“Marketing is an ethical duty” Matt 15 Aug 2005

24 comments Latest by Online casino btdino

If your product is truly helpful to people, then you have an ethical duty to tell them about it. You have to do them the favor of marketing it. That’s the advice of Steve Pavlina in Marketing From Your Conscience. He writes, “You must become so convinced of the benefits of your product or service that you feel you’d be unjustly depriving people by not doing everything in your power to get the word out.”

Don’t feel right about pimping your product that way? According to Pavlina, that’s your gut trying to tell you something’s wrong.

Recognize and acknowledge the real, down-to-earth benefits and what they can actually do for people. And if the benefits are too weak to give you the feeling that marketing is an ethical duty, then stop your practice of junk marketing, and listen to what your conscience has been trying to tell you all along.

24 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Warren 15 Aug 05

Not convinced on this one.

Dan Boland 15 Aug 05

That’s pretty much how I feel marketing should be as well. When it comes down to it, if you help someone save, whether it’s money, time, resources, or their own sanity, that’s all that matters. You don’t need to rely on gimmicks or buzzwords.

The first example I thought of was Suze Orman. A lot of people are down on Suze, probably because her advice isn’t rocket science. But all I know is that she’s the reason I’m getting my family’s finances on a better track than it was on before. She’s turned her expertise into an incredibly lucrative business, but I genuinely get the feeling that she wants people to have better lives, and life is a lot more enjoyable when your finances aren’t in the toilet.

Alexandre Simard 15 Aug 05

The signification of the word “marketing” has slowly devolved to “ads + PR”. Originally, marketing was also about the design of the product (the most important of the 4 P’s). Obviously, to “drink your own Kool-Aid”, and be able to practice the form of marketing mentioned above, you need to “eat your own dog food” first. A lot of marketing is now done with little to no hands-on knowledge of the product marketed, which is what makes it hollow.

Sam 15 Aug 05

(In the last paragraph you said “write” when you meant “right.” sorry, pet peeve.)

Douglas Livingstone 15 Aug 05

Hmm, advocacy meets marketing.

Zellyn Hunter 15 Aug 05

The first example I thought of was religious proselytizing.

Ryan M 15 Aug 05

Oh great. There goes the neighborhood. Soon we’ll have picketers telling me I MUST buy their product, or I’m going to hell. Thanks Mr Pavlina…

Fintan 15 Aug 05

As I understand it that’s called beliving your own lies. :D

Mr Joel Dueck 15 Aug 05

Ryan, you’re talking about Apple right? We’ve had that for awhile now.

I still don’t own an ipod and I’m probably going to burn for it, according to the viral marketers of the age.

Christopher Fahey 15 Aug 05

Fintan, yeah, I agree. I mean, what’s so “ethical” about pushing a product simply because you beleive in it? If the product sucks, it’s unethical to sell it, no matter how much you beleive in it.

I think Matt’s first sentence is a little misleading. If you have a bad product, you do have a duty to shut up and to not bother the world with your deceptive marketing. But if you have a good product, there’s no ethical imperitive that says you have to market it. Nor should there be any need to try to make an effort to convince yourself of the value. You either have a good product or not. No need to get religious about it.

Dan Boland 15 Aug 05

Christopher: I take the advice more as a mindset for marketing the product than the literal interpretation, meaning it’s not as though you’re an asshole if you don’t push a product, you just have to think that way in order to market it the best way possible. And I certainly don’t get a religious vibe from it. But, that’s the beauty of interpretation.

Oh, and sorry for turning all the Google ads to S—e O—-n. Let’s try this…

Christopher Fahey 15 Aug 05

Dan, I sometimes think that people who give advice about marketing and use the word “ethics” in such advice probably don’t make a distinction between literal interpretation and metaphorical how-to tips, i.e., between the Kool Aid and good clean regular water. By using the word “ethics”, they’re trying to make marketers feel like their work is something bigger and more important than just pure commerce. The word “evangelist” in our industry was intended to be make people feel like the ideas being promulgated were actually important. There’s a fine line, for sure, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s a little self-aggrandizing for a marketing person to claim that they’re making the world a better place.

Ryan M 15 Aug 05

“Ryan, you�re talking about Apple right? We�ve had that for awhile now”

Ha ha. Yeah, that’s true. Sure, Apple’s an example of this, in a way, although the evangelists are the consumers, and not the company itself.

Benjy 15 Aug 05

The hardest part of this is determining a true value to a potential customer. Sure, when we’re taking dollars saved by an accountant it’s pretty clear cut. But to quantify the benefits of a work of art, an Audi, or organic fruit it is decidedly more difficult. The idea of perceived value isn’t factored into the discussion. What would that discussion look like if I told Jay that I sold Audis? Am I unethical for not trying to convince somebody of the pure joy of driving an Audi? Or am I unethical if I do because ultimately that Kia for 1/4 the price will still get them from Point A to Point B.

Eric 15 Aug 05

If your product is truly helpful to people, then you have an ethical duty to tell them about it. You have to do them the favor of marketing it.

If that’s true, then spamming them is justifiable, no?

Jeff 16 Aug 05

That Suze Orman site sucks - within one click from her homepage, I was being told to sign up for her free service, so she can tell me what my first action step should be. One click later I was at a complete dead end - no way to sign up without an access code that was supposed to be sent in the mail, and no way to request one.

That’s one site I won’t be visiting again.

Shawn Oster 17 Aug 05

That folks is why I believe you should allow me into your home for just 15 minutes so I can help you to allow Jesus into your heart for a lifetime (while supplies last, not valid with any other offers, please see the Devil for the details).

The other side of marketing is making sure that when people have heard your spiel and they still aren’t interested you respect that and don’t bother them again. I get along just fine with the guy that comes to my door selling God, I politely say thanks, but no thanks and all is well. It’s when he comes back with the Soul Ram-Scoop to blundgeon me with scripture that I get upset. Same with ads plastered all over every surface, in the corner of my TV, tattoo’d on people’s heads, worked in plot-destroying ways into movies, web-ads that blink and burn and dance.

If you are going to pimp your product do it in style, not like some wanna-be pimp, and walk away from the johns that aren’t into it, no muss, no fuss, remember, there’s one born every minute and they are just down the street. Or put another way, get your word out there for others to decide to consume, don’t shove it down their throat and try to make them chew.

Wesley Walser 17 Aug 05

Darn, I thought this was going to be an article about greenwashing, I was interested to see what you guys though as designers.

Adrian 18 Aug 05

I broadly agree. If your product or service really is that good, people deserve to hear about it. I’ve got two provisos:

1. Your marketing practices themselves must be ethical. No matter how good you think your product is, there are respectful ways and disrespectful ways of approaching the market. People aren’t idiots for deciding they don’t want your product after all. This, broadly, is the mistake of many religious evangelists. Having convinced themselves of the absolute truth of their belief and that what’s apparently good for them must be good for everyone else, they find it hard to relate honestly to people who aren’t interested (or worse, support a different religion/brand).

2. You have to be brutally honest. Is your product really that good? Is it only good because you created it? Only good because it pays your wages? If it’s not, you (or whoever) needs to go back to the drawing board. You can honestly, ethically market a product that “does what it says on the tin”, no more, no less. Nothing wrong with that. Most products and services work on that basis. An honest, unremarkable promise, fulfilled. But you don’t want to zealously evangelise your window cleaning services just because you turn up on time with a soapy sponge.

As for the businesses with cult-like followings, they only get to be like that, and stay like that, because internally they’re open marketplaces of contrary ideas and heresies. Good designers ruthlessly trash their own products to improve them in private so that they can sell them with a clear conscience in public.

Aaron Blohowiak 27 Aug 05

The irony of this being mentioned on the blog of a design firm who claims “100% of our clients are reference” escaped everyone else?

Joe Foote 12 Sep 05

This post, and the original, are GOOD - if you can’t get passionate about your product and you don’t REALLY think that your prospects are going to benefit from purchasing, you’ve got it all wrong.

I can’t think of a better way (in terms of ethics and efficacy) to sell than being excited about what you’re selling, and having a firm conviction that what you’re offering is going to help the person to whom you are offering it.

Life is too short to peddle products you don’t believe in!