In a time of crisis, conscious marketing becomes even more important.
As a brand, you want your audience to trust you and continue buying from you. You want to be the brand that people admire and follow and buy from. Because you are compassionate and care, not just for your customers, but our planet and future also, not matter what times we live in.
And even in normal times (I know we haven’t had these in a while) conscious marketing is what everyone should be practising. Before I explain what I mean by conscious marketing let’s delve into the definition of marketing per se and why marketing has been getting such a bad rep.
What's the Definition of Marketing?
My economics professor at the university of Passau summed it up in 2000: “Der Wurm muss dem Fisch und nicht dem Angler schmecken.” Translated into English, this literally means: “The worm needs to be tasty to the fish, not the fisherman.”
So, what does this mean? In order to get your customers to buy your products, you need to understand what they really want and like. Only then can you align your marketing to what they actually want and need, and not what you think is right. Put yourself in your shoes of your customer: what do they like, what do they hate, what are their fears, how do they live, … The more you know, the better.
Back to marketing definitions. Let’s look at what AMA (American Marketing Association) says: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”*
The most important thing I take away from this definition is the holistic value that’s produced, encompassing everyone including society. This is the ideal way of doing marketing (if we include the environment as well), unfortunately though not many companies follow this.
Since the 90s I’d say, marketing has been influencing behavior to “get more people to buy more stuff, more often and for more money.” (Mark W. Schaefer – Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions)*
Look at global corporations like Coca-Cola or the Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industry. Do you need their products? No. Are they good for you? No Why are you buying them? Because they make you feel good and are convenient. (Oh, how I hate convenience products, but let’s talk about this a different time.)
So, what do I mean then by conscious marketing?
As we have seen in some of the above definitions, marketing is often seen as something dodgy or dirty, especially by people not familiar with the industry or small businesses who cringe when they hear the word. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Marketing is essential for any business to survive and grow. If no one knows you exist, no one will buy from you.
So, marketing you must. But you can do it in a smart and conscious way.
Do Your Research and get the Facts Right
As someone who deeply cares about the health of our planet, I get angry when I see companies green washing, often unknowingly, showcasing the ‘green’ benefits of their products which in reality they are not. For example, let’s look at clothing made from bamboo. Yes, bamboo grows fast and needs little water to grow (especially when compared to highly water-intensive cotton), but the process of turning the bamboo fibres into soft fabric is a process that requires loads of chemicals which are damaging to our environment. A regular consumer might not know this and the companies selling these products either haven’t done their research or are staying silent on this production issue.
So, please, always do your research, do not rely on others and make sure to get your facts right (if you don’t and your customer catch you, this can be very damaging to your brand).
Be Honest and Authentic
This is really in line with the above point. Yes, keep selling bamboo products, but be honest about the downside of it as well as the good sides, so consumers can make up their own mind. And be authentic, especially in times like these, be yourself and show your personality, share your worries, your dreams and let your customers become part of your journey.
Stay True to Your Values - Always
Authenticity and staying true to your values no matter how hard the times are so important. If you have always focused on reducing single-use plastic in your production process and shipping and you suddenly switch to black heavy-duty plastic packaging, your customers will be highly confused. Just don’t do it even if it might be a cheaper or easier option at the moment. Don’t take shortcuts - unless you really, really, really have no other option because of shortages or lock-downs, but always explain to your customers why you make that change in an authentic way.
Under-promise rather than over-promise
This is a tough one and I know goes against most sales strategies. You want that your customers see your product as the best, and that is why you are describing it as the best.
But, can you really hold that promise? What if your product does not do what you say in the timeframe you say? Yes, you can use caveats, but who reads them?
Just be honest and yes, praise your product by all means, but stay true to yourself.
Understand the challenges of your ideal customer and address them honestly
You really need to understand your customers’ needs and worries. The more you can put yourself in their shoes, the more likely they are going to buy from you as you will be able to address what they are looking for. To find out, ask them, most will be more than willing to oblige and tell you what it is what drives them and why they buy your products. Be honest about why you are asking them: Because you want to service them even better.
Find the Right Partner
Last but not least, you can’t do everything yourself and collaborating can help both sides immensely. Make sure to find the right partner(s) though who are aligned with what you do and stand for. Do not agree to influencers promising you the world if their audience are fitness addicts, but you are selling home knitting supplies (obvious example, I know). Why would they care and why would you want those people following you just for the sake of increasing your follower numbers?
You need a win win situation, a mutual benefit for both parties. Think about offering product packages or discounts for your partner business as an idea.
Conscious marketing should be the norm and it is by no means sorcery, isn’t it? It’s all pretty straight forward and should be common sense (I know, there is no such thing as common sense).
Let me recap, marketing is a good thing and you need to market yourself and your business as otherwise people would not know that you exist. Think positive about it and show your true personality and that of your brand and by all means, be honest and transparent in everything you do.
What is your best conscious marketing tip? I’d love to hear it. Please share in the comments or message me.