Are you turned off by a lot of marketing tactics?
You know that effective marketing and sales tactics can be powerful tools for growing you business, but you also sense that some of these tactics can be pushy, manipulative, or even downright unethical. So, can marketing ever be ethical? And if so, how can you build a business that is both successful and authentic?
In this week’s episode, we explore…
• The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of marketing
• How to balance the need for growth with the desire for integrity
• Practical tips and strategies for building a business that feels good for you and your clients
Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or a business owner just starting out, this episode will challenge you to think more deeply about the ethics of marketing and how you can build a successful, authentic, and ethical business.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
The Outsiders Business Academy – A self-paced course for you to work through in your own time, to learn – and implement – the foundations of building a profitable business that lets you escape the 9 to 5. onestepoutside.com/course
Hello there, I can’t wait to get stuck on the topic today because we’re talking about ethical marketing. And I’ve had this topic on my list for quite some time. And when I started to prepare this session today, I got very much into it. And I’ve written all sorts of notes. So I’ve got so much to say on this topic. I know, it’s something that a couple of you have been asking me about. It’s something I hear again and again, or it feels so sleazy, I don’t want to be selling and selling and marketing are two different things. But you know, that’s sort of part of the conversation. I just don’t really like what these gurus are recommending, and I don’t want to follow it. But what is the alternative, right, we’re feeling overwhelmed, and icky and burned out and put off by all these marketing tactics.
Even if we wanted to try to follow them all, it’s quite overwhelming.
And most of us actually don’t want to, we don’t like being manipulated in that way ourselves. And we certainly don’t want to do it for our clients. And I think if you’re listening to this podcast, if you’re part of my community, then you share those values. You want to work with people who share your values, and you don’t want to be doing things that don’t sit well with you that aren’t in your integrity. So, deep breath, before I launch into this, it is possible to market attract clients profitably with integrity. And I’ll give you a hint already, I’ll give you the bottom line, which is don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable with, don’t feel you should have to do anything. Don’t feel that you absolutely must copy this because otherwise your business is going to flop right. Certainly if you if your heart isn’t in it, you’re probably not going to do it, like these kinds of gurus are telling you anyway. And so it’s not going to get the results.
So you’re just going to be a sort of double failure of doing something icky, you don’t want to do and on top, you’re not going to get the results you’re hoping for.
So the good news is you can absolutely market effectively. It’s a slower game, perhaps it’s you know, for me, it’s a lot about content and creating value and having human relationships and so on. It’s investing in the long term. But since we are here for the long term, hopefully with the business and with our lives, then that’s no problem. That’s a good thing. Right? So we’re not just in it for the quick buck, quick sales today, and not worrying about the repercussions tomorrow, right? We’re here for the long term, we’re building a sustainable business that is aligned with our values. A quick shout out to a couple of people who I don’t follow as much as I’d love to but but they have been sort of in my sphere, I guess sort of, certainly on my periphery. And I’ve always kept a little bit of an eye on them, and I recommend them to people. So tad Hargraves, Tad Hargraves has a company called Marketing for hippies, which you know, I’m certainly jealous of the name. I love it. He looks pretty much the part and but he’s got a great staff starter kit, I think he calls it which is free around how to market effectively, but ethically. So tad Hargraves marketing for hippies, and George cow ke O, has authentic advice for soulful entrepreneurs, as he calls it, he’s got this lovely soothing voice, really thoughtful content around ethical and authentic marketing. So do check those two people out tad Hargraves and George cow ke O, if you’re interested in learning more, it’s certainly part of my approach. But these two men are really, you know, at the forefront of this, and it’s the core of their offering.
So a few things right, when it comes to can marketing be ethical? The answer is yes. But let’s look at the different dimensions.
And let’s look at the why, what, who and how. So, first of all, and I think this is the key one, it’s why your marketing. And I think this is really how you judge if something is ethical or not when it comes to your marketing. So your intent, is your intent to scam someone to sell a lemon as I guess they call them in that sort of the cart sales terms. Or as a melon, as my daughter would say, is it to scam someone to sell them something they don’t need just make that quick buck to make as much money as possible? Or is it to genuinely help someone? And that seems like an obvious question. And again, I can only assume and I know that you are in the latter camp, right.
So that again should reassure you that if you’re marketing with the intent to reach more people with your message, help more people bring more value, then you’re already coming at this from the right place. And that’s already if not going to guarantee at least going to lay the foundations for an ethical marketing practice. So why your marketing right ask yourself what your intent is on that sales call. Are you just there to push your program are you there to genuinely find out who this person is what they’re struggling with and if and whether and how you might be able to help so the why your marketing is super important. Next what your marketing again, pretty obvious and the classic example is maybe cigarettes if you’re marketing something, arms, weapons, I don’t know that’s obvious. Nestle unethical illegal, whatever it is drugs, for goodness sake pharmaceuticals, let’s not get in there and into that, then, you know, that’s doesn’t matter if you use lots of authentic marketing practices and you probably won’t, because the thing your marketing is harmful to the person using it to society and so on right? Versus are you marketing a service that you genuinely believe can help, you have proven results, you’re passionate about this, you’ve gone through this transformation yourself, you’ve helped other people, you’ve learned how to do it, that’s a very different place again. So if you’re marketing, a product or service that you genuinely believe in that genuinely can help people, again, a good foundation for ethical marketing, who you’re marketing to, obvious example, to children, I think, you know, there was a big thing A while ago, probably a long time ago, but certainly after my childhood, when we’re not allowed to market, you know, cereals with fun cartoon characters, and so on, and certain toys and things to children that’s deemed unethical to the vulnerable to people who can’t afford what you’re offering or wouldn’t actually benefit, right?
You’re just trying to force it on to any person, any person who gets onto my sales call go, yeah, definitely, you should do this program, even though actually, I don’t believe I can help them. And that’s really difficult. Because if you’re coming at this from a place of scarcity, meaning I need clients and I really want this sale, then you kind of come to that call wanting to get the client at any cost, and it’s maybe subconscious. But there is that kind of urgency to, to wanting to grab that client and grab isn’t is already telling you that it’s the wrong intention there. So the why your marketing, your intent, the watch your marketing, the product service, and the who you’re marketing to someone who needs what you’re offering can afford, it will benefit from it right. Now, the one I have the biggest chunk, a long list in particular of unethical things that are a bit more nuanced, as in the how. So when it comes to and I’m sure you’ve experienced some of these tactics, the end, this is quite subjective. So this is my view on what’s ethical or not, right, and ethics are quite personal, but relative to your faith rated to your own individual life experience. We were watching, gosh, I always give these really lowbrow TV references Outer Banks, I think we’re on series three, anyone else watching that? We love this, my partner, Luke loves these kinds of coming of age things. And it’s quite exciting. But a thriller. They’re searching Eldorado right now, anyway, recommendation for some light entertainment. But there’s this guy in the third series, who turns out to been around the whole time. And he’s just so confident and arrogant and self righteous. And he’s, you know, happy to kill people and force people into getting what he wants to say one, right. So I think I was genuinely thinking he must have grown up in a difficult environment. A
nd he’s learned that’s the only way to get ahead. And so and I’m laughing, but you know, it’s quite tragic if it’s a real thing. But those of us who’ve grown up in perhaps a sort of a slightly different society, where I have generally not broken the law. And you know, I’m a very good girl, then that just seems so far removed, we used to do an anti corruption training in my corporate days. And I found it so ridiculously wasteful of my time, because of course, I wouldn’t be corrupt. But it turned out that in some parts of the world, you know, there were things like, you know, paying the customs officials to get your products through and so on. And that was just a no go for this Cincinnati based company, which was good. Anyway, enough of that little interlude. And Outer Banks is the series. So within marketing, there’s this idea of psychological manipulation, which I think we find really difficult. And it is tricky. And that’s very subjective.
Because where do you draw the line between really effective, impactful copywriting and tricking people, and I think there’s that gray area, you know, there are some obvious lies and false claims, but then there’s the kind of using psychological tactics, you may have heard that, you know, social media, that user experience design is explicitly or implicitly, not even sure which word would be correct in that particular phrase, but is, specifically, let’s say, designed to make you addicted to it right to, to want to have that little notification and to click to see who’s liked your content, and all the colors and the whole experience is designed to manipulate you now is that unethical? You know, gray area, maybe, maybe not, if it’s just getting you to sort of follow and watch funny videos, but certainly within politics and these kind of bubbles and things where we’re maybe being manipulated into believing things that aren’t true and so on. And that gets that certainly more, more obviously unethical. So psychological manipulation, not ethical, when it’s not based on consent, you know, that are so painful adding us to email lists or selling or buying our data, which by the way, is also illegal, certainly in the EU with GDPR is the legal convention, and you have opted in to get emails and I get so many things, and then they say, oh, asked me, and if you don’t want to hear from me again, let me know. Like, no, no, I don’t want to hear from you. I shouldn’t have to let you know the assumption should be, I don’t want to hear from you. So it needs to be opt in consensual consent based, high pressure sales tactics.
When there’s fake scarcity. There’s that kind of countdown timer for urgency. We only got space for 100 people, no you don’t you can have, you know, most likely you can have more people on your zoom or whatever, you know, you know, I will post taking on a new client this month or something.
And that’s genuinely because one client has finished working with me and or I have extra space for that client. It’s not Oh, my gosh, I can only work with one person this month. And it’s it’s sort of trying to pretend that I’ve only got that one thing. No, it’s a genuine, hey, I’ve got space for another client right now. So again, it goes back to the retention intent. So lying about, you know, the capacity. This is only 24 hours and there’s that countdown timer, but actually that offers available to anybody who clicks on that site that own the bugbear which was really popular before and I think it’s still around but but not particularly appealing. You offer a free webinar that ends up not giving you any value at all, it doesn’t teach you anything, it’s only designed to manipulate you into buying the product at the end, right? And one of them someone in my community. Martina Hello, that Martina, if you’re listening, and was talking about this idea of you know, a lot of people recommend that you just sell your offer before it exists. Which, you know, is feels feels quite uncomfortable to I think all of us and I certainly did I remember when I was going to market my first ever group program in 2018. You know, that device didn’t sit very well with me. And there’s no way I could have sold that program like a six month program. I think it was at the time what’s now my business incubator without having any content. Now, just to make this nuanced as well, I do recommend not, or I don’t recommend creating every single piece of content and perfect design videos pre recorded course etc. before selling it because you don’t even know if somebody wants it yet, right. So unless people have actually raised their hand and said yes, they want it.
However, definitely, you do want to have at least the framework, the outline, knowing exactly what the module is going to be I had pre recorded at least the first couple of months. And and so you know that you have something great that you’re offering, right? Those funnels with free PDFs that don’t actually help you, you know, get like 100 page PDF that feels really valuable. But of course, you’re never going to read that PDF and reading a PDF, let’s face it, it’s not going to actually move the needle on your business or your life, whatever. There are these trip wires, which literally get you to trip over them planes, bait and switch advertising a low price offering to attract you and then you’re persuaded to buy a different kind of high ticket offer. My pet peeve is when people on their sales pages have these like 3000 gazillion bonuses of this one’s worth $997. And this is worth 3997. But they’ve never been sold, right. I mean, I could certainly say Oh, well, I mean, of course I could say a call with me is worth this value, or whatever it is. But it’s very hard to put a value on all join our private Facebook community. And that’s worth $1,000. You know, so I’ve actually never used that particular one. But I see it again and again, on people’s sites. And you know, certainly initially, I found it quite convincing.
The truth is, again, you’re just getting this massive amounts of content that you’re not going to get any value from, you’ll get overwhelmed and so on. More generally over promising, guaranteeing results, six figures in six weeks, you know, obviously, if you have a guarantee results or your money back, that’s great, but then you have to actually stand by that. So if they don’t get results, you need to make it easy for them to get their money back. But over promising and under delivering basically. Oh, a little specific one. But it’s happened again, again, not so much in my group, actually. But when you’re selling your own services, and another experts Facebook group, now a lot of people have those threads where they say, Hey, Monday, you know, promote yourself day. And that’s really nice. And that’s one of the reasons why people are in that group. My group is more like a community where we’re sharing, obviously, I’m marketing my services, because that’s why I’m running it as a free group. But it’s luckily it hasn’t been so much of people spamming and so on, and I’m happy to have I had someone recently who said, oops, I didn’t realize you were sort of marketing something similar to me, you can kick me out the group if you want, but I’m fine with that, you know, again, it’s the sort of mindset of abundance rather than scarcity. And so those are a few of the unethical practices. Now, I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve seen other things other things that you find uncomfortable if you want to ask me what do you think of this particular tactic? podcast at one step outside.com. Or you can contact me on any social Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, wherever you want to wherever you’re active. I’m gonna get more positive.
Now what can we do? See, I told you I had a lot to say we’re already 50 minutes in so a few more minutes on on how you can market ethically and it really does come down to that intent. So you’re, you’re coming at it based on honesty, trust, a genuine willingness to want to help right, focusing on a human being in front of you and how you can help rather than the number of followers the number of people on your webinar the lead To the email list, you know, I can be frustrated that I’ve only got X number of people on my email list. But that’s amazing to have 100 people, 200 people, 2000 people, even 10 people on your webinar, three people, each of those people is taking their time, they’re trusting you, they’re showing up. So my goodness, give them the incredible value. And don’t they only got 75 people, Minister only got 3000 people, whatever, wherever you are, you know, it’s the person behind it. So I think that’s the main intent.
You’re growing your audience and reach not because I’ve got to grow my reach, I’ve got to grow my reach. But because I want to reach people with more, you know, with my message and help more people. And one of the things that I think I saw from George cow, just as I was looking at their websites to recommend them to you was actually separating content from sales, ie, genuine value, add content. So I talked about my three eyes model in my academy, and course, say you’re wanting to inspire people, you’re wondering to instruct them, teach them and then you want to invite them and inspire and instruct, you’re genuinely sharing with no ulterior motive, you’re sharing that because you want to share your big message.
This is why believe reimagining success is so important. And here are the five pillars of building your life and business outside the nine to five, here’s how you can market ethically right?
I’m sharing this content genuinely, because I think it’s an important topic, and you’ve asked me about it several of you. And it was interesting for me to reflect on as well. Of course, I would love it. If you listen and think Wow, I love what Anna’s saying, and I’ve been following her for a while. And I really want to work on my branding and business model and so on with her, that would be amazing. But I can’t come at this topic. And at this free podcast, with a sense of entitlement that creating all this value is going to get me lots of clients, right, I’m coming at it from a genuine place of helping. And then hopefully, that value, that content will establish my credibility, build trust, and in the long term that’s going to influence and impact my business or my business. So that’s content specifically then for sales calls, they are then separate events, right? So I might have the free podcast. And and obviously I have calls to action at the end. I run workshops, sometimes free sometimes paid in the in the Facebook group or on Zoom.
But it’s there’s a clear line between, hey, I’m actually genuinely sharing value here, or hey, this is how you can work with me, there are two different things. So sales calls are one specific way to to invite people to work with you, right. And again, I think I mentioned this before, you’re not just pushing your program not saying Right, everybody has to join my business incubator or bust. It’s a genuine conversation, trying to understand the other person’s needs their situation, whether or not and also financial situation, by the way, always want to understand where they’re at, because I’ve been burned by that before, it’s not that you’re making an assumption as to whether or not they can afford it. But if someone is in a desperate situation, they probably shouldn’t be investing in my long term brand building support, right? Because they need something right now. And they don’t want to get further into debt. So you’re genuinely trying to understand how you can help them if you can help them. And then you can I do recommend free content or recommend someone else if you’re not the right person for them.
And what we’re talking about is deepening your connection with your audience, right? You’re already investing in these relationships, I’ve got people and I love you, I say thank you, you know who you are, who had been in my community for so long, and some of your work me, some of you haven’t. And that’s okay, in the sense of actually paying me. We’re deepening these connections, I know that some of you very kindly have recommended me to other people, you’re willing to write reviews on the podcast or the book, you show up. And hopefully I’m playing at least a small part in your journey, even if we’re not working in a paid program together. And that means a lot for me personally, and for the business, I think so you’re investing in the long term. And it’s slower, yes, but it is arguably much more powerful. So again, the bottom line is to be yourself, to show up with that genuine intention to help and ultimately not do anything that you yourself would feel uncomfortable with either on the receiving end or on the giving end, right? So don’t just go Oh, yeah, I’ve got to have a trip. Why? And I’ve got to do this webinar on what’s the exact template that someone’s going to give me for the emails for the webinar structure, to manipulate people into buying brainwashing them, indoctrinating them, I think is the word they even use. Now, that’s not to say caveat here, that we shouldn’t be learning how to write effective copy or working with copywriters or structuring webinars effectively, and so on.
But there’s a lot of transparency. I like to say at the beginning of a workshop, by the way, you know, I’ll be sharing certainly, if it’s free, how you can work with me in a paid capacity and obviously no obligation and so on. In the sales call. I’ll say I’d love to understand a bit more about you. You can ask me questions and then we can decide if it’s a fit and if so, which program would be best for you?
So it’s not just hey, just want to have a conversation and then boom, you try to slam some kind of sales pitch pitch on to them. It’s really based on consent as well. So I hope that was valuable to you do let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking on this one, whether you’ve come across something icky, or you’re struggling with some particular dilemma, I’d love to have you share with me so again, any social Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, wherever you’re active, or you can email me at podcast at one step insider COMM And I’d love to hear your thoughts. And of course if you found this episode valuable, I’d love for you to share it with other people too. I think you know that we can we can have this growing movement of people who believe that it is possible to market ethically and and we can help each other as well give each other pointers of what works, what, what feels good to us what doesn’t and so on. Right and ultimately, it’s a very personal choice. But thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now
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