Ethical marketing is simply the line drawn between moral and immoral advertising to your customers. Given the current crisis, it’s the difference between communicating with authenticity and empathy, and taking advantage of customers through emotive or gimmicky messaging.
On one hand, it feels wrong to post about anything that isn’t related to the virus... who wants to hear about handmade pendants or luxury facials in a pandemic? On the other hand, consumers are crying out for old routines and ‘life as normal’ experiences.
7 keys to marketing ethically
1. Don’t ignore the issue.
Companies who appear blind to the current crisis risk being perceived as fake or intolerant to society’s big challenge. This apparent lack of empathy has the power to devalue a brand. So, let customers know what you’ve done to keep them and your team safe and inform them of changes you’ve made to products, services and how you deliver these.
2. Listen to your customers.
Run a customer survey or poll, asking how they want to be marketed to in these times. Then, act on their feedback.
3. Reset your Marketing Plan.
You likely finalised your annual Marketing Plan not long before the virus hit. However, don’t waste precious energy mourning your hard work; reset the plan, thinking short-term. Park any unpublished blogs and marketing assets created pre-Covid and check them for relevancy and sensitivity. Don’t delete your old Marketing Plan; the virus won’t last forever, and we will eventually return to a new business as usual.
4. Review your existing messaging.
Check all queued posts and existing digital content for words and phrases which might be considered insensitive or irresponsible at this time. For example, the word ‘contagious’ or phrases encouraging people to get together may not be the best choice. Make simple adjustments where you can.
5. Be respectful with new content.
Cute and gimmicky is out; kind and considerate marketing is in. We’ve all had different Covid experiences and you never know who could be hurt or offended by your words.
6. Don’t be blatantly opportunistic.
Be kind. Take care not to cross the line into unethical marketing. Instilling panic buying or a fear of missing out is taking advantage of your customers. Don’t threaten the brand equity you’ve developed with customers.
7. Accept that marketing doesn’t feel normal right now.
Lots of things feel weird right now and marketing is no exception. However, you have a business to run and it needs to make a profit to survive. Marketing is key to generating fresh leads and preventing existing customers from changing to your competitors.
Don’t put marketing on hold.
Marketing needs to be constant and consistent. Don’t be shy to market how your products and services fill a need in strange times. Simply keep your marketing messages respectful, empathetic and kind.