Building Trust in Business With Ethical Marketing Strategies

Published on September 11, 2023 by Frankie Brookton

The findings from our Brands with Purpose research have made it evident that ethics and sustainability are increasingly vital for marketers.

In today’s interconnected and socially conscious world, consumers not only expect high-quality products or services but also demand that businesses uphold ethical values. It has become imperative for companies to incorporate ethics into their marketing campaigns to establish trust, nurture long-term customer relationships, and contribute to positive social impact.

However, our research also reveals that many marketers face barriers when attempting to infuse purpose into their marketing efforts. For agencies, these obstacles are primarily related to budget constraints or a lack of internal knowledge and resources. On the other hand, in-house marketers often struggle because they don’t perceive ethics as a core aspect of marketing. This mindset needs to change. Given the significant environmental impact of marketing, it is time for marketers to take responsibility and initiate transformative changes.

If you find yourself unsure about how to become a more ethical marketer, don’t worry, we have some strategies to help you integrate purpose into your marketing.

Ethical Marketing Strategies for your Business: Building Trust & Impact

Transparency in Sourcing

Being transparent about the sourcing of materials and labour used in the production of goods or services is a critical element of ethical marketing. Marketers should allocate resources for sustainable and ethical initiatives and openly share this information with their audience.

By doing so, businesses demonstrate their dedication to fair trade practices, sustainable sourcing, and responsible supply chains. This transparency establishes trust with consumers who are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impact of their purchasing decisions. 

Our research suggests marketers are making leaps of progress on increasing transparency within their communications. We found 99% of in-house marketers refer to sustainable credentials, visions, or goals in their external marketing and communications and a massive 95% said these communications are aligned with the real actions of their companies – a large increase of 45% from just two years ago. Additionally, only 3% of agency marketers said they don’t communicate about sustainability in their marketing.

To enhance transparency, follow these steps:

  • Clearly communicate the origins of raw materials, emphasising fair trade, organic, or sustainably sourced elements.
  • Communicate about eco-friendly servers and websites you’re using. Show your commitment to reducing your digital footprint and supporting sustainable technology.
  • Share stories and images that shed light on the working conditions and fair treatment of employees in your supply chain. Showcase your business’ culture and commitment to responsible labour practices.
  • Consider obtaining certifications or labels that validate your ethical practices, such as Fairtrade, B Corp, SO 14001, EcoVadis rating, or Planet Mark.

Support Social Causes

Engaging in philanthropic endeavours and supporting social causes can have a significant positive impact on both society and a business’s reputation. Aligning marketing campaigns with specific social issues allows businesses to contribute to positive change while resonating with consumers who share similar values.

Nevertheless, it’s essential to avoid falling into the trap of performative ethics. Our research highlights a concerning trend where a significant portion of ethical investments (51%) is directed solely towards charity donations, resulting in a decline in other vital areas of investment, such as ED&I (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) initiatives and community-focused activities. While charity donations are undoubtedly beneficial, as businesses, we hold a broader responsibility to give back to both our community and the environment.

To ensure meaningful impact and authenticity in your efforts, consider the following actionable tips:

  • Embed sustainability and ethical initiatives into your workplace culture and operations. Communicate these efforts transparently to showcase your commitment.
  • Identify social causes that resonate with your brand’s values and mission – focus on initiatives that align with your core purpose.
  • Collaborate with nonprofit organisations and charities working in those areas to amplify your impact e.g., through pro-bono or reduced-rate work. 
  • Avoid falling into the trap of performative purpose by only donating to charities. Explore other avenues through which your business can make a tangible difference in addressing social and environmental challenges.
  • Use your marketing channels to proudly promote your support for social causes. Share stories and data that illustrate the tangible difference your business is making, reinforcing the authenticity of your initiatives.

Choose Ethical Partners

When incorporating ethical marketing strategies into your business, it is vital to extend your commitment to ethics through collaboration with ethical partners, be it suppliers or service providers. Selecting partners who share your values and uphold ethical standards not only enhances your brand’s integrity but also magnifies the impact of your marketing endeavours.

According to our research, most agencies acknowledge that there is only partial alignment between clients and agencies concerning their sustainability agenda, with 11% believing that no alignment exists at all. Communication, or the lack thereof, is frequently cited as the primary culprit behind this misalignment.

To ensure a successful partnership, consider key factors such as shared Values and Ethical Standards, responsible Supply Chain, diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), certifications and accreditations.

For example, we take pride in being a B Corp and serving as an ethical partner to numerous purpose-driven brands, including the renowned charity giant, Greenpeace UK. We openly communicate about our values and sustainability endeavours. For more information on our commitment to ethics, feel free to explore our website.

Consider the following key considerations when choosing a partner:

  • Perform an audit of your business practices to assess your current ethical standards and identify areas for improvement. Understanding your starting point will help you make more informed decisions.
  • Engage in extensive research to find partners who share your values and uphold ethical standards. Look for relevant certifications or accreditations that validate their commitment to ethics.
  • Make ethics and sustainability integral to your discussions with potential partners. Plan how you can incorporate your ethical goals into your collaborative efforts.
  • Prioritise partnerships with organisations that demonstrate a commitment to responsible supply chains, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Incorporating ethics into marketing strategies is no longer a matter of choice; it has become an essential requirement for businesses. Embracing transparent sourcing practices, promoting responsible consumption, and supporting social causes are crucial steps to build trust, foster loyalty, and enhance brand perception. By prioritising ethical marketing, companies can contribute to a better society while also reaping the rewards of a stronger reputation and sustainable success.

If you’d like to learn how Climbing Trees can support your business’ journey as your ethical partner drop us a message!

Brands With Purpose Report // Climbing Trees

Building Brands With Purpose Report

Discover tips on becoming a more sustainable business and stay updated on the latest trends among marketers in Brands with Purpose Report.