Ethical Advertising: Balancing Profit and Responsibility


Maintaining an ethical approach to advertising is key if you work in marketing. Ethical branding shows that you care about the needs of your audience and take your social responsibility seriously.

Utilizing shady marketing techniques -- like manipulative pricing and false claims -- can land you in hot legal water and damage your reputation, too. This is a serious issue if you are marketing a growing brand and are trying to capture a share of the target market for yourself. Folks will turn their back on brands that exploit their data and use manipulative marketing tactics.

Conversely, ethically minded audiences will show greater loyalty toward firms that use recycled paper, protect their personal data, and ask for consent before pushing personalized PPC campaigns. This can help you craft a niche as a people-first brand and is sure to pay dividends in the months and years to come.

Launching Products

It's tempting to do everything you can to push your product or service shortly before a launch date. Your managers will be keen to break even as quickly as possible and expect the marketing department to draw as many consumers as possible to the launch date.

However, while engaging in unethical marketing may increase your short-term exposure, it's almost certain to backfire in the long term. Folks will turn away from your business if they learn you've been buying dubious personal data online and are certain to pivot to competitors if you try to use underhand methods like making false claims based on half-truths.

Rather than using last-minute unscrupulous, last-minute methods to raise interest in a new product or service, get ahead of the competition by using ethical marketing approaches while planning your product launch. This may include taking steps like:

  • Using primary data to identify your target audience, such as surveys, customer questionnaires, or feedback forms;
  • Prepare your sales team so they're trained to use ethical sales pitches and soft-sells over hard pitches and half-truths when selling your new product;
  • Provide plenty of resources to prospective customers so they are well-informed before making a purchase;
  • Follow up after the launch to improve customer care and ensure folks are happy with your product or service.

These steps minimize your risk of falling foul of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations and ethics. By largely relying on internally collected primary data, you minimize your risk of accidentally buying unethically sourced data, too. This is key, as modern consumers are aware of their data protection rights and will turn away from firms found to be buying data from dubious sources.

Protecting Consumer Data

Any data that you collect must be properly protected. Without an adequate data protection plan, you risk exposing consumer's personal data and may be targeted by malicious actors who are looking for easy ways to steal valuable data. This will degrade trust in your brand and undermine your ethical responsibilities.

You can take preliminary steps to protect consumer data by investing in threat intelligence systems. Effective threat intelligence can give you early notice when something goes wrong or your systems are compromised. This empowers your cybersecurity team and increases the efficacy of business continuity efforts.

Protecting the consumer data you collect means you'll need to re-educate staff to understand the risk of ransomware. Ransomware is advancing at a fast rate, meaning that your team must be able to recognize potential threats like phishing scams. This will improve your firm's cyber hygiene and minimize the risk of a breach due to internal sloppiness.

Promoting Ethical Values

While it's easy to overlook your social responsibilities, there's no doubt that marketing has an impact on the way consumers think and feel. This means you should think twice before pushing out a campaign that is intentionally divisive or designed to elicit ill will from consumers in order to raise interest.

Understanding your social and ethical obligations is particularly important if you plan on using visual storytelling to craft your next campaign. Visual storytelling is a powerful form of marketing that relies on evoking strong emotions in potential customers. For example, if you are producing a series of posts for social media to promote a new product, consider whether or not your current plan uses:

  • Harmful stereotypes;
  • Damaging or inflammatory rhetoric;
  • Adequate representation of traditionally marginalized communities;
  • Greenwashing.

If your current plan inadvertently disparages a demographic or relies on outdated stereotypes, ensure you revise your messaging. This is particularly important today, as the degradation of public discourse means that you may actually see an uptick in profitability by appealing to people's base emotions. However, this uptick in traffic should be weighed against your ethical responsibility as a business. Rather than risking damaging your brand and harming a marginalized group, conduct marketing that:

  • Works with folks from a range of backgrounds;
  • Is rooted in fact, rather than half-truths that make your business look good;
  • Is genuinely sustainable and supports environmental protection efforts.

Ethical marketing is crucial for the long-term viability of your business. Failing to take your ethical responsibilities seriously will damage your brand image and result in a loss of profits in the long term. Promoting ethical advertising may actually help you win more customers, too, as modern consumers appreciate brands that are sustainable and socially responsible.

by Steve Hall    Jul- 3-24   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion