Career & Business

Is it Ethical to Do Business Right Now? 5 Compassionate Ways to Market & Sell

April 13, 2020

Hi! I'm Marie

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“Hey Marie, how do you run a business in the middle of a global pandemic?”

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received hundreds of voice messages from big-hearted entrepreneurs on this topic. It’s a fair question. What’s happening right now is unprecedented. Millions of people are struggling financially, emotionally, and physically. The pain and suffering are devastating.

If you’re a small business owner who’s still open, you might be wondering, “Is it even ethical to do business right now?”

On today’s episode of The Marie Forleo Podcast, you’ll learn five compassionate ways to both sell and serve your customers during this global crisis.

If you feel a sense of guilt or shame about selling anything right now, please listen to this episode. You’ll hear real-life examples of businesses that are making a difference and helping their business thrive during these extraordinary times. 

Bottom line? We need each other. Every act of kindness and contribution matters. Business owners and consumers have an important role to play in the healing of our world. We need everyone to do their part socially, spiritually, physically, and economically. 

This is an enormous opportunity to create hope from our collective hurt. 

As business owners, this is our chance to step up and become more caring, more generous, and more creative. 

Click to download the episode now from your favorite place to get podcasts, or hit play below. After you listen, be sure to join me in the comments for an important insight into action challenge.

DIVE DEEPER: One tip that will improve your copywriting fast and find marketing strategies that work with Seth Godin. Plus: our Coronavirus Support Guide.

5 Ways Your Business Can Sell & Serve During The Coronavirus

Looking for ways to serve your community and the long-term success of your business? Here are five ideas to market and sell with heart during this global crisis.

Strategy #1:  Buy One, Give One

Companies like Warby Parker and Toms have used this model for years. For every item you sell, give one for free to someone in need. 

An inspiring B-Schooler named Line adapted this into her business a few weeks ago for her online hypnobirthing course. She made thousands of dollars this month and was able to give her program away to women in need.

My friend, Natalie Golonka, is another example. Natalie designs swimwear and resort wear for her clothing brand, Jungle Gurl here in LA. A few weeks ago, her team started producing stylish cloth face masks that she calls, It's a Jungle Out There Face Masks. For every mask she sells, she’s donating one to local folks in need. The first round went to elderly people in assisted living facilities in her neighborhood.  

This buy one, give one strategy is simple but impactful. It’s a way to keep your business running and your team employed while making a difference. 

Strategy #2:  Donate a Portion of Your Proceeds

This is a strategy anyone can use, no matter what product or service you sell. 

Take DJ D-Nice. Right now tens of millions of people are self-quarantined. So what did D-Nice do? He created Club Quarantine and Home School on IG LIVE. These live sets have become so popular that he launched a limited edition D-Nice Club Quarantine hoodie, with 50% of proceeds going to the CDC Foundation Coronavirus Fund. 

How could you do this for your business? Whether you donate 25%, 50%, or 75% this is a beautiful way to sell your products and serve your community.

Strategy #3:  Offer Scholarships

We’ve used this strategy in our company for years. Our paid training programs like B-School and The Copy Cure have a scholarship program. Every year we give away full need-based scholarships to folks who wouldn't be able to invest in our training experiences otherwise.

It’s straightforward and a win for everyone.

Strategy #4:  Collect Tips and Give The Tips Away

As you’re aware, many brick and mortar businesses who rely on foot traffic have taken a big financial hit. When a small fashion brand and coffee shop called Neve & Hawk was able to stay open and do business curbside, they shared this message with their customers on social media:

“The fact that we are able to open in this capacity while so many of our friends cannot is not lost on us. So many stores & businesses have no way of generating income at this time while their bills keep piling up. Because of this, we will be donating our tips to a different business on the avenue daily.”

This is a brilliant example of businesses helping other businesses. Think through what this means for you. Even if you’re not a business that collects tips, could you show solidarity with your fellow business owners in another way?

Strategy #5:  Offer Generous Payment Plans or Put Payments On Pause 

This strategy won’t work for everyone, but it's a wonderful option if your business has some cash reserves.

Mario Salerno is a landlord in Brooklyn who owns 18 buildings and has about 300 tenants. As soon as the coronavirus hit, many of his tenants started losing their jobs. They were understandably fearful and panicked so Mario decided to cancel April’s rent. He said, “My concern is everyone’s health… look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.”

So beautiful, right? 

If you treat people with generosity and respect, they’ll remember it. Even if you only pause payments for a month or two, that can help. When your customers are able to get back on their feet, they’re likely to keep doing business with you.

It’s a long-term perspective on customer service and caring that is so necessary right now.

Today’s Insight Into Action Challenge

Now I’d love to hear from you. It’s time to take action, grow, and create results. Today’s question has two parts. Answer one or both in the comments below.

  1. If you can still do business right now, what can you offer folks that they need? How can you best serve your customers and community?
  2. Name 3 businesses you’re grateful for right now. Can you send them a message of appreciation, give them a shoutout on social media, or in some way support them? 

I can’t wait to hear how you’re putting your insights into action.

Share as much detail as possible in your reply. Thousands of incredible souls come here each week for insight and inspiration and your words may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough. Important: share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments. Links to other posts, videos, etc. will be deleted as they come across as spammy.

If you’ve spent any time around these parts, then you know I take a strong stand for kindness. Please write and respond to each other in that same spirit.

Keep your big heart front and center. The world needs you to show up and share that special gift that only you have — now more than ever.

All my love,

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