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Marketing / Communication skills

Ethical marketing: How do I market myself ethically?

Marketing isn’t the domain of snake-oil salesmen anymore. No matter your industry, truth and authenticity will allow people to get to know, like and trust you.

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In some industries, marketing is seen as something of a ‘no-no’. It’s considered that a marketer’s main objective is to corrupt the minds of innocent folk to influence them to buy products and services they don’t need.

Ethical marketing isn’t like this. It’s honest, authentic and a practice that will have you building loyal customers for life.

Try the following tips to keep your marketing on the straight and narrow.

1. Tell the truth, always

Don’t mislead potential customers by telling them your offering will transform their lives in a way that it can’t possibly. By all means, share the benefits but when in doubt, lean towards under promising so you can over deliver.

If your service or product really isn’t a good fit for your customer, refer them on. Give them information about your area of specialty and ask them to take a couple of business cards or a brochure to pass on to a friend who’s a better fit.

2. Build a sense of trust with your audience

Keep your marketing messages honest and authentic and make sure they’re aligned with your overall branding so that your customers experience a sense of cohesion across all of your marketing collateral. The look and feel of your website, the tone of your written content, the images you use on social media and the way you deliver your products and services should reflect something of the real ‘you’. Your marketing messages should genuinely have your customer’s interests at heart – give to them, don’t just sell to them.

If you don’t feel confident to do this alone, engage a marketing specialist but make sure you work closely with them in the early months and let them know if the content they’re generating doesn’t feel like a good fit for your brand.

"Ethical marketing is honest, authentic and a practice that will have you building loyal customers for life."

3. Create an ethical sales and returns policy

We all know what ethical selling isn’t. Taking your clients into a tiny room and pressuring them to sign on the dotted line; locking people into long term contracts without an option to cancel or pressuring someone who is ill-informed into purchasing on credit are all practices ethical marketers avoid.

By all means, learn to ‘close the sale’ but do it in a professional and moral way. Keep in mind that your objective is to exceed your customer’s expectations so they tell all of their friends how exceptional your business is.

And make sure to include information on your website about your returns policy. If you back your offering 100% and you’re delivering a quality product or service, you’ll have very few requests for refunds.

4. Follow your industry’s guidelines

If you’re in a profession where you know it’s not permissible to market to your customers in certain ways, don’t be tempted to ignore the rules. The consequences won’t be great.

Find a way to work around the restrictions by using marketing strategies such as networking to put you in front of your ideal clients and don’t be afraid to ask satisfied clients to mention you to anyone who might need your services.

Finally, all of us need to remember not to let our concerns about ethics be an excuse to shy away from marketing. Get out there amongst people. Share your thoughts and ideas on social media. Build a loyal and engaged following, and watch as your business begins to thrive.

Do you work in an industry that looks unfavourably on any kind of marketing? What kind of ethical marketing have you felt comfortable doing to date?

Kate James

runs coaching programs for creative startup businesses and she facilitates mindfulness workshops retreats in Melbourne, Bali and Byron Bay. Kate is the author of Believe in Yourself & Do What You Love and Be Mindful & Simplify Your Life.

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