ethical Marketing?

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Ethical marketing. Business ethics. Ethics. It’s nothing new. We all probably already have an idea of how ethics and morals should play into one’s career. And the business world in general. The hard part is figuring out how to portray one’s ethics through marketing in an authentic, original way. Keep reading to find out what ethical marketing is and how to correctly do it. 

What is Ethical Marketing Exactly?

The essence of ethical marketing is figuring out how to go beyond showing how your service or products will benefit consumers’ lives. Going beyond means not only showing those benefits but also showing how your products or your overall company are helping the overall greater good. This greater good could relate to the environment, the homeless, healthcare, etc.

The beauty of ethical marketing is that, while it can be applied to all of society in general, it can also apply to anything you want it to be. You can find any cause that is important to you, something you are passionate about, and go from there. Because of this, ethical marketing does not have to be a chore. Instead, it can be something truly fun into which you can pour your creativity. 

What are the Foundations?

Well, first thing’s first. Though ethical marketing can be applied to your own specific, niche causes and passions, there are just a few basic morality points that need to be hit first. This is in order to establish your credibility in marketing something as “ethical.”

1. Make Sure Your Practices Line Up with Your Morals

For example, you can’t be the champion of healthcare and donate to philanthropic causes for healthcare if you’re simultaneously creating products out of sweatshops with underpaid workers. No matter how many hospitals you contribute to, it will not mean anything if you are not first employing the most basic of morals in your practices.

Some other basics to establish within your ethical marketing include having fair trade practices, non-discriminatory hiring, good working conditions, respect for the environment, fair opportunities for promotions and so much more. However, if you start out with these basic points as a value for your company, it will make the process of marketing yourself as an ethical company much, much easier. 

2. Be Transparent

You may be asking yourself, “Okay, but how do I actually show people I believe in these values in a way they believe?” The first step starts with transparency and accountability. The truth is, it may be hard to hit all of these points and follow them from the very start. This is true especially if you’re a new business trying to make a profit. People understand this. They are still willing to listen to what you have to offer, especially if you are transparent about your abilities and reach as a company.

If you are honest from the get-go about what your company is currently doing, and what you hope to eventually be able to do for society, people will be willing to listen. What consumers do not want to listen to, however, are empty promises.

3. Follow Through

The second step to effective ethical marketing is walking the walk. This along with showing the proof that you really follow through on these “ethics” that your marketing claims are so important to you. It is not enough to just vow or promise your values anymore. Consumers expect to see the proof.

It is this very reason that companies, such as Patagonia, have so much success and such loyal customers. Patagonia actually follows through on what they claim to believe in. For example, Patagonia, one of the world’s strongest outdoor active-gear companies, has always pledged its dedication to sustainable practices. But they truly showed this dedication when they launched an anti-consumerism campaign. This happened one year on Black Friday to discourage people from buying more of what they already have. Their “Don’t Buy This Jacket: The Greenest Product Is the One that Already Exists” campaign encouraged consumers to re-wear, reuse, and recycle their old clothing instead of buying new ones.

Patagonia easily could’ve launched an opposite type of campaign that encouraged people to buy from them on Black Friday and made an enormous profit. However, they chose not to, because they wanted to show how much they meant what they said they believe in. As a result, they earned far more loyal customers that will buy from them for years to come.  More so than they ever would have with a basic “buy from us” campaign on Black Friday that year. 

That exact example reveals just why ethical marketing matters. Not only are you truly showing the world your values and actually working to do good in the world, but ethical marketing also benefits your business with real results.

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