Marketing with Integrity

One of the legit joys of working in nonprofit is the ease with which you can write compelling, honest promotional copy — just connect the current appeal to the mission and you’re basically done.

Over in the profit sector, things aren’t so simple. For one thing, most businesses are built to make money for their owners and investors, at best a morally neutral endeavor. You’ll need to convince customers that you’re in fact incentivized to take their interests to heart when designing (and supporting) your new feature or product.

You also have a meta-issue to contend with: it’s entirely possible to sell the mere perception of value. People are even glad to pay for it! Are you in that line of business?

Of course not! But you can’t just claim that and be done. Here are some tips for your approach:

  • Get in their head. Answer the reader’s first question first. This is often “why should I read this copy?”
  • Reveal values with origins. Why did you build this product? Why did you get into this business? This primes readers to consider their own journey.
  • Don’t waste my time. Be clear about what the offer is and isn’t. Willingness to lose business you don’t want is a costly signal.
  • Start substantive, then revise catchy. Avoid depending on buzzwords and jargon. This is especially vital when getting approval from stakeholders — you want to make a big claim you can stand by. And when you make that claim…
  • Use dream logic. Your product isn’t just a thing, it’s a representation of the type of person or organization you want to be. It vanquishes fears and overcomes obstacles. It resolves tension. Know and embrace these dynamics for maximum effect.