FOUR THINGS GOOD DIGITAL MARKETERS WOULD NEVER DO
According to the CIM...
Ethical marketing is about continued standards of conduct, not a singular goal or fixed set of principles. Ethical marketing might be founded on principles, but it must be structured around conduct.
There is so much you could write about when you think about this topic. Far too much for me to fit into one blog right now. It's a vast subject, which is getting more complex as time goes on - due partly to to the ever-expanding conditions and tactics we find ourselves using in digital.
The 'rights and wrongs' of marketing to individuals and organisations; whether it's online or offline, B2C or B2B - the principles of adhering to good practice, and the moral conscience to 'do right' by your stakeholders should be top of mind for any marketer worth their salt.
'High standards of conduct' is certainly something I've always tried to stick to myself. I don't know how many times over the past decade I've been asked whether we can 'x and y' because it will 'get quicker / cheaper / 'better' results', and I've had to push back. Yeah, you're not popular with your colleagues for doing so sometimes, but actually you're just doing your job, and doing it right. On top of that, you're probably saving your employer's reputation being negatively dented, and mitigating against anything from a fine to full on legal action.
Having focused solely on digital for the past few years, I've pondered many times on different situations that I've witnessed / been drawn into (sometimes unwittingly). I've discovered that there are a multitude of ways in which marketers can exploit practices - and circumstances can be so multi-faceted and complicated.
And it's not just marketers I'm talking about when it comes to marketing to people - I've seen everyone from managing directors and senior managers to technical experts and sales people intentionally (or unintentionally) employing and allowing bad practices, and bending the rules to suit themselves.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that all digital marketers are like this - they're not - but I'm willing to bet that, like many other professionals with a field, some will have less scruples than others when it comes to stretching the rules. There, I've said it - we're not all angels.
This is just a small selection of situations I can remember from the recent past, and I'm sure you, the reader, have some similar stories to tell.
1. STEALING CONTENT AND PASSING IT OFF AS YOUR OWN CONTENT
Plagiarism online; it's pretty rife. But if you've lifted someone's work and put it on your website, get ready to be found out via one of the many many tools there are to pull in this stuff for monitoring purposes.
People just don't seem get that you will get rumbled sooner or later if you steal someone's copy/image and pass it off as your own, promote it as your own on social media, or republish it on your site as your own. It's someone's intellectual property, and it's just not cricket. If you're a digital bod, you should already know that.
Also, beware of the public backlash if you dare to do this in full view, and in front of the original author. This very situation happened to me a few months ago, where I posted something on LinkedIn in response to all the leadership nonsense being spouted on there; particularly in regards to that bloody gang of wolves photo. *rolls eyes hard*
Within about an hour, some 'peer' of mine had copied the WHOLE THING and reposted it on his LinkedIn feed. Cue many people I'm connected to calling him out on it.
Cue him taking it down, probably feeling a little embarrassed....
2. SENDING A MARKETING MAILER TO SOMEONE WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION, BECAUSE YOU've LIFTED THEIR EMAIL FROM SOMEWHERE
Of course it's great to have loads of people to mail, but if you're a good marketer, you're not comfortable mailing everyone whether they want to hear from you or not.
I've been keeping a record of all the emails I receive to my personal email address from companies that have sent to me without my permission - i.e. I didn't opt in to receive an email communication from x company - they've connected to me on LinkedIn and added me to a mailing list or, I've dealt with them in good faith about something, and they've added me to their mailing list without asking me.
I was tempted to start a name and shame list on this site, except I didn't want to provide a free backlink to these companies.
These are digital marketers who are fine with bombarding you with mailers about all sorts of tripe. "what utter irrelevant piffle can I bleat on at you about when it comes to our agency, and who works here?", "can we invite you to this event which has nothing to do with you or what you do?", and "we now have some branded mugs in the kitchen cupboard".
It really is a waste of time. I must be unsubscribing from about four or five of these each day. What's worse - some of these mailers are uglier than sin, and have the look and feel of a man who has been punched in the face multiple times.
Bring forth GDPR. Immediately.
3. ERRORS IN JUDGEMENT
The example I have to show you now, is bad. It's probably the kind of situation that's happened elsewhere against other tragic events.
This example focuses on Grenfell Tower. I'm sure I don't need to say any more to set the scene with you about that horrific event, and the severe loss of life (allegedly) caused by some iffy cladding. During the peak of media coverage, I happened to come across the below on my mobile:
There's a re-marketing advert set against the news article.
I clicked through a few times to check I wasn't imagining the whole thing - the advert was indeed promoting some (timber) cladding for a UK-based company. Did they know what they were doing? Was this an error of oversight, and totally unintentional?
As digital marketers, part of our classic 'make-up' if you like, is the requirement to be reactive and flexible when it comes to channel, content or campaign-based situations. Whether this company had hoped to run these ads against this particular news story is irrelevant - the fact is, they should have known better and someone, somewhere- a digital marketer - could and should have done something about it through the platform settings.
4. TRYING TO STEAL ANOTHER MARKETER'S THUNDER
Spend hours writing a blog, which for once, happens to neatly tie into something you can offer as a service - spend time publishing it and promoting it - and then someone comes along and tries to mount it like a horse, and ride it off in a direction of their choosing.
Has this happened to you? It's really irritating - trust me. I've met so many lovely digital marketers on LinkedIn, I'm glad to say that this doesn't happen too often:
There are loads of digital freelancers out there, and far more customers to serve besides that.
So be classy, and build your own thunder generator.