The Business Owners Prime Directive: Marketing Must Be Ethical

Marketing & Writing

I have been in the marketing world for what feels like a very long time, although it’s not quite even been a decade yet.

In that time, I have learned much in the way of tactics and strategies.

But one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is this: Marketing that people don’t want or like will not win.

Oh sure, in the short term, even the peskiest of marketers will see success. What I am talking about isΩ≈ building something that will last.

Marketing must be ethical. If it is not, you are violating the single most important aspect of your business’ success—trust.

Business advances at the speed of trust. Break that trust, and you cannot build something like will last.

You might ask: Who gets to define what is “ethical?”

Fair question.

Basic human decency determines a lot. A funeral home with corpses in its advertisements would not only be creepy, but just plain wrong.

It’s not always so clear cut, though.

When it’s not obvious, the answer is: the customer. The customer decides what is ethical.

Facebook has experienced tumultuous times due to the fact that Apple has cracked down on its ability to track users using the apps on their devices.

As a result, we learned a few things.

One of the things we learned is that customers have overwhelmingly decided they did not want to sacrifice their privacy under the pretense of “more relevant ads.”

Give me a break.

NorthMac had just started making a foray into paid advertising, and then that happened. Could we have continued down that road using different tactics, assumptions, etc?

Sure.

But we decided not to continue pursuing it, and instead, to go where the customers have already told us they want to be.

Customers want to discover your content in the places they are hanging around already: TikTok, YouTube, Internet searches, etc.

Nobody wants to see an ad for vacuum cleaners in the middle of their cousin’s baby’s birthday picture and their best friend’s trip to Krispy Kreme the day before.

But if “The Vacuum Guys” (no idea if that’s a thing, btw) had posted a super helpful hack for cleaning their home and they came across it on TikTok, they would be grateful someone took the time to share that info.

See the difference?

It matters a lot, and when the overwhelming majority speak to how they want to be interacted with on the Internet, we just ethically listen and adapt.

The market demands it.

About Me

 
Hey, I’m Steve Schramm. I write about marketing, design, business strategy, and productivity. This blog is my personal “cookbook” to help you design a healthier business through self-directed learning.

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