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  • Writer's pictureCJ Sullivan

Agriculture Entrepreneurs: Here Are 5 Ethical Copywriting Tips You Need for Success

You’ve likely heard the familiar quote by good ol’ Ben Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As a farmer himself, Mr. Franklin offers solid advice here. His guidance is no less important in the ethical copywriting arena.

So let’s start planning your agricultural venture by taking a closer look at the basics of ethical copywriting and why it’s so important to consider hiring a copywriting expert.

What is ethical copywriting and how do you plan for it?

Asking these questions is a great place to start. You’re smart. I like that in a reader.

The good news is – planting the seeds of ethical copywriting is not dependent on mother nature. Nope! You’re like the ever-trustworthy and dependable mail carrier. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall prevent you from your ethical copywriting responsibilities.

Ethics refers to your moral values. Your knowledge and understanding between right and wrong. The principles by which you make your decisions.[1]

Oftentimes legal parameters, religious beliefs, cultural norms, and societal expectations dictate your decisions. You may have a different set of proper boundaries than someone else. These differences stem from a variety of influences, which we won’t get into here.

One dilemma you may face is that just because something is legal may not make it the right thing to do. Having an ethical copywriting partner helps ease this uncertainty.

Copywriting involves researching and writing content used to market information about your business. The main goal of copywriting is to trigger a response from the reader.[2] These responses may include:

  • Subscribing to your newsletter.

  • Visiting your website.

  • Purchasing your product or service.

Keep in mind – the agricultural industry is as old as dirt.

And many ethical decisions are driven by dirt.

But I’m not talking about the soil.

No, this dirt is the dirtiest of dirt.

I’m talking of course about opinions and politics.

And they stink.

They smell like that hidden rotten potato in your produce bin on a hot summer day.

You recognize a familiar odor. You notice a herd of fruit flies gathering. You suspect the spoilage is there, but you can’t find it.

You tear apart your pantry to find the stenchy little culprit. Once found, you dispatch it to the outdoor trash can immediately.

You begin drenching the pantry and the rest of the house with a pine-scented aerosol freshener in hopes of covering that wretched smell.

But a hint of rotten potato clings in the air wrapped in a wreath of pine tree mist.

The struggle is real.

You definitely don’t want your company brand to reek of ethical copywriting woes.

Fear not. Ethical copywriting doesn’t have to be a bullfight.

By practicing the following five helpful tips, you can plan your entrepreneurial journey. And all without feeling like you need to fill your wagon with a two-ton load of Febreze.

1. Be honest with yourself about ethical copywriting

It’s human nature to have strong moral values based on religious beliefs, opinions, or political views. It’s not a surprise to see these characteristics spill over into the marketing aspects of your business.

This is where those dirty, stinky opinions and politics sneak in. Remember that rotten potato?

You don’t have time to tear apart your ethical copywriting pantry. You’ve got a business to run.

Another wise farmer once said, “He who defends himself has a fool for a client.” Yep, that message from Abe Lincoln holds true for your ethical copywriting efforts. Sure, you could dip your dirt-covered toes into the field of copywriting. But then you run the risk of becoming a bigger clod than those you find in your feedlot.

Instead of being your own client and risking the pitfalls of bias, hire an expert for your ethical copywriting needs. A worthy copywriter avoids the drawbacks of biased opinions and politics.

Hiring a copywriter not only frees up your time to work on your business but also keeps your partiality in check. Your customers appreciate this. Your customers want your products. They want to know and trust they are in a judgment-free zone.

This makes you stand out among your competitors.

2. Know your audience

You’re an entrepreneur. The name itself identifies you as someone working to promote a business or idea and likely it’s a freshly created project. Yet, with this newness often comes the temptation of reaching out to customers who may not be within your target range.

This is why knowing yourself and hiring an ethical copywriter is so important. These factors directly impact your decisions when choosing and speaking to your audience.

For example, if you’re a new farmer starting a cattle business, you won’t market your steaks to the local vegan restaurant. Vegans hold firm beliefs about consuming animal products. Adding a wider range of people to your target market in hopes of gaining a few more customers is tempting. But is the risk of offending an entire group of vegans worth it? Probably not.

Although it’s not illegal to reach out to a vegan restaurant, it’s not the right choice to make. Likewise, just because you’re not vegan doesn’t mean you should try to convince this audience to gulp down a filet mignon in your next blog.

There’s no use straddling an ethical copywriting fence by trying to appeal to all audiences. You’ll only end up inflicting a delicate wound or at the very least a tear in the seat of your Carhartts.

An ethical copywriter helps guide you to the right audience and steers you clear of those temptations.

3. Know the laws of ethical copywriting

Before I get too far, a disclaimer is nipping at my heels like a border collie rounding up a flock of sheep. And like any good little lamb, I must obey and provide you with this provision:

Nothing anywhere throughout this article is legal advice.

Okay. Got it.

Good dog.

We can continue now.

If knowing yourself and knowing your audience are the prerequisites for ethical copywriting, then knowing the laws is the major coursework.

Laws and ethics are two different aspects of doing business. The former involves legal regulations, and the latter involves your inner moral compass. Yet, they both overlap each other to some degree and oftentimes go hand-in-hand.

If you’re planning to tackle the task of providing your own advertising essentials, then you need to be aware of marketing laws.

Ask yourself the following questions when considering your ethical copywriting content:

  • Is your information clear and easy to understand?

  • Is your information truthful?

  • Are you providing all the necessary information for an informed choice?

  • Is your information free from manipulative strategies?

  • Are you providing credible resources for your content?

  • Is your information free from discriminatory implications?

  • Is your information free from fear to create a response?

  • Is your information free from copyright infringement?

These are just a few examples, but you need to be able to answer yes to all these questions.

My point for you is to take responsibility. Become familiar with legal guidelines for producing ethical copywriting content.

Begin by studying marketing laws. Visit the Federal Trade Commission website or discuss further with your attorney.

Hiring an outside agent to assist with your ethical copywriting will help to alleviate your concerns.

4. Quality research is a must for ethical copywriting

Researching information used in your marketing efforts is crucial for gaining customer trust. Ethical copywriting uses credible resources to support their content such as:

  • Online sites such as .edu or .gov.

  • Interviews with experts in your field business.

  • Well-researched reference material from a library.

Your audience depends on you to provide content they can rely on.

We’re going back to that stinky potato in your vegetable bin. Oh, yes we are!

Your audience judges your ethical copywriting content, and rightly so. Don’t think for a minute that they don’t or that they shouldn’t.

Your customers can get a whiff of a foul smell without even the slightest breeze. If your readers pick up even a trace of pervasive opinions or politics, they may lose faith in your product or service.

You owe it to your audience to provide beneficial, trustworthy content. An ethical copywriter produces results with integrity.

5. Honor your promises

Ethical copywriting isn’t just about the research and writing activities of marketing. Honor in the copywriting world is another key component for a successful business.

Long before the Internet and telephones, business people met customers in person. A handshake was a golden rule for contract negotiations. Today, most of our correspondence is electronic. The handshake is absent. But conscious copywriting still needs to be at the forefront of your mind.

You’re working hard to build a solid foundation and brand in your agricultural business. Do what you say and say what you mean. Stay true to your word. You can achieve a great reputation and positive referrals when you hire an ethical copywriter who:

  • Meets your deadlines.

  • Communicates timely and effectively.

  • Helps you provide quality and beneficial content for your customers.

Honoring your word is one of the best ways to show respect to your customers. It takes a lot of hard work to build trust and it only takes one broken promise to watch it all come crumbling down.

When you break your word, it pierces a customer’s heart. Even the smallest of infractions can do damage. A few examples of broken promises may include:

  • A late arriving newsletter.

  • An incorrect sales ad.

  • A misleading product description.

  • A manipulative or poorly researched blog post.

The hurt and disappointment can run deep. A broken promise makes a customer angry. They may even feel like you’re taking advantage of them.

Maya Angelou explains it best when she said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

It’s important for you to maintain reputable and sustainable ethics in copywriting. This helps to strengthen and grow your customer base with ease.

It’s time to make hay while the sun shines

Anyone in the agricultural industry has heard this phrase more than once in their lifetime. If, by chance, you haven’t heard it – it simply means taking a proactive approach to a situation while you have the time and ability to do so.

The same holds true for ethical copywriting issues as an agricultural entrepreneur. You need to take a proactive approach to your brand.

Connecting with your customer base is an ongoing effort. It’s not a quick fix or a one-time approach.

The impact of making hay while the sun shines goes far beyond this proverbial catchphrase.

Take the necessary steps now to ensure you have a solid plan for ethical copywriting right out of the gate. Review the five steps outlined above and revisit your plans regularly.

Check your marketing produce bin for those dirty, squishy unethical copywriting potatoes. If you start seeing flies or get a funky odor swirling in the air, get rid of that business spoilage right away.

Ethical copywriting is the cornerstone of your agricultural endeavors. You can achieve a harmonious balance of your business goals by hiring an expert.

Ethical copywriting begins with you. Stay true to your innermost principled voices. Stay equally true to the desires of your customers. Remain steadfast in the laws surrounding ethical copywriting. Make sure your copywriting content is clean, fresh, and ready for inspection at all times.

About the Author: CJ Sullivan of Midwest Copywriting shakes up the writing universe with her unique flair of going off the rails – if given free rein of her relentless pen. Her topics and styles are unconventionally adaptable to a diverse following of clients and readers – ranging anywhere from the premise of a haughty black tie tuxedo event to a trailer park beer bash. You’re not sure whether to gasp in shock or giggle in delight. Both are likely accurate but perhaps, at times, sinfully inappropriate. She specializes in agricultural copywriting but welcomes all realms, including outdoors, real estate, hunting/fishing, history/military, and more.

CJ is also the author of Joining the Army: A Guide for Mothers of Soon-to-Be Soldiers. When she’s not annoying her family or wrangling critters on the farm, you may find her exploring the world from behind a camera, telling stories around a campfire, or spilling food down the front of her shirt. That last one, for sure.

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