Should my ethics be the focus of my marketing?

Should my ethics be the focus of my marketing?

Social enterprises and ethical brands work hard to make sure their impact is as positive as possible.

Having strong ethical and environmental credentials in business is something to be proud of and gives you a great story to tell – but should it be the focus of your marketing efforts?

As a marketing strategist in the impact space, this is probably the question I get asked the most.

On one hand, successful marketing is all about connection and trust – and what better way to connect with people than uniting to support a good cause?

When you’ve got the credentials and proof to back your impact up, you can cut through the ‘greenwashing’ and stand out from a crowd of brands paying lip service to their CSR or pretending to be more environmentally friendly or ethical than they really are.

But on the other hand research suggests that while consumers would like brands to be socially responsible, quality, price and convenience are still the main driving factors behind most purchasing decisions – leaving us with an attitude-behaviour gap often referred to as the ‘Ethical Consumption Gap’.

66% of global consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, but by the year 2000 ethical products had only gained a 5% market share in the UK.

We are seeing the ethical space grow rapidly in public awareness, especially as movements like plastic free go mainstream, but we can expect consumer behaviour to take a while to catch up.

So where does that leave your marketing strategy?

The answer is not a straightforward matter of one or the other.

Firstly, you have to find your Product Market Fit to make sure you can compete on quality and that your product or service solves a genuine problem – otherwise nobody will want to buy it.

Next you need to identify your ideal customer. Who has the problem that you’re trying to solve? Where will you find them? And how will you connect with them?

That’s where your ethical credentials come in.

Your impact story can be a huge competitive advantage to differentiate yourself in the market, once you’ve got the foundations right.

When you understand the market you operate in, you can make sure your product or service meets the ‘minimum requirements’ and then build a sales funnel around your credentials.

Understanding how people buy is essential. People don’t buy products or services – they buy solutions to their problems. And they only buy from people they know, like and trust (62% of consumers say brand trust is the most important sustainability factor) – which is why if the price and quality are competitive, they’re more likely to buy from a brand that aligns with their own values.

When you’ve got a strong impact story and the right strategy, your ethical credentials can be the best marketing tool for your brand – but they can’t be the only marketing tool.

That’s why, when I work with my clients on their marketing strategy, we start by understanding the wider market for their product or service and getting into the mindset of their ideal customer. From there we can tell a compelling story and build a high converting sales funnel that builds connections and gets results.

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