For any type of business, marketing, teaching, you name it, working with a client you love makes the work easier. For a teacher, that may mean a class of engaged students. For a marketer, that may look like working with a client whose product you love.
Ethics in marketing are crucial. In any business, this holds true. Having values and sticking to them is what makes a business successful. Working on a project you don’t feel good about or doesn’t align with your values often means the work you produce won’t be your best.
Marketing a Product You Love
In marketing, feeling good about what you are selling is essential. Selling a product you love is motivating and much easier than selling a product you don’t care about.
When marketing a product you love, it’s easy to answer questions like what’s the unique selling proposition? The answer is the reason why you like it.
But, marketing products you love isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. When you love something, you often don’t see all the imperfections. For marketing, that may mean you miss a flaw in branding. What if the client’s audience doesn’t relate to part of their branding, but you do because you love the product? Will you notice the inconsistency?
Although marketing a product that you are infatuated with makes the job easier, it can also be frustrating. As you are scratching your head wondering why it’s not selling, the reason may be in that branding inconsistency you missed.
The Ethics of Marketing a Product You Don’t Love
Marketing a product you don’t love is harder than marketing the one you do. It’s harder to understand why people want the product when you don’t want it yourself. The upside of selling something that’s unfamiliar to you is that you need to work harder and challenge your creativity, which makes you a better marketer.
Now that we know the benefits of marketing a product that doesn’t suit your fancy, let’s dive into the question, is it unethical to market a product you don’t love?
Marketing a bad product is most likely unethical. But what about marketing a product you don’t love but other people do? That is where things get tricky.
Is It Unethical to Market a Product You Don’t Love?
The Argument for Yes
When marketing becomes profit first, it becomes immoral. Marketing a product you don’t love with a money-first mindset can be unethical. Why? Because it’s easy to get caught in a lie. Companies who only want sales can easily exaggerate the quality of a product. Exaggerating the quality of the product you don’t love is a slippery slope. You can lose sight of the truth about the product. That slope may lead you to market a giraffe as an elephant.
The Argument for No
To make the argument for no, let’s look back at the challenges of marketing something you aren’t crazy about. It challenges you to think outside the box and look at the product from a different perspective. If you can see value in the product from a lens other than your own, go ahead and market the heck out of it! As long as you remember why the product is valuable, and don’t make up a new “fact” about it without evidence, it’s ethical.
The Answer Isn’t Black and White
The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. It depends on what your values and the clients are and what message you spread about the product.
If you don’t love your client’s company because they are selling a bad product, maybe you should not work with them. But if you don’t like their product simply because it’s not for you, keep working with them! They are in business because there is a need for their product. If the client’s mission is ethical, their practices align with their mission, and there is an audience for their products, why not work with them?
Deciding to Market a Product
When trying to decide whether to work with a client and get behind their brand, you have to ask yourself a few questions. This goes for marketing a product you love and one you don’t.
- Does their mission align with yours?
- Do they stick to their mission in their practices? For example, if they say they believe in honesty and transparency in business, can you find information about how their products are made, or are things not so transparent?
- Is there an audience that wants news about their product?
There’s no easy answer to the question of whether it’s ethical to market a product you don’t love. It comes down to why don’t you love the product, the client’s values, and whether their work reflects their values. The good news about marketing a product you don’t love is that if you can sell a product you don’t love, you can sell anything!
At Colibri, mission-driven marketing and transparency are a top priority. That’s why we became a B Corp-certified business. Want to learn more? Check out our 2019 impact report. If you are curious about mission-driven marketing, sign up for a complimentary 30-minute strategy session. Just click the button below to get started!