Why does choosing ethical marketing matter?

A big question mark

Your choice of marketing strategies and tactics matters. It’s about much more than what kind of Ads to run. Like it or not, your marketing speaks volumes, not just about what you’re selling, but about you: your values, your principles, how you see the world and engage with it, your brand.

The easy route would be to take the well-trodden path and try to ‘out-advertise’ the competition: read the latest marketing tactics book, attend a few high-pressure webinars, watch a few YouTube videos, and set up some cleverly-worded Facebook Ads and ‘squeeze pages’ to manipulate people into buying your product or service.

And the win-at-all-costs approach is designed to sound tempting. After all, there’s a lot of money to be made in telling you that this stuff works and selling you the ‘magic beans’ that will make it work for you. Some of the inflated promises I have seen online for these kinds of methods would seem farcical if I wrote them down here!

The problem is that this kind of ego-driven, bulldozer marketing is what got us where we are today. Desperately manipulating each other as we hurtle towards catastrophe (environmental and otherwise).

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the world needs us to change what we’re doing. The cycle of overconsumption, planetary destruction, and oppression of people is not sustainable.

In marketing, Alice Karolina of The Ethical Move summarised it perfectly in one of her blog posts:

“By placing shame, fear, and fake needs into our minds every second of every day, psychological tactics are made to bypass our decision-making process — using our brains against us to make a profit.”

So, let’s be different. Let’s market ethically and make a difference to the world.

If that ‘make a difference’ sounds scary and big, that’s because it is. But if we don’t change, who will? We can’t keep waiting for everyone else to go first…

Some of us are able to change, and it’s up to us to do so for those who can’t (yet). I’m not interested in judging who can and who can’t – I want to show a pathway to change that people can take when they’re ready.

When we choose to make ethical choices in the way we live our lives and run our businesses, the large-scale change that the world needs becomes easier for everyone.

The process is cumulative and every action, every decision counts.

That said, I am fully aware I write this from a very privileged position, and that change is easier for me than it is for many others. I also believe there are many people like me (perhaps even you!) who are willing and able to make a change, large or small.

A simple shift in the way we, as personal brands, show up in the world, talk about what we do and attract clients is part of the change that’s needed. We’re not trying to solve all the world’s problems here but we can make a positive difference.

I don’t want to preach about change, just to impress upon the people who are in a position to change that by doing so they can make a difference. It’s worth doing because that difference leads to more people making their own changes. And so the network effect grows.

Having worked in marketing for almost 20 years, I know how easy it is to throw money at Google, Facebook and the rest and hope that their ‘magic machine’ will produce the promised customers.

It’s not that this approach doesn’t work, just that it maintains the world we have and that isn’t sustainable. The tide is turning and we have an amazing opportunity to create a new and better way, leading by example.

“Be the change you want to see in the world,” may have become a near-cliché but it is how this works. Let me put it this way: if you can choose to be ethical in your business and your marketing then why wouldn’t you be?

I’ve written a book about how you can choose to do ethical marketing, it’s called Reframing Marketing: A 3-step plan for effective and ethical marketing. Whether you can make changes to how you market from now on, or make a plan for when you can, this is going to be an exciting journey.