Morals Vs Marketing: Is Your Copy Ethical?

Riley Barry

Capitalism is bad: stop selling things! That’s it, that’s all I have to say, you can go home now.

Just kidding…

But seriously, capitalism is pretty rough.

All those businesses out there forcing their brightly coloured pop-ups on the minds of the average internet meme viewer. It’s disgusting. How could you even think about disrupting a funny dog video with an advert for your latest kitchen household invention?!

I mean, you have to, right?

We have to develop adverts to sell our products and services. We need those ads to display all the amazing things we’ve developed to help the lives of the average homeowner.

How else will our audience know that we have all these cool amazing things to offer them!

How will they find us if not for intrusive ads and scary, fear-mongering headlines!?

We need ads!

But do we?

Wouldn’t it be way cooler if an avid shopper decided to buy your product not because of how pushy or salsey your ad was but because they firmly believed they couldn’t live without it?

It would, wouldn’t it?

Sure, selling things is nice. It makes a whole lot of money too. But I’d definitely prefer my genius invention to be used every day by my clients instead of being shoved in the ‘stuff’ drawer – you know that drawer where you put all that random crap you swear had a purpose at one point. That drawer – a fate worse than the bin.

But how do you even start getting noticed online without striking fear into the hearts of your audience? How do you appeal to them if you’re not agitating their pain points and showing them you’re the only solution?

Well, I’m going to show you how you can make your copy more ethical, while still bringing in a whole boatload of interested customers.

Ethical marketing: yes, it is possible

Is it better to be trusted or feared? When it comes to selling online – definitely trusted!

81% of consumers love to buy from brands they trust. If your copy is a bit pushy, or it strikes fear into the hearts of your audience, then they’re not going to trust you one little bit. In fact, they might even run away and go straight over to your competitors where they feel comfortable and respected.

Without building a solid foundation of trust with your audience, you won’t get very far online. But building trust takes a lot of time and dedication, which is why many businesses use intimidation or fear-mongering tactics instead.

Some businesses build up a rep of using marketing tactics that downright make the customer feel scared of saying ‘no’ to their offer.

Now, I’m not here to tell you this tactic doesn’t work because it does. It works really, really well. But, wouldn’t it feel a bit better to know somebody was buying something from you because they trusted you and your offerings?

This is why ethical copywriting is the way forward for businesses. It builds trust and secures long-lasting relationships with your clients. It allows you to develop your brand as a positive force within your niche. It encourages your clients to recommend you and leave positive reviews about how amazing they feel after working with you!

How to write ethical ads

Remember how before I was like, ‘ugh, ads can’t believe they just interrupted this cute cat video’. Despite it being incredibly annoying for the average internet scroller, your ads are an essential part of building up an online presence.

Paid advertisements aren’t the only way to get noticed online, but your audience won’t thank you for being mean, or straight up lying, in your advertisements. Sure, you might get a few interested clients, but you also might insult or scare off a few in the meantime.

Let’s look at weight loss companies, for example.

They often target people at random, telling them if they’re overweight, then they’re unhealthy and ugly – which just isn’t true. They feed on their viewers’ fears and insecurities to sell their products.

This might motivate a few people to convert or get some sort of message across, but overall it’s just being mean when you really don’t have to be.

If they were just a smidge more compassionate and focused on the positives on their life-changing products, they’d build trust with their audience and get happier, loyal clients that recommend them to all their fans.

Who wants to pay for something that makes them feel like crap?

Take a look at these two examples. Which one would you prefer to work with?

  1. Weight loss company A: “If you’re overweight, you’re unhealthy and unattractive. Look beautiful by losing weight with our company!” 
  2. Weight loss company B: “Are you looking to lose weight? Feel confident in your body. Our team can help you accomplish your weight loss goals!”

Do you see what I’m on about? There’s no need to be nasty! If people want to lose weight and your services or products can help them, then they’ll work with you. 

Yes, you can use ads. Of course you can! There are loads of people out there looking for the services or products you provide.

How to write ethical sales copy...and what to avoid

I know I said I’d show you how to write ethical sales copy, and I’m going to do that in just a moment – I promise.

But first, a word from our sponsor.

Almost got you there, didn’t I? See, it’s annoying when ads interrupt an exciting piece of content. 

Okay, okay, writing ethical sales copy – let’s go!

Here are my five tips on how how to write ethical sales copy for your company.

1. Know your audience - and speak to them

If you want to sell online, then you have to know what your audience really wants!

Knowing who you’re selling to is vital for your company’s success online, and it’s key to ethical copy. By knowing exactly who your ideal customer is, what their real issues are, and what they ultimately want from your company, you can create meaningful content that actually helps them.

Photo by Anthony Fomin

The easiest way to get to know your audience is simple – do some research. If you already have clients in your industry, start by asking them questions around why they hired you, the biggest value you bring to their company/lives, what problems they were looking to solve when they hired you. Then, move onto researching where your target audience hangs out online and what questions they’re asking.

2. Always be honest about what you’re offering

Photo by Jamie Street

Honesty is the best policy, and if you’re not honest about what you’re offering, then eventually, you’re going to get caught out and dragged through the mud. Ouch.

86% of consumers say that when a brand is being their authentic self, they’re more likely to purchase with them.

So, when you’re composing your next advertisement, be honest about what your product or service can and can’t do. Highlight the benefits and show them the features but don’t lie or exaggerate about what you’re offering!

3. Share real testimonials and client experiences

Posting client testimonials and stories will help you connect with your audience a lot more. Adding these to your copy will allow your potential clients to understand what you’re offering and feel comfortable knowing you do what you say you do.

Actual customer experiences work wonders for marketing and can help you enhance your conversions and get more people interested in what you do.

4. Avoid using a false sense of scarcity

If you’re offering a product that’s only available for a short amount of time, then let your audience know – they need to be right; otherwise, they’ll miss out on a fantastic opportunity.

Scarcity is a great marketing tactic, but if you’re offering evergreen services like a course, for example, avoid using these tactics. People will notice if something that’s ‘limited’ is always running, and you’ll end up looking untrustworthy.

Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev

5. Always deliver on your promises

Don’t promise your audience one thing and then do something different. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’ll affect the trust you have with your potential clients, and it’ll drive away business.

Well, how do we feel about ethical copy?

Sounds a lot better than angry or passive aggressive adverts doesn’t it!

If you’re looking to write ethical copy for your website, emails, or your ads then we’d like to help you out.

The team at The Content Lab is all about helping your customers get the most out of your business. Get in touch with us today to start writing better, more ethical copy.


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