Marketing Ethics: You Can’t Polish A Turd

The internet is a platform that serves a lot of purposes.

  • You can order pizza
  • You can set up business meetings and deals
  • You can keep in touch with the people you love
  • Most importantly you can order pizza

You can also make some cold hard cash. God, I always loved that expression: Cold Hard Cash. There is just something so absolute about money. You have it or you don’t.

One method of making money that has been very popular since the very beginning of the internet is affiliate marketing.

The definition of affiliate: a person or organization officially attached to a larger body.

Marketing has historically been outsourced to large agencies that have connections and networks in all the right places:

  • Newspaper
  • Radio
  • TV networks
  • Movies
  • Billboards

Basically, all the media that massive amounts of the population plugs into. Lots of eyes. Lots of attention. Lots of buying power.

Well, late in the late 90s came another gigantic media force: The Internet.

The amazing thing about the internet, and why it shook things up for the marketing world, is the fact that it is open to contribution and reception from anyone with an internet connection.

Though there are forces about that are after this kind of freedom nowadays, historically, the internet has been a place where you can freely receive information and also contribute whatever you want to contribute. There were network entities that would give you exposure as long as you are relevant to what the user experience requires.

Basically, more people have access to this media and more people have the ability to create content.

At the end of day, the “free market” of the internet took over and a lot of people were given a chance at attracting attention (marketing) that would never have with conventional media.

What a great opportunity to sell people stuff, right?!

Since anyone can sell stuff and anyone can contribute, it was natural that marketing would eventually be open-source.

I could holler at Amazon and tell them that, through the media platform of the internet, I can sell their electric toothbrushes. They would gladly pay me for doing this, and therefore I accrue a commission.


Marketing Ethics

I always wondered what those business students in colleges learned when they took a major in marketing.

Marketing always seemed like it was the cop- out major, you know? It was much more in the “creative” niche so it just seemed like anyone could go in and get that degree and get out.

Creativity is, after all, subjective, so how are you going to evaluate that?

Just from my own trials and tribulations in this digital marketing industry, I’m starting to notice what doesn’t work as much as what does work. I guess that is the case whenever we do try to get skillful in any domain.

Turns out, marketing is something that just works, or doesn’t, just like any of the fields in the STEM departments.

Turns out, there are rules and ethics just like any other business practice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very well still in the beginning of my journey in digital marketing, but I’ve already noticed one huge glaring issue that is plaguing my endeavors, and probably, though I can’t be sure, other marketers as well.

The issue of trying to get expedient money.

Expedient Money

Not a technical term, but expedient money means trying to make money fast. Trying to make money without putting in the necessary hard work and honesty into the product.

In the case of marketers, the product will be the content of the advertisement. Whether it is the advertorial, the copy, the landing page, the design.

Expedient Money In Local Marketing

I’ve been devoting a fair amount of my time to acquiring local clients for my marketing services.

This includes coordinating content for their site, newsletters, ads, and website design. It is really fulfilling to work with local businesses and grow my in-real-life connections. Read about more on my approach on local business marketing.

Plus, the money is really good. I’m hoping to make a fair amount of money from helping local businesses acquire new clients, and at the same time reinvest that money to expanding my own business.

Well, all of a sudden, I’m getting an urge to acquire as many clients as possible. Trying to sell myself as the messiah for their business, as I can market for them and they will blow up and become a huge entity in the city in their niche.

This sounds very ideological and when things sound ideological it always means you have to start question it.

it is tempting to make a pitch to businesses that I’m not all impressed about. Businesses that have a lot of work to do before they should start thinking about expanding their marketing efforts.

Maybe they need better employees that provide better customer service. The location might not be ideal. The product they sell itself might not be of acceptable quality.

A business like this might be in the throes of desperation and might just purchase my services in the last attempt to save their business.

Well, digital marketing services work, that’s been proven.

But they’ve worked because they successfully put a great product or a great business in front of the right people. My belief is that there is no right people for a bad product.

In other words, you can’t polish a turd.

A great way to create a bad reputation is to market horrible services to the public, and when they do engage with the services they have a bad experience. Now, your services don’t seem to work because nobody comes back to this business, and eventually the business is back where it was before you started marketing for them.

In order to have a sustainable marketing business we must also partner with what we truly believe to be sustainable businesses.

Expedient Money In Affiliate Marketing

The other popular way digital marketers are profiting from the internet is with affiliate marketing.

Using the media platform that the internet provides, a digital marketer can create many forms of media to give value to potential customers.

For example, an online university system that I promote myself, teaches a student how to become an authority in a niche and provide information and guidance for their audience via websites. Since their audience will be making their purchasing decisions from the student, they will also purchase the product from the web page, and the student will be awarded a commission.

There are many ways that this type of sales interaction happens. It can be a podcast that provides the value, or it could be vlog content. It could be an entire movie that you’ve produced.

The ethical issue arises when a marketer as attained a large audience, and therefore the audience will be sensitive to any kind of purchasing influence that the marketer makes.

It is therefore a good general rule of thumb to only promote a product if you believe it can provide your customer with value.

For example, you can promote a weight-loss product that promises its users drastic results in very little time. Although the emotional impulses of their audience will create sales and commissions, it is scientifically unrealistic that weight loss can happen that fast.

In this case, you can make a lot of money really fast, but you’ll also get a huge amount of refunds, before the product itself is eventually washed out of the marketplace.

These types of products are the worst because they only give a small group of people wealth and are not sustainable so that they can promoted forever.

Eventually, the marketing will be only targeting the naive, garnering a bad reputation at the same time. The marketers that were part of the initial launch and promotion will have made a decent amount of money, but most of those who seek this expedient money will waste their money and time.

So Choose Carefully

Your business will be far more sustainable if you consistently partner up with businesses of high quality and reputation.

Even if these products are more difficult to promote, the work will be worth it in the end because you will have developed a more stable business.

Make sure you seek businesses that are ready to rise or your marketing endeavors will not be successful.

When promoting products, make sure the products are something you would use too if you had the same problem as those who your product serves.

You are genuinely guiding someone to something they already want.

Hopefully you’ve enjoy reading this article. Just me pondering on doing business in the marketing world. Any comments will be appreciated and replied to! Let me know what you think.









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