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Accept a fundamental aspect of modern marketing

Accept a fundamental aspect of modern marketing – another reason we stayed profitable and in growth for our fifty years in business.

Here’s something that is fast becoming the most fundamental aspect of marketing we all have to get right, especially if we want to build a truly sustainable high quality organisation (of any size) in the modern age:

Ensure the ethics and philosophy of our organisation are good and sound.

This might seem a bit tangential to marketing and business, and rather difficult to measure, nevertheless…

  • Price is no longer the king, if it ever was.
  • Value no longer rules, if ever it did.
  • Quality of service and product is not the deciding factor.

Today what truly matters is ethical and philosophical quality – from the bottom to the top – in every respect – across every dimension of the organisation.

Fifty years ago when we were first in business UK Vending Ltd would, in the much-understated terms of the day, have been called an excellent supplier, a decent and caring employer and a good neighbour. We understood then, as our family always had, that a really good business was a long-term business. We needed to be corporate friends with those who mattered to our business. In time we figured out that meant pretty well everyone. We also understood that a good business to be successful does not have to ride rough-shod over anyone – in fact quite the reverse. It has always been to our advantage that we are a family owned and run business. People recognise that this has a particular connotation and implies, correctly in our case, that we are involved and close enough to what goes on to take our personal reputations seriously and are hands-on in managing care to all we are associated with. Over the years, as we became a significant national company, the ‘family owned’ message helped humanise us in the minds of our customers and prospective customers. It helps us establish firmly with those our business touches something of our ethics and our philosophy.

Modern consumers, business buyers, staff and suppliers too, are today more interested than ever before in corporate integrity, which is defined by the organisation’s ethics and philosophy. These are reflected in environmental concerns, use or supply of Fairtrade™ or Sustainable goods, attainment of or compliance with published and recognisable ‘standards’, publishing your policies and displaying a uniform Corporate Social responsibility programme.

Good sound ethics and philosophy enable and encourage people to make ‘right and good‘ decisions, and to do right and good things. It’s about humanity and morality; care and compassion; being good and fair and being seen to be so.

Profit is okay, but not greed; reward is fine, but not avarice; trade is obviously essential, but exploitation is not. If your marketing message does not conform with these be aware that you risk the shunning of many in the community with whom you might like to do business.

Psychological Contract theory is helpful towards understanding and developing fair balanced philosophy, especially in meeting the complex needs of staff, customers and the organization.

People naturally identify and align with these philosophical values. The best staff, suppliers, and customers naturally gravitate towards organisations with strong philosophical qualities.

Putting a good clear ethical philosophy in place, and communicating it wide and far lets people know that your organisation always strives to do the right thing. It’s powerful because it appeals to people’s deepest feelings. Corporate integrity, based on right and good ethical philosophy, transcends all else.

And so, strong ethics and good philosophy are the fundamentals on which all good organisations and businesses are now built.

People might not ask or talk about this much: the terminology is after all not fashionable ‘marketing-speak’, nor does it correlate obviously to financial performance, but be assured; everyone is becoming more aware of the deeper responsibilities of corporations and businesses in relation to humanity, and morality, the natural world, the weak and the poor, and the future of the planet.

Witness the antagonism growing towards certain multi-nationals. People don’t rail against successful corporations – they rail against corporations which put profit ahead of people; growth ahead of society and communities; technology and production ahead of the natural world; market domination ahead of compassion for humankind. None of this is right and good, and these organisations are on borrowed time.

People increasingly prefer to buy from, deal with, and work for, ethical, right-minded organisations. And whether an organisation is ethical and right-minded is becoming increasingly transparent for all to see.

So be one.

Aside from which – when you get your philosophy right, everything else naturally anchors to it. Strategies, processes, attitudes, relationships, trading arrangements, all sorts of difficult decisions – even perhaps directors’ salaries and share options dare we suggest.

It need not be complicated. The ultimate corporate reference point is: “Is it right and good? How does this (idea, initiative, decision, etc) stack up against our ethical philosophy?”

Organisations are complex things, and they become more and more complicated every day. A good ethical philosophy provides everyone with a natural, reliable reference point, for the tiniest detail up to the biggest strategic decision.

So as you start to write your marketing plan, be it for a new start-up, a huge corporation, or a little department within one, make sure you put a ‘right and good’ ethical philosophy in place before you do anything else, and watch everything grow from there.

Martin Button is the Managing Director of UK Vending Ltd, Britain’s longest serving vending company. UK Vending Ltd (UKV) is a national supplier of prestige vending products and a provider of unique financial packages supporting UKV sales. UKV is a family owned business started some fifty years ago by Martin’s father John. It was the first vending company anywhere in the world hosted on the internet when most had not yet heard of the World Wide Web. One of Google’s ‘naturals’, UKV had an online shop before Amazon and Ebay. UKV had a successful background in email marketing before most companies had begun to understand its power. Imaginative marketing coupled with excellent staff recruitment and management, planning and customer service may be key to UKV’s long-term success in this competitive market. However, sheer business savvy and insight is what makes it work.

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