In part one of this column, we defined ethics-driven marketing as leveraging your good ethics to grow your business. We explained that it involves defining your personal ethical beliefs, evaluating your business practices against those beliefs and communicating your ethical values to the marketplace. We also concluded that ethics-driven marketing is, in fact, ethical because it helps you attract and help more clients. And that’s a good thing in an environment of disappearing pensions, reappearing inflation and budget-busting gas prices.
The key to ethics-driven marketing is intention. You should use it as a deliberate strategy for growing your business. You need only follow a few simple steps.
Reflect on your personal beliefs about business. What and who do you believe in? Consider some of your personal heroes and identify the principles they stood for. Consult the codes of ethics of respected industry associations such as the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the Financial Planning Association, the Society of Financial Services Professionals, the Million Dollar Round Table and the National Ethics Bureau. What concepts and themes in these codes resonate with you? Now pull your thoughts together into a written code of ethics that reflects your beliefs and motivate you personally.
Evaluate your business practices against your code. Write them down and consider whether they’re consistent with your ethical values. It’s helpful to focus on each step in the sales process. For example:
- Do your pre-approach letters communicate the type of practice your code envisions?
- Do your appointment-setting calls project professionalism and truthfulness?
- Do you practice full and accurate disclosure in your first prospect meeting?
- Do you perform a careful job of identifying financial needs and understanding a prospect’s personal concerns?
- Are your sales tools accurate, truthful and approved by the appropriate authorities?
- Do you recommend the right products for the right reasons?
- Are your sales documents – illustrations, exhibits and collateral – completely accurate?
- Do you use high-pressure closing tactics, appealing to prospects’ fears and ignorance, or do you use friendly persuasion to move them toward appropriate resolutions?
If you find any disconnects between your values and your procedures, fix them.
Communicate your ethical values to the marketplace. The final component of ethics-driven marketing is communicating your commitment to ethics. How? By sharing it in your marketing materials, on your Web site, at your seminars, in your client newsletter and in the articles you write for local publications. The NEB encourages its members to use every communication vehicle at their disposal to showcase their ethical standards.
The point is this: If you are truly committed to ethics, then make it the focal point of your marketing effort. It will energize your business and communicate the one thing prospects really want to know – that you are a person they can trust.