For business owners, your main goal is to grow your business and garner more customers. While it may be tempting to try to get ahead by cutting corners, it’s important to remember that ethical marketing matters. Once you lose your audience’s trust, you may not get the chance to earn it back.
Special sales prices, limited quantities, and time limits are all good ways to entice your customers to bypass the thinking stage. With a running clock, customers don’t have as much time to think about their potential purchase. It puts pressure on the customer to make a split decision; do they need to buy it or don’t they?
While products may organically sell out or have legitimate limitations on supply, you have to be honest and consistent. If you announce to your customers that supplies of a particular product are limited and the next day you magically have plenty in stock, your audience is going to become suspicious.
Omission, misrepresentation, and all forms of deception are all ways to steer your customers to your competition. Inflating the qualities of a product or manipulating reviews might make you look good on the surface, but your customers weren’t born yesterday. Try to provide as much authentic information about your products as possible. You can even use genuine customer reviews to your benefit! In short, strive for complete transparency in your communications to customers.
One great way to enhance your reputation for honesty is to provide stellar customer service. When customers know a business has someone available to address complaints, they’re more likely to have more confidence in purchasing from that business.
Is it Okay to Reward Your Customers?
Playing favorites seems like a quick way to upset your customers. However, rewarding your most loyal customers isn’t playing favorites. Neither are things like offering great deals, mega-discounts, or even loyalty programs.
Yes, loyalty programs are completely ethical and a great way to improve your relationships with your customers. A 2018 Bond study found the vast majority of customers agree: loyalty programs are a significant part of building customer-brand relationships.
We know the importance of emotion in the buying process. When your customers feel appreciated or recognized for their loyalty, it helps build meaningful connections. Even membership in a loyalty club can be a boon; people want to belong.
Loyalty programs are very common. In fact, more than 90% of businesses have some sort of rewards system in place. Furthermore, more than half of all consumers spend more on brands to which they are loyal. The more you reward them for choosing you, the more they’ll choose you in the future!
Take a Stand
People have strong opinions. When a brand’s values and opinions align with those of the customer, the relationship is further strengthened. At the same time, some people even avoid doing business with brands whose views clash with their own.
As part of your transparent approach, your brand values should be clear to your audience. A culture of ethics starts at the top; your leadership should exude best practices and emphasize the importance of displaying these virtues to the public at all times. That means all those who represent the brand must be in alignment with these values at all times.
Ethical marketing also means being active in your community. If you exist solely to self-serve, your audience will quickly lose interest. More than 80% of millennials would support a brand that gives to charity over one that doesn’t. Look for ways to give back to social or environmental causes or consider supporting something of local interest; for example, sponsoring a youth sports team.
At the same time, be genuine in your support. Try to find a cause that aligns with your brand values. Causewashing, or jumping on a bandwagon cause to garner more sales, is unethical marketing and your customers will see right through it. Either don’t publicly support the cause or support it year-round.
Ethical Marketing is More Important Than Ever
Customers have more access to data than ever before. Through the simple use of search engines, people can uncover misleading information. Through social media, they can spread awareness of these false messages to a massive audience.
Therefore, it’s important to practice ethical marketing in everything you do. That means being transparent and honest in everything you do, from your brand story to your advertising. When it comes to marketing, before you do anything, ask yourself: “is this ethical?”