Marketing doesn’t always have the best reputation – and in the past that’s often been well deserved – but here’s a short list of six things you can do to help make your company and marketing strategies more ethical.
- Be honest
Probably the main thing within ethical marketing is to be honest – it seems like such an obvious thing to say but marketing has not always had a great reputation for telling the truth. It’s important to concentrate on the positives rather than exaggerate or lie. Whole campaigns, even whole companies can and have been brought down by lies. The Volkswagen emissions scandal is one case in point where a huge amount of damage was done to the company’s reputation when they were found to have lied. Whatever your product or service there will always be positives to concentrate on; it is not worth risking your relationship with your customers or clients by being caught in a lie. In the past people have made dubious decisions when it comes to their marketing, made outlandish claims which are either not true or certainly cannot be quantified. If you wish to be an ethical company you have to concentrate on what is true. Don’t mislead, don’t put people in positions where you know they will make assumptions that are not true. Keep to the fact, keep to the positives tell people the truth about why they should want to work with you or want your product.
- Check the companies you use in your supply chain
You can be as ethical as you like but if the companies you use are not then you may find you’re doing as much damage. It can be argued there is little point in you trying to do the right thing, if you then give money to companies who will not. This is easier said than done, but it is important that you know how your supply chain or the people that you use do business. You should find out about their environmental practices, about their diversity, about how they treat their staff and the communities around them. By only working with other ethical companies you will encourage more companies to be ethical. I do understand this is a difficult one for some companies because of the financial restraints but if at all possible, it can make a big difference. The more companies demand their suppliers to be ethical the more reason there are for those suppliers to try. You might find that this costs you more but it will be worth it to both your peace of mind and your company image. It is also possible by proving that you run an ethical supply chain that people might be willing to pay a little bit extra to ensure that you use only ethical companies. More and more people want to work with ethical companies if you can show that you are an ethical company and that you only work with other ethical companies then it could well help to drive customers towards you especially if your rivals don’t care who they are involved with.
- Check where you advertise
This has always been important but has become a more visible in recent weeks with the YouTube and Google scandal with many advertisers withdrawing and suspending advertising due to placement alongside extremist content. Throughout the last few years groups such as Stop Funding Hate have become far more powerful in getting across their message. The result of this involved companies such as the Body Shop removing advertising from newspapers such as the Daily Mail, who have been accused by many of inciting hatred and bigotry. It is becoming more and more important that you keep a close eye on your brand safety and make sure that where and how you advertise matches the ethical viewpoint you wish to portray your company as having. It is no longer acceptable to sell yourself as an ethical company if you do not pay attention to where you are advertising. Customers and clients expect the companies they do business with to not appear in places which may be viewed as controversial at best. Many groups and businesses are now boycotting advertising on the likes of Breitbart and other far right wing press. They feel these are not organisations they wish their brand to be associated with. It is important that you make these considerations when you are looking to advertising as more and more where you advertise is seen as a reflection on the way that you do business. Brand safety has probably never been as important as it is now so this has to be considered when moving forward.
One of the most important things you can do in marketing in general is know your client base. When you talking about marketing it’s a great idea to have some kind of dialogue with that client base to see what it is that they’re looking for from you and to build up a relationship. I have seen some horrendous cases of marketing recently where the company is flat-out ignoring all emails or contacts from customers. Without that kind of dialogue it’s very difficult to maintain the closeness with customers that is important to create the longevity of any company. There is also the opportunity to try and help both your customers and the community in how you do your marketing. Campaigns such as Dove self esteem project work by not only advertising the product but also providing a service and helping the customers out with initial purchase. Things such as the #likeagirl campaign from Always are great campaigns to be showcasing the best of ethical marketing. You could also look at helping your local community in other ways such as sponsoring events or even giving your services: all of this helps both the local community and also helps to market yourself as a caring and ethical company. Doing what you can for local or national causes is also a great way to gain both publicity and respect for doing the right thing. Engagement on all levels is important in business and more so if you’re trying to be ethical. Creating this link with your customers allows them to speak to you directly about what may concern them about your business, and also allows you to speak to them about ways in which you could improve. They can speak to you about ways in which you could appeal to them more, all of which can help you to gain more customers in the long run as well as helping to solidify your reputation as a company who listens and cares about its customers.
- Champion diversity – be inclusive
We are lucky enough to live in a digital age with a Global marketplace where things such as the Internet mean that we no longer held back by distance so we are working with people round the world of every race, colour, creed, sexuality and gender. More and more companies are now realising how important that versatility is to creating a mix of skills which will help take people forward. It is important that as an ethical company that you also realise the bonuses income from diversity. It’s been proven that companies that have a better male and female mix at the top of the corporate ladder are more successful in general then those with solely male demographic. It’s been proven time and again that a strong racial mix can also make a business more successful. It stands to reason that the more diverse your workforce the more likely it is that you can appeal to a more diverse market and that in itself will open many more opportunities. Diversity is one of those things which some people cry as ticking a “political correctness” box when companies try to champion it but even taking away it is the right thing to do. the figures speak for themselves that the more diverse your company the most successful it is likely to be.
- Be environmentally friendly where possible
This is another one which is probably quite obvious but where at all possible look out for the environment. This is one of those things it can be done in so many different ways – in small ways and in large ways. It can be as simple as fitting sensors to switch the lights off when there’s nobody in the offices, to minimise packaging , to using petrol and diesel less within your transportation. It seems to have become more the norm in some places to see environmental issues as not as important as they once were, however more and more companies are realising that helping the environment can help their public profile. It can be a unique selling point that you do something in an environmentally friendly fashion when others in similar situations do not. It can be something that you use to show people how serious you are about future generations and it can help to build your legacy. It doesn’t always have to be huge changes in how you do your business to make a difference. Even companies who are not necessarily known for having the best ethical viewpoint are now beginning to see that creating environmental programs can help not only with the supply chain but with public perception. People expect their ethical companies to have ethical viewpoints and so the treatment of the environment is one of the most important in the eyes of many customers.
This article was written by, and is (c) Stuart Mitchell of SM Marketing. All opinions, recommendations and views expressed in this article are solely those of SM Marketing.