I went to a business conference once where a speaker said that no one is afraid of selling. I remember he then paused, looked around at the audience, and then exclaimed, “People are afraid of failing, not selling! Show me a person who, that if every time they attempted to sell something they succeeded, would say, ‘Nope! Not for me.’” That bit has really stuck with me over the years. At first, I thought it was extremely insightful and, thus, I took it as truth. However, as time went along and the ambitions of success would come and go, I was left with one constant that I realized was more important to resolve beyond successful marketing and that was ethical marketing. Of course, some people just don’t like the idea of selling. In fact, selling, marketing, and advertising are natural taboo topics for most people today, and yet these topics may not be so worthy of the disdain they are given when viewed in the proper light. Here are three points to think about:
Marketing is a Natural Part of Social Interaction
We are always promoting something. Did you like the restaurant you ate at? Did you hate it? Who did you tell about it? Anytime we give an opinion about something or someone, we are marketing. When we give someone directions to a business, we are marketing. If we Facebook or tweet about it, we’ve marketed it. We are all natural marketers. Marketing is never missing. It is always present though quite often not acknowledged.
There is Unethical and Ethical Marketing
This is a no-brainer. Marketing has its bad side when put in the hands of the greedy, the manipulative, and the narcissistic. And yet, marketing is not to blame. Marketing is the wielded weapon of the despot. Marketing can be the shoes that carry a villain to power. However, marketing is no more the villain itself than gasoline is the villain of a car crash. And there are so many examples we have to choose from as to what unethical marketing looks like. Movie and television depictions of these foes can be overwhelming and thus naturally cause all of us to taint the subject. And yet, remembering the first point that marketing is a natural part of social interaction, reminds us that by simply exerting awareness we will recognize that marketing is not, in itself, bad. And yes, there is ethical marketing too: positive and negative ethical marketing. Positive endorses something and negative deters. What makes it ethical of course is not determined by whether or not there is financial gain. Ethics is determined by the moral structure beneath it. Proverbs, for example, provides clear-cut moral structures. If you believe in Natural Law, as I do, then we believe that all men know right from wrong in their hearts. Whether seen from the Bible or from Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, man recognizes morality. Thus, the ethics of marketing depends on the bearer.
Marketing is Not Egotism
Some stray from the topic of marketing because, if you are marketing your business or your name then it may seem like you are arrogant or narcissistic. However, if you have a product or service that you believe in, or if by promoting your name you are putting light on what you are passionate about, then it is not really your ego that is being promoted. The effort of self-promoting for ego and identity has many signs and consequences. That is why it is important to have counsel with men and women of seasoned integrity who can help us with that assessment. Better to heed their counsel than to chance burying the talent because of insecurity. Furthermore, as stated, promotion will be done regardless by us. If you own a business and you are not talking about it, it would be good to remember that the next time you tell someone about your favorite brand of ice cream, you were marketing their business. If we look upon our service, our products, and even our influence in name as gifts or talents then we will be more likely to put our endorsements in their appropriate places, sleeping well at night, knowing that we marketed ethically.