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  • Writer's pictureEms Rae Searle

Why Honesty and Ethics Matter in Marketing

Have you heard terms like ethical marketing strategy and business ethics and wondered what they mean for you? Have you come across ethical marketing examples but you’re wondering why you should jump on board? Is it for you? Are you worried you’ll be passing up perfectly good business in the name of feeling good?

Unsure why you’re putting off hounding new contacts on social media or firing email newsletters out every ten days? It’s probably because at some deep level it doesn’t feel right.

Is there an alternative? You bet your boots there is.

There’s a fine line between selling well and being a dick

What’s the difference between a well-made suit from a tailor and something off-the-peg from the high street? It’s not just the cost – it’s the way that the sleeves fit at the wrist, the trousers at the ankles and the way that it drapes over your shoulders.

There are those out there who’ll do the equivalent of whipping an ensemble off a rail, slinging it over you and telling you that you look just fabulous, when the reflection looking back at you resembles a sack of potatoes tied up with string.

It’s a form of commercial gaslighting and if you’re into that kind of thing, then go off and do something more worthy with your time, like stamping on kittens. This blog isn’t for you.

But if you’ve learned that happy business practices help you to sleep better at night, then read on to find out more about why you should be conscious about how you sell.

Being responsible

You’ve caught someone’s eye. They’ve noticed your sparkly offering or savvy post on social media and they’re drawn in, wanting more. Taking time and energy out of their day, they've got a problem to solve and you look like just the ticket.

What if you’re not though?

What if you’re tempted to hoodwink your prospective client into buying? You’ll convince them that your one-size-fits-all product is going to make them into the next best thing when you know you’re not the one for them. You take their money, disappear into the night and hope they don’t come back to steal your washing.

Here’s the thing. Not only have you robbed them of their precious resources and their time but you’ve also stopped them pursuing someone who has the specific skillset to solve their issues. Be honest and take time to find out more about them and what they do before going in for the kill.

In fact, don’t go in for the kill at all – but more of that later.

Are you aligned?

Everyone has a stance on Marmite, how they like their tea and their favourite kind of weather (well, British people do, anyway). Some read star charts for insight, turn to things like human design for career direction and place crystals on the window to charge in the moonlight in the hope that they’ll bring favourable tides and bountiful seasons.

There is something about us that seeks guidance from and connection with the planet we live on. We’re no different in the way we seek people out – some we’ll attract, others we’ll be indifferent about, others we’ll repel.

What does this mean for you and the way you sell yourself? Acknowledge that you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – and pretending that you are infringes on their boundaries. A good coach will work closely with their client, take time to understand their human nature, create a bespoke way forward and then cheerlead them all the way.

If you’re not a good fit this process won’t work well. Your client will be left feeling vulnerable and even violated. So don’t pretend you’re going to be everyone’s saviour. This isn’t honest.

Honesty builds trust

The saying goes that it costs more to attract new business than it does to retain existing customers. So a good and efficient use of your time and resources is to make sure they come back for more.

It’s also the right thing to do.

Follow the know/like/trust holy grail with conviction and integrity. If you build genuine relationships that aren’t based on making a fast buck, everyone will feel better and you’re more likely to get referrals too. Ethics in marketing is all about the long game.

You’re the right person for all the right reasons

Tacky tactics for sealing the deal can get right in the bin. Manipulating someone until they’re a booking in your diary and have handed over their cash is just plain shitty and I need everyone to stop doing this now.

Instead, allow your client to make an informed decision. If you’re energetically aligned and you have the best offering to suit their needs, they’ll know and they won’t be able to wait to jump onboard. Trust me on this. It works.


Emotions based on fear or threat can be very powerful. They’ve been used to manage and mold the masses throughout human history but in recent decades, they’ve been used prolifically to control our consumer habits.

Now fear can be a helpful emotion, particularly if we’ve dropped our ice cream into the lion enclosure at the zoo or we fancy a stroll across a motorway. It keeps us safe. But when it goes into overdrive it causes things like anxiety, depression and trauma – as a coach, these are the very things you’re trying to put right in the world.

So you’re selling using the very thing that makes the problem worse. Have a bit of a think about that. Ethical marketing for coaches moves people away from the thing that caused the hot mess in the first place, it shouldn’t take them closer.

Cornering someone into buying your service means that they’re going to buy from you for all the wrong reasons. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll trigger a trauma response in a vulnerable person. Are you OK with this?

Finally, the dinosaurs are dying out

A little freebie insight on the market here: Ethics are important to Millennials and even Gen Z. The way that things have been done in the past won’t reach future consumers, so update your approach because the new audiences won’t be buying the old ways.

Marketing strategy for coaches is shifting from shovelling everyone into the same funnel to using intuitive and informed attraction instead. It’s intelligent, respectful and creative. I’m quite excited at the thought.

I hope I’ve given you a few things to think about. This is my life now, I can’t imagine living and selling any other way. If this has fired a few neurons and you’ve another ten minutes left of your coffee break, take a peek at my services to see how I can help you eradicate the 'ick' from your marketing strategy.

Ems xo


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