What is Ethical Marketing?

What is Ethical Marketing?

Unlike Email marketing, content marketing, or social media marketing ethical marketing is not a specific system.

If anything it is a general approach to the work we do. A philosophy that underpins all the marketing activities we undertake at Client Magnet.

Because of this it is extremely difficult to describe our marketing ethics in a simple and concrete way. But I’m certainly going to try.

Let’s start by looking at the wider marketing world.

How Ethical is the Wider Marketing World?

Most people split marketing down into those types of activities that are not strictly ethical or honest. These are often know as “Black Hat” marketing tactics.  The rest they refer to as “White Hat”.  Here at Client Magnet we go a step further. We’d claim that there are a lot of people wandering around wearing hats that are fairly clearly grey, even if they claim they are white.

It isn’t enough to just not be part of the unethical brigade. We need to be leading the field when it comes to ethics in marketing.

That’s a nice catchy line, but if our actions don’t match then it is just words on a screen. Thankfully they do.


Over the years marketing has had a bad rap. At worst it uses blatant lies, at best it stretches the truth in order to persuade people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Popular “news” sites knowingly publishing false stories in order to provoke extreme reactions that drive social sharing are probably the most well known example of this.  But there are many more.  Fake social followers, rigged polls, false reviews, the list goes on.

Some people put a lot of standard SEO practices into this category, and to be honest, we are among those people.  Attempting to game a set of algorithms in order to create a ranking that would not otherwise be achieved is definitely dishonest in our opinion.

This is a much bigger problem that you might expect.

Certain practices have become so widespread that they are considered to be acceptable. We disagree. But SEO is definitely a subject for another article. Let’s get back to things that people do that fall into the “grey hat” category

Inspired by science

Beauty products claiming to be “Inspired by science”.

What does that even mean?

Inspired by science?

When you actually stop and think about it it clearly doesn’t mean anything at all.  Yet if you don’t stop and think about it, it evokes mental images of scientists working in a lab in order to create products that will genuinely and definitely have the effects they claim.

The person, or agency who decided to use that line did it knowingly.  They chose it in the full knowledge that it would make people think a product was backed by scientific studies, when in actual fact it simply means that the people who created it quite like science. Maybe they simply thought about clever men and women in white coats when they designed it.

The one thing it very clearly isn’t is a product created using scientific principles and subjected to rigorous scientific studies.

It is actually a clever lie. It most certainly is not ethical marketing.

Cancer Fundraising

Another example you regularly see is in the marketing efforts of certain cancer charities. It is well known that using pictures, videos, and stories of children with cancer evokes a stronger emotional response in the public (I write this as a parent of a young child who has survived cancer). Yet the funds raised with these campaigns are not always destined for use helping children.

Ethical marketing in cancer fundraising

It’s harder to mind in examples like this as the charity is still doing good in the world. But they are telling a lie in order to do it.

Would people donate as much if they knew that the marketing campaign wasn’t being strictly honest?

I’d guess probably not.

However this doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to raise just as much money by being honest.  It just needs a bit more thought, and perhaps a little marketing expertise as well.

So this leads us to the first point of our company manifesto:

When dealing with customers, and in the work we do for them, we will always be honest.

So at Client Magnet we will never take on any project that would put us in a position where we are being deliberately deceptive. We will never create content that is not strictly based on truth. We will not attempt to trick our way up the results of Google. Simply put, we will never do anything in order to trick a potential customer in buying.

This doesn’t just apply to the work we do for our customers, but it applies to our own working lives too.

We won’t try to trick you into taking us on to carry out every aspect of your marketing. If we perform an audit for you and come up with recommendations you are free to ignore those recommendations if you wish. Or even take them to a different agency to have them implemented. We’ll even suggest one to you if we genuinely think they are better placed than us to do the work.

We will not try to trick you

If we don’t believe what we do is the right choice for you then we will tell you. 

It also means that we won’t take on work just because we know we could do it and make money.

Who We Want to Work With

There has to be something good in the work we do.

You don’t have to be a registered charity, we will work with any person or company who is trying to do some good in the world.  Whether it does happen to be a long established charity, or perhaps a small local business who is trying to improve their efforts at sustainability and don’t know how to tell the world about it.

We love working with businesses in the area we are based (on the Surrey/Hampshire borders)  But we will work with small business across the country if the money they make because of our efforts is invested in the local area. We consider that to be a valuable part of sustainability (more on that soon).

So if you want to sell diet pills online and need help writing copy for a landing page we are not the agency for you.

If you’re a restaurant who sources your ingredients locally and want to improve your social media presence we’d love to talk to you.

If you are importing fashion clothes that are made in a factory in Bangladesh where children work for a pittance then we won’t help you.

If you are a sports club who want to drive fan engagement and want to discuss the most ethical marketing approaches to doing that then we’d love to meet for a coffee and a chat.

The simplest rule of thumb, is that if you worry whether you are “good” enough, then we probably do want to work with you. At the least we’d love to meet up for a coffee and a chat. Why not drop us a line?

So in this first article we have only scratched the surface of ethical marketing, but it is probably the most important principle of what we do. That is why it came first.

In the next article we will look at what sustainability is, and why we should all care about it.