It’s time to get ethical. What are ethics and how do they relate to marketing your business? Ethics are the backbone to your brand. If your brand isn’t seen as ethical, consumers will not trust you. No trust? No Benjamins. There are too many competitors out there ready to take the business away from you, so you must be ethical…to develop trust…to build your brand. That’s the connection, but how do you wrap your head around this concept for application? Let’s check out the ethics scene for branding to see.
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If you’re new to branding or unclear about what ethics are in terms of marketing, we’ve got you covered. First of all, what marketing ethics aren’t are a strategy. You are dealing with a philosophy here that coordinates with your brand’s values. This philosophy revolves around what your brand thinks is acceptable, unacceptable, and on point with your business values.
Ultimately being ethical as a brand involves deciding what is right and what is wrong according to your business’s mission and values. However, by breaking down top ethical concerns according to where your brand stands, you’re able to take the appropriate stance in an instant. This ensures you don’t make a mistake and do something unethical when marketing, which could jeopardize consumer trust and brand loyalty. A good way to start this conversation is to have a brainstorming session where you identify the way your brand would respond to top ethical dilemmas.
All or None in Ethical Terms
Ethics are not a one side fits all approach to marketing. If your brand was a person, what would your brand do (WWYBD)? Would your brand be ok with promoting businesses that support animal rights or animal hunting? Would your brand be upset by hearing stories of women sex slaves, or more interested in sharing news about porn stars? WWYBD if faced with the question between political stances, go all in for Trump or be forever on the Bernie train? Here are some other kickoff points to stimulate your ethical thought processes:
- Animal rights, for or against or no comment?
- Does your business deal with children, i.e. selling children’s toys or clothing, and what would be crossing the line in dealing with this age group? Would your business avoid sourcing products from manufactures associated with breaking child labor laws?
- How does your brand stand on the topic of climate change, if asked about this topic on a social media channel?
- Would your brand be for immigrants’ rights are for the Wall?
Your brand ethics will vary according to what your business believes in. What is ethical for one brand will not be for another, and that’s entirely A-ok. Your ethics are as personalized as your brand. The more important aspect is knowing where your brand stands on ethically related conversations. That way you can respond in proper form when dealt with such situations on social media and other online marketing channels.
Ethics on Social Media
The most prominent form of marketing online is via social media, that’s for sure. Whether you stick to Facebook and Twitter or go gaga with the latest social media platform as you develop your social media marketing presence, ethics remain in the shadows. How can you keep your ethics in check when on social media? Avoid staying in the vanilla when faced with a decision to discuss a topic that is related to your brand. Just because you need to be ethical doesn’t mean you have to be quiet. Just the opposite is best, since your social media fans aren’t following you for the heck of it. They want to know where you stand and social media gives your brand that voice. Make sure that voice is both true to your brand and ethical.
Ethically Based Businesses
Here’s a clear cut case of ethics and marketing, your brand is build upon certain ethical conditions. The most obvious case would be fair trade, organic, or sustainable products or services, which requires your business to be ethical in order to survive. Your customers are watching your brand like a hawk. If you fail to meet your own ethical standards, they’ll swoop in and scorn your brand on social media with a scourge. Want to dig into the concept of just how ethical these ethics-centric companies need to be? For example, would your customers be willing to purchase fair trade goods at a deep discount, knowing that the makers aren’t going to earn their fair wage? The Wall Street Journal digs in deep on this topic if you’d like more details.
Avoiding the Ethical Debate
What if you could avoid the ethical conversation altogether? Well, it’s just not possible in today’s marketing age. With the hyper-connectivity of the internet consumers have an instantaneous opportunity to bring up topics important to them, and they want to see where you stand. If they don’t agree with your ethical understanding, chances are they won’t become a customer or loyal fan. However, that’s not your concern as there will be someone else who comes along and has the same ethics as your brand. These will become your tribe, your trusting community of fans and financial supporters.
Of course there are some ethical debates that will never win your brand brownie points, such as the acceptance of cannibalism or terrorism. Actually? You know what? As unethical as these social dysfunctions may be, there’s a consumer out there who would support such a business. C’est la vie in marketing!
To keep your business on track ethically, your brand needs an ethical policy that lays out the most prominent points your brand feels is right or wrong. Just as you update your social media marketing strategy every three months, you also want to keep a quarterly review of this policy. After all, in the fast paced world we now live in, new ethical dilemmas crop up every second.