Businesses who endorse and practice ethical marketing create a strong reputation of social responsibility and cultural sensitivity. This is often looked upon favourably by clients and prospective clients, and may even be the deciding factor in their decision to buy from one business over another.
As such, ethical marketing isn’t just a moral and legal necessity; it also makes good business sense.
What is Ethical Marketing?
Ethical marketing is simply the process of applying ethics to your marketing campaigns and strategies.
Ethical marketing practices should be engrained into business processes and campaign strategies. They should not be employed by companies in a way that is overly promotional in an attempt to make the company seem responsible, as this makes consumers less trusting and more suspicious of ethical claims. Many top brands have suffered consumer boycotts due to this behaviour.
The following are some examples of behaviour and conduct that should be considered from an ethical standpoint.
- Misleading & Deceptive Conduct: When promoting your products or services, you need to ensure that any branding, statement or quote is not false or misleading.
- Competitions: Competitions, lotteries and promotions that offer a prize over a certain amount are regulated by each state and territory. Depending on the competition and the prize you offer, you may require a permit.
- Direct Marketing: Most direct marketing activities are regulated by federal or state laws, so it is vital to ensure you comply with privacy legislation and spam regulations before proceeding with any campaign.
- Email Marketing: Before you send out any email marketing material, you must ensure you comply with the Spam Act 2003, which states that it is illegal to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages without consent.
- Privacy: Extreme care must be taken when you collect, use, secure and disclose a customer’s personal information to ensure you comply with the Privacy Act.
- Pricing: When you price your products or services, you need to comply with pricing regulations and display the price clearly and accurately.
- Personal Ethics: Everyone has different ethics, which affect how a company is run. Certain companies may not want to use tactics to sell to children or promote gambling and many people will not work for a that they deem to be unethical. While B2B marketing may not make us feel like we’re positively contributing to society, we can still stand by our personal ethics.
The Challenges of Monitoring Ethics in B2B Marketing
The B2B sales process is vastly different from B2C. In general, B2B sales processes have fewer controls than B2C, which makes ethical practices more difficult to monitor. This is due to a number of reasons:
- B2B sales tend to be more personal and relationship based, and often the seller will adapt sales processes in order to suit the specifics of the business, or individual they are selling to.
- B2B sales are typically more expensive and more complex, so the entire marketing mix is often tailored to suit the individual buyer.
- With B2B purchases, pricing is most often not set, but rather negotiated between the buyer and seller.
- Communication about the product and pricing is mostly verbal, taking place mainly through informal or formal presentations and discussions.
While the B2B sales process is more difficult to monitor and control, there are certain steps that B2B businesses can take in order to ensure their practices remain ethical across every employee and division.
Developing an Ethical B2B Marketing Plan
The foundation of any successful business is based on three principal elements – commitment, trust and integrity. This is particularly prevalent for businesses in the B2B sector, where decisions are highly considered and often relationship driven.
In order to maintain commitment, trust and integrity, ethical business practices should be applied at all times, and in every touch point between businesses.
- Consider Stakeholders: B2B organisations should always consider each & every stakeholder and supplier in their dealings. It is vital to involve these parties in any decisions that may affect the relationship or the generation of profit for either party.
- Be Honest: Every employee in the business should be honest at all times when it comes to the business dealings that they are involved in. Any promises that are made should always be kept.
- Remain Transparent: Businesses should maintain transparency with clients in order to increase their credibility. This applies to the documentation of work as well as monetary transactions.
- Open Communication: It is important to communicate all aspects of business dealings in advance before making a work agreement. The work agreement, can then be put in place with the input and consent of all involved companies.
If your business is perceived to lack of business ethics, you are likely to lose credibility, which can result in lost clients. As such, ethical marketing is a vital part of the overall strategy of any B2B business, in order to maintain brand image and reputation, as well as a strong client base. Talk to the Lead Agency for more information.