Despite all the negative aspects of conventional marketing, it’s worth getting the word out, because people do prefer to buy from companies that put ethics above profits. The big guns don’t do this authentically. So if you’re not a ‘greenwasher’, you are already streets ahead. And the smaller you are, the better. People get overwhelmed by the ‘paradox of choice’. In one study, people who were offered 3 types of jam bought the best – when offered 20 types of jam, they got overwhelmed and did not buy anything. So pare down, so it’s easier to market what you do offer. Artist Hans Hofmann wrote ‘simplicity is the art of eliminating the unnecessary, so that the necessary may speak’. In other words, the less choice there is, the better it is to find the good stuff.
Do you need social media to market your business? No. There is no proof that any type of social media really helps, more organic traffic and consistency (and age!) Small companies that prove trustworthy over several years are more likely to last, over flash-in-the-pan social media stars. Even Pinterest (which used to be a good source of traffic) is now not much use, as they’ve changed their procedures to keep paying advertisers happy. If you spend more time focusing on building and editing social media than you do working on what you’re offering to your customers, then something is seriously wrong.
Marketing is something many ‘ethical businesses’ don’t like doing, as it seems spammy, and often those of us who prefer a ‘vocation’ rather than a job (just to earn money) tend to be people who shy away from PR companies, ads and the like. However this is a double-edged sword. Because obviously in order to get the word out, you usually have to market it!
Advertising is expensive, and many people now use ad-blocking software, so won’t see pop-ups (hated by everyone or ignored with so-called ‘banner blindness’). And people are increasingly giving up social media, due to being fed up of – ads! PR companies are extremely expensive and tend not to work anyway. So what’s the answer? If you run a blog or website, by far the best way to get traffic is to write quality original content consistently – and wait! We like the blog and e-books at Stray Curls (by someone who earns good passive income from doing exactly this, and teaches others how to do the same).
join Ethical Influences digital community
If you need extra help, join the digital community at Ethical Influencers, where you can connect and network with likeminded folks to help each other’s businesses thrive. If you’re into social media, you can communicate daily through Instagram or Facebook. If not, just sign up to get approved (we’re in!) to display the logo on your site, and find campaigns with those you would like to collaborate with, for you both to gain a bit of business exposure, and help the planet at the same time.
All PR experts say that you have to sync campaigns to ‘news’. So for instance, if the BBC reports this week that there will soon be more plastic in the sea than fish – this would be a good time to co-launch a campaign with one of their members who sells zero-waste cutlery etc. Founded by a sustainable fashion blogger, we think Ethical Influencers is one of the most proactive ways for like-minded writers, photographists, artists and campaigners to get together. There’s power in numbers, especially in a world increasingly obsessed with power, celebrity and naysayers.
how to market your vegan business
One niche area of ethical marketing is vegan businesses, which have seen a huge rise in recent years, as the ‘plant-based movement’ grows. Nearly all product launches these days are animal-friendly, a huge step in the right direction. This ‘new market’ is now home to around 2 million people alone in the UK claiming to be vegan, with issues like climate change and zero waste going alongside them. Read Vegan Marketing Success Stories, an inspiring read by PR expert Sandra Nomoto (above).
The problem is that lots of marketing in the vegan world is also greenwashing in other ways, leading to feelings of ennui and distrust. Many ‘vegan brands’ contain palm oil (food or beauty) leading to claims of hypocrisy (why save cows, and kill orangutans?) with false statements like ‘sustainable palm oil (no such thing) leaving some asking how official societies can promote brands that put money from palm oil, above the philosophy of ‘do no harm to animals’.
Rather than go broke paying for a PR company, again it’s best to join an online community of your own kind! Sign up with Vegan Business Tribe (run by PR professionals) to connect with others and for a few pounds each month, you can take courses and join business clinics.
Vegan Hacktivists is a great project, where a community of passionate animal welfare activists offer everything from free writing and design services to free websites, grants for design and marketing, linguists to translate your material and even the world’s first vegan social network to get the word out.
Lana Elanor has created a beautiful bumper set of vegan graphics. The affordable commercial license is enough for most (or buy the extended license). It includes images of barnyard friends and vegan food, 10 premade logos and images to support zero waste. All hand-painted with loving care, then scanned for your use. Includes fonts, but not mock-ups. Use to create literature, menus, invites and branding.