Marketing and Ethics

October 17, 2007 by George Vigil in

Some real questions arise when discussion turns to marketing and ethics.

One hears the phrase "survival of the fittest" in marketing and advertising, and has to ponder what is meant by it.

The phrase conjures up the concept of walking through the marketing jungle with product or service in hand — and being leapt upon and eaten by a tiger or a more "fit" person. In other words, appended to the idea of "survival of the fittest" is the notion that there is a dangerous environment out there such that one might think that everything and everyone is out there ready to swallow one whole. And since things are so "dire" or "dangerous," one might need to resort to activities calculated to be dire or dangerous enough in order to "fight back" and survive — not, of course, having differentiated between a real attack and the general notion that everything and everyone is out to get you.

How does this apply to marketing and ethics?

Marketing is the activity of creating a product/service, packaging it, and selling it over and over. One hopes that one is marketing something that is useful to society — that way society improves or survives better. Things go better for everyone, and you personally feel better about yourself because you obtain customers and gain friends — and are helping society to grow.

If you are marketing something that is not so good for society, things don't get better, society does not survive so well, and things get worse. And things get worse for you, too. One loses customers and gains enemies. There are laws that had to be written and put into effect in society in order to right the wrongs caused by those who produced and sold products/services that did harm. The harm was actually too much! And thus the laws.

Ideally, it is best if you ask yourself if the product or service you offer is something that will improve things or improve society. If it does, that will certainly help when you go to sell it to society.

If you try to sell a product or service to society that is harmful, or try to sell it by deception or misrepresentation, or if you have to destroy your competition in order to try to dominate by way of the false premise of "survival of the fittest" — or if you hire a company to do the above actions for you — you reap a whirlwind of trouble from society.

How does the above apply to marketing on the Web?

A website is an Internet-based marketing tool that enables you to reach with your sales pitch your different "publics" (the catagories of people who might consume or purchase your product or service). The Internet is growing more and more popular, and is actually a tool of the planetary society! This means a bigger, better and specific method of reaching your "publics" all over the planet and selling to them!

But, although all laws may not yet have caught up with the Internet, sooner or later they will. And, depending on the statute of limitations, it might not be so easy to escape the consequences of producing and selling a product or service that doesn't actually improve society but damages it.

But there's a joker in the deck! If you're doing something wrong and society doesn't correct you so that you will put out a product/service that improves society, you will correct yourself. And that correction is usually pretty stiff! That's because man is basically good!

To quote an appropriate line from the 1984 movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai, Across The 8th Dimension: "Remember! No matter where you go — there you are!"

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