Morality in Marketing

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We are living in unprecedented times. Meaning there has been no preceding occasion to look back and reference as a ‘how to.’ Sure, there have been previous illnesses and pandemics, but with technology and communication the way it is today, we all have information at our fingertips. Instantaneously if we want it. A 17-year-old self-taught programmer (thanks to YouTube) developed a real-time tracker website for this current outbreak. So global information is there for us. It’s in our emails, it’s on our TVs and it’s in voicemails and text messages. If you have kids in Hillsborough County Public Schools, you know what I’m talking about. It’s everywhere we look. It’s at the forefront of all our lives as it should be, like it or not. But what does all this information mean for small businesses such as us?

For many of us, it puts us in a weird moral dilemma. Is it insensitive to market your business and products while the world is scrambling to figure out how to stay healthy? Health is ultimately the most important resource. Will our customers be offended if we advertise to them? But if I don’t advertise, will our customers remember us?

We, as small family-run businesses, are dependent on that revenue stream, but our customers are dependent on their own revenue streams, many of whom are in a state of uncertainty themselves. How can we expect someone to spend their hard-earned money with us when they may very well be unemployed or dramatically reduced in hours?

Meanwhile large corporations show national commercials with ‘we are here to help’ messaging. That’s all well and good, but do I think GM or Coca Cola are really there to help me? Or is that a back-door marketing ploy? Should I do a ‘we are here to help’ message too? Will I look uncaring if I don’t? Can we even really help?

I recently heard a furniture store commercial that began with a dramatic description of the suffering that people are going through, to then follow up with a bit about self-quarantining and social distancing at home. “You should of course, be comfortable at home, so come to our spacious, non-crowded showroom and buy our furniture.” I can tell you, as a customer, I didn’t appreciate that tactic. It felt manipulative at best. It was, however, the motivator for me writing this post. That is our dilemma. How much is too much?

These are just a few of the moral dilemmas we face as small businesses today. So, what can we do? I hear some people say, ‘Shame on you for marketing at a time like this,” and I hear others say, ‘Good for you, keep going.’ All I can tell you is what we plan on doing. Are we right? Are we wrong? I don’t know and only our customers, time and observation will tell.

I firmly believe that gratitude goes a long way in terms of personal health and fulfillment. Many times, the best way to show your gratitude is with a gift. No, this is not a back-door marketing strategy in the works here. However, it is what motivates us to continue advertising. Sometimes, in the darkest of times, the act of giving can change a person.

So, what you can expect to see from us is an attempt to normalize our day and yours. We will continue with the fun graphics and contests, including your weekly coffee giveaway, #PerkUpWithJoe. If it helps you escape your daily stressors, then that’s a win. If it generates a sale, that’s a bonus. Please just know that it doesn’t mean we are ignoring the world around us.

You may see new product posts as well. For many of us, our stress relief is in the form of creativity. Creativity means new products. Does that mean we expect people to buy them during their own time of uncertainty? Of course not. It’s our stress relief. Pure and simple. If someone buys it, bonus.

You may see us share crafts or activities to do with your kids. It’s not because we are trying to sell you something or make ourselves look good. It’s because we think you may enjoy it with your kids.

What we are going to do is follow our gut and do what feels right. Does using this pandemic to generate sales feel right? Nope. Does staying silent out of fear of offending someone feel right? No, it does not. Does being a source of gratitude and a distraction from stress feel right? You bet it does. So that’s what you can expect from us now and in the future. We mean it when we say our business is “Life Inspired” and life isn’t always pretty, but that doesn’t mean we can’t gain some inspiration from it still.

2 thoughts on “Morality in Marketing”

  1. I applaud you for your honesty & for keepin I’m goin. As a small business owner myself, I understand the struggle-it is real. Thank you for sharing! Stay safe & healthy.

    1. Thanks for reading and the encouragement Amy. Good health to you as well! Keep your chin up and be proud of the business you have worked so hard to build.

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