Why Do Marketing Ethics Matter for Small Businesses?

Dan Charles




Dan Charles
Website | + posts

Neck deep in the technical side of digital marketing for over 10 years now. You can often find me in the intersection between user experience, web design and search marketing.

Time: 4 Minutes well spent!

Did you know that marketing ethics is vital to owning a successful business?

If not, then know that right now, general consumers feel that:

  • Ads are more intrusive compared to 2 years ago
  • They will close browsers based on pop-ups alone
  • They strongly dislike mobile adverts
  • They have a lower opinion on businesses with auto-play videos
  • Personal recommendations rank over other advertising forms
  • They are constantly followed by online adverts
  • They get very frustrated with manipulative website design

Stay away from those negative statistics and use our guide below to learn what practices that ethics cover and what you should stay away from to strengthen your marketing strategy today.

What Is Marketing Ethics?

First of all, marketing ethics covers the way you should handle marketing for your business that is ultimately right or morally correct.

This is important because there are quite a few hidden marketing practices that are fundamentally unethical and could actually be detrimental to your small business.

Deceptive marketing won’t just impact your business, however, it will also harm your consumers, competitors, and everyone involved in the industry. There just isn’t a real, concrete reason to not follow the golden rule in regard to marketing.

While many businesses may use this unethical marketing to gain the advantage over the competitors, they won’t find the same business success as you if you remain open and honest in your advertising practices.

By remaining ethical, you will be able to maintain a positive image for your business and develop actual long-term relationships with your customers. This loyalty can achieve customer retention and increase new customers as well.

Customers don’t like to feel manipulated, so they’ll be able to invest trust in your small business and feel a sense of security.

Important Ethical Practices

Marketing ethics is a marketing strategy that covers all marketing efforts of your small business. As you might guess, that includes honesty, fairness, and responsibility in many, many areas.

Ethical marketing can be difficult to establish because everyone has their own subjective opinions about what is right and what is wrong.

Therefore, ethical marketing has to act as a set of guidelines rather than a hard list of rules to help small businesses. These guidelines share the same principles no matter the business, however, such as:

  • All communication channels sharing a common standard of truth
  • Staff abiding by the highest standard of personal ethics
  • Advertising that distinguishes news and entertainment
  • Businesses remaining transparent
  • Treating consumers fairly
  • Respecting consumer privacy
  • Discussing ethics during marketing decisions

Incorporate these practices into your business and you will achieve true ethical success for your business.

Types of Unethical Advertising

For successful marketing ethics, your business should also be aware of the types of unethical advertising that exist so that you don’t end up making a mistake.

Unethical marketing activities can destroy your reputation and maybe even lead to legal troubles. Stay ahead of the game and make sure you don’t follow these unethical practices:

Misleading in Advertising

False advertising is definitely illegal, but that doesn’t stop some businesses from misleading in their advertising.

If you claim that your product or service is much better than it actually is, your business will appear untrustworthy. Avoid crossing the line of dishonesty, but make sure that you still try to advance in the marketing game.


Manipulating consumers by exploiting their fears is also unethical, but that doesn’t stop some businesses. This fear-sell tactic can leave a lasting impact, especially when it targets anyone disadvantaged.

Do not exaggerate the risks that people face just so that you can sell them your product or service. Remain honest and open to gain the trust of consumers.


Stay away from flooding consumers with too many advertisements, especially when consumers have not given you direct permission to do so.

While you do need to deliver a sales message to potential customers, you do not want to email spam or automatically cold call via automatic dialers. These practices can anger customers and even turn them away.

Pushy Sales

Being overly aggressive is most certainly unethical, regardless of the fact that your business is trying to convince customers to buy your product or service.

An unethical business may bully consumers into making quick decisions or directly lie to them to make a sale.

You need to be above that and stay ethical. Focus on helping customers make informed decisions rather than on making the sale at any cost to make lasting customer relationships.

Develop a Code of Ethics

Now that you know what marketing ethics encompasses and what it does not, you should know a little bit more about developing a strong code of ethics.

The marketing code of ethics for your business must place significance on integrity and overall well-being of the customer. This includes the branding, promotion, sales support, relations, and community outreach for your business.

To create a successful code of ethics, make sure that your business:

  1. Defines ethical norms to guide business protocol.
  2. Specifies ethical values as they relate to your business.
  3. Implements marketing ethics that are relevant to your business.
  4. Implements AMA ethical norms and values in marketing activities.

Rise above your competitors, develop unique guidelines, and make sure that all of the staff is on the same page in regard to ethics.

That way, you can achieve a positive environment around your business for you and your customers.

Manage Your Marketing Today

Now that you know the game of marketing ethics, you will be able to make informed decisions for your business today.

If you need further help with your overall marketing strategy, then contact Be Fair Marketing Co today.

Be Fair Marketing Co focuses on you, the business owners, and treating you with the consideration and respect that you deserve.

Instead of speaking marketing jargon, I will make sure that you understand every part of the marketing strategy that we develop together.

That way, I can help you grow in a genuine, sustainable manner to keeps you in the spotlight for years to come. With a whole range of marketing services, I can help you develop the business success that you are looking for.

Get Your Free Website SEO Grade


Your free report includes a breakdown of opportunities to improve your website's SEO performance with actionable advice.

Dan Charles
Website | + posts

Neck deep in the technical side of digital marketing for over 10 years now. You can often find me in the intersection between user experience, web design and search marketing.

Leave a Reply