Ethical Marketing Policy
All marketing should provide genuine value to our target audience to earn their attention and trust. Our strategies are based on the foundational belief that marketing should be honest and that marketers should not take advantage of personal data. This policy states the ethical marketing practices we follow and our commitments to ensure that our marketing work meets or exceeds our industry’s ethical standards.
Our Commitment to Honest Marketing
As ethical marketers, we commit to complete honesty for our campaigns, customers, and partners.
We pledge to:
- Never use deceitful marketing tactics for our own or consumer marketing campaigns, including:
- False advertising – overemphasizing values and benefits of our products and/or services
- Fake or overly altered reviews and testimonials
- Overblown analytics or results when crafting messaging for partners or within advertising
- Never “cherry-pick” data points to use in marketing and communications that are not representative of the overall impact
- Not withhold unfavorable information or data from the public to protect a brand’s image
- Only use words and phrases that are realistic descriptions of the products or impact we are advertising
Ongoing Project-Based Reflections
The following questions are broached during a campaign strategy and implementation:
- Are we accurately communicating our product or service’s value without amplifying or deceiving our audience?
- Are we using language that fairly communicates the features and benefits of our products and services?
- Are we precisely quoting our customers, partners, and team when we share reviews or testimonials?
- Is our use of data and examples authentic and accurate when promoting our features, benefits, or the impact of our products and services?
- Is there internal pressure from team members, partners, or the leadership of our organization to communicate false information within our marketing and communications? If so, our process is to push back or disengage from the project.
Our Commitment to Rejecting Impact Washing or Greenwashing
Impact washing, social washing, and greenwashing are when a business exaggerates its impact to gain a marketing position or uses “feel good” marketing to camouflage or distract from adverse outcomes that their business model is having in other spaces — socially or environmentally.
Impact washing and greenwashing is an extensive topic that includes:
- Over-exaggerating impact by falsifying numbers, cherry-picking data, or centering on stories that are not typical of overall outcomes.
- Communicating fake promises or making impractical claims about anticipated results.
- Sharing stories or creating impact initiatives that are not rooted in an authentic mission or intention for good but purely for marketing benefits.
- Using a social impact activity to distract from unfavorable social or environmental issues caused by their fundamental processes, products, or services.
We commit that our campaigns:
- Are fully honest and clear about the social and environmental impacts of our products or operations.
- Review marketing and communications strategies and approaches to ensure that they are not engaging in impact-washing.
Our Commitment to Cultural Sensitivity in Campaign Creative
Many campaigns and messages have potential to be insensitive. It takes a combination of self-awareness and empathy of others in the creative process to avoid insensitive marketing campaigns.
Our Marketing Projects Will Refrain from the Savior Complex
Well-intentioned people will sometimes target a perceived need for help without including and empowering the impacted community. They may use their access to provide solutions solely from their external position of privilege. This tactic can be characterized as a savior complex, and the resulting communications, solutions, and power dynamics are often problematic and emphasize systems of oppression.
Dignity vs. Focusing on the Problem
We choose how to represent people. Commonly, people who have barriers in their lives are in the best people to remove those barriers. The process of dignification, profound understanding, and empowerment are the initial steps toward solving key social issues. It is also essential to recognize and understand the original systems in place that lead to the issue in the beginning. Any complex issue has numerous causes and multiple potential solutions. It is crucial to explore various perspectives and options for building campaigns targeted at promoting products or services as solutions to long-established concerns.
Using images of individuals in need, particularly stereotypical imagery, to elicit an emotional response and push engagement from the audience is precarious. This approach misrepresents or oversimplifies issues while dishonoring real people and communities that need support. It may be appealing to take this path, but it can quickly lead to insensitive campaigns and messages that may disempower the communities we strive to empower.
We commit to:
- Refraining from any exploitation, appropriation, or stereotyping of underrepresented or historically oppressed individuals or groups within content.
- Gain feedback on the appropriate nature and sensitivity of content. This will be different for different projects but often involves working with consumers to gain stakeholder feedback and engaging the target consumers via surveys, focus groups, or interviews.
- Continual internal training to increase awareness of cultural sensitivity and inclusiveness.
Our Commitment to Permission-Based Email Marketing
The term permission marketing describes marketing where the recipient of sales and marketing messages gives permission to send them sales and marketing materials. Another term to describe this is that they have opted-in to receiving sales and marketing messages.
We commit to target our email marketing on:
- Bringing value within any free content (including videos, blogs, online resources, online classes, social media posts, etc.)
- Being GDPR compliant and compliant with all state and local consumer protection regulations
- Maintaining the trust of email lists by continually offering value and restricting messaging to content relevant to the original opt-in intent
Our Commitment to Ethical Digital Advertising
All advertising content fits somewhere on the honesty spectrum — from manipulative and dishonest to accurate, ethical, and honest. We pledge to ensuring the integrity and ethics of the content we push through digital advertising.
Besides considering the accuracy and truthfulness of the content, we must also consider the ethics of the tactics used in targeting. Digital advertising brings its own special set of ethical challenges related to data privacy. Facebook, Google, Instagram, and many other digital media companies have developed sophisticated tracking technologies to profile and track target users online so that their advertisers can specifically reach their exact target audience when digitally advertising products and services. This type of precise targeting often comes at the cost of users’ privacy. As people’s attitudes and technologies change, the ethical considerations encompassing digital advertising are rapidly evolving. The line of what is legal and ethically acceptable will likely change several times over the next few years.
Our considerations include the following:
- False Advertising – If an advertisement makes false claims about a product or service or misrepresents what is being offered, it is false advertising, which is certainly an unethical marketing tactic.
- Issues with Advertorial Advertising – It is essential that an online user can decipher what is paid advertising versus what is editorial content. Advertorial content is messaging that looks like unbiased editorial/earned media but is actually paid advertising. This type of content can occur in articles, social media posts, reviews, or videos. Influencer marketing often depends on the process of well-connected social influencers promoting products or services to their audiences. Frequently, this is through content that would be seen as advertorial if the influencer is not clear that the content is a paid promotion. While some may see advertorial content as an ethical grey area, it is becoming increasingly common to deceive users into believing a brand mention is based on only editorial merit. In reality, the placement was paid for by the brand and is an unethical marketing ploy by both the publisher and brand buying the paid content. We should also mention that while we encourage employees to share their experiences with our company on social sites, we do not control or restrict this content.
- Pop-ups, Pop-unders, and Modal Windows — There are a wide range of pop-up style promotions that websites can employ. Pop-ups or pop-unders (windows or new tabs created behind the main browser page) are now generally considered unethical marketing tactics. They often offer false statistics about how many people see their content, and few users engage with this content. A modal window is a term for using similar tactics within your own website where the pop-up is part of the web page. Modal windows are commonly used for contact forms, email signups, downloads, and other strategies. When correctly implemented, modal windows can be helpful for the user and useful for marketing. However, if overused, they become annoying and can diminish the user’s experience. Here are some best practices for modal window usage:
- Leverage them in ways that offer clear value
- Limit how often they are used
- Make it easy to close them
Our Commitment to White Hat Search Engine Optimization
Search engines leverage algorithms to decide what content to show at the top of a search. These instances, where computers are making decisions that will affect business outcomes, opens opportunities for hacking and manipulation. In the realm of SEO and content marketing, any approaches that are considered manipulative or unethical are called “black hat” tactics. On the other end of this spectrum, are ethical or “white hat” SEO tactics founded on providing valuable and useful content that is relevant with what users and search was looking for.
We follow these best practices for White Hat SEO and content marketing:
- Link building – Provide valuable content that users will want to link to
- Using PR and like-minded partnerships to build links
- Appropriate use of redirects to support users find the correct content
- Creating useful, well-branded 404 pages with helpful navigation
- Put the user first, focus on value, and create content that fits our mission
Black Hat SEO tactics that we refrain from and discourage:
- Purchasing Links — Paid for links from other websites. Links should be built out of merit and from genuine relationships and partnerships.
- Automated Link Building — Using online bots or software to create links.
- Hidden Content and Links — Deliberately hiding content or links so only search engines can see them.
- Automated, Stolen, or Plagiarized Content Creation — Using content scraping technology, AI content development, or direct content theft to create high volumes of content to build your site’s size and perceived authority.
- Keywords Stuffing, Over-optimization — There is a fine line between manually optimizing content for SEO best practices (white hat on-page optimization) and over-optimization, also called keyword stuffing. It requires experience and a deep understanding of the most current algorithms to know where this line is. Over time, as the algorithms change, the line may move.
- Misdirection and Unethical Redirects — Cloaking and doorway pages. There are several shady redirection schemes leveraged in black hat SEO. These usually involve redirecting users away from long-form content into pages more specific on conversions/sales, affiliate marketing, or paid advertising. In these instances, the content that attracted the search engine algorithm, which gained high organic ranking, is not what the user sees after clicking the link.
Our Commitment to Update These Practices as The Industry Evolves
We expect ethical marketing practices to continue evolving alongside the technologies marketers leverage to discover, reach, and engage target audiences. The line separating ethical from unethical practices can shift quickly as major platforms like Google, Facebook, and other search and social applications launch updates and new options for data-driven targeting. We will continue monitoring the state of the field across different marketing channels and tactics and update our practices accordingly.
Questions and Feedback
We strive to do the right thing for our consumers and adhering to these ethical practices is of the utmost importance. If you have any questions or feedback, we encourage you to reach out. Please contact us using the website contact form below for:
- Requesting more information
- Providing feedback
- Requesting to access, edit, or delete personal information we may have about you
- Registering a complaint