Ethical Marketing Practices for your Small Business

Ethical marketing practices should be non-negotiable for all businesses but it’s extremely important for small businesses. Since small business owners live and work in the community they serve, they often interact directly with their customers.

Aside from being common courtesy, ethical practices help you build trust with your audience, encourage a positive view of your company, and ensure that you can be proud of your success.
For small businesses, here are some practices that we think should always be followed.

Ethical Marketing for Email

Remember the value of your email lists

Building your email list is an important part of marketing your business. It allows you to reach out directly to your customers and can even help you build custom audiences when you’re doing Facebook advertisements.

If someone gave you their email address, treat it well! There’s nothing people hate more than being bombarded with emails. Don’t give it out to other companies, don’t spam, and always make sure people can opt-out of your emails. Sure, you may hate the idea of someone opting-out but not providing the option will give you more negative PR than its worth.

Ethical Marketing - Don't over-promise

Don’t over-promise

A lot of people seem to think that marketing is all about putting a positive ‘spin’ on things but sometimes that spins out of control. You want to be honest with your audience. People can tell when you over-promise and those people can then share their dissatisfaction to their entire social media network. Word moves quickly these days and you certainly don’t want to be a part of a negative viral campaign.

That old adage about all publicity being good publicity just isn’t true. Especially when you’re a small business. Trust with your customers is paramount.

Make sure your content is accurate

Photoshop Island

Did you see this photo on Facebook? It’s photoshopped!

Sometimes you can find a great article online that relates to your business and you want to make sure you share it with your audience. The problem is that not every article you find online is from a trustworthy source. Do your research before you share.

Keep in mind that this applies to photos and videos too. There’s a time and a place for photoshop and filters. With the introduction of deep fake videos, there are also some really convincing videos out there that are completely fabricated. Make sure you know what you’re sharing.

Ethical marketing - give photo credit

Give credit where credit is due

If the photo or video you’re sharing wasn’t taken by you, make sure you give credit to the author. For example, maybe you’re a wedding venue and you see that your venue is tagged on Instagram in a gorgeous photo. If you share it without giving credit to the photographer, you’ve snubbed another small business owner or violated the trust of one of your customers. They may have shared their photo publicly, but that doesn’t mean they gave consent for you to share it.

Giving credit (and asking for permission) can also help you network with others on social media. For more information on when you should give credit, read our blog.

Ethical Marketing for Employees

Don’t forget about your employees

Of course, ethical marketing isn’t just about building trust with your customers. Small business owners also have a more direct connection to their employees. Someone who works at Amazon may never meet Jeff Bezos, but you might see your employees every day.

Make sure you’re taking care of your employees. Not only will that improve the service they give to your customers, but they can be some of the best marketers for your business. They live in the same community you serve. Remember that everyone has a network (especially with social media) and what they share about your business can make a big difference.

While there may be more ethical marketing practices out there, the above will help make sure your small business is connected to your community in a positive way.

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