For nearly 13 years, I’ve created content and copy for small businesses. Helping business owners find the right words to communicate with their customers brings me great joy, and I consider myself lucky to make a living doing what I love. While in the marketing world, I’ve seen countless marketing tactics come in and out of vogue. Every marketing seminar I’ve attended has been replete with new strategies, technologies, and “networking opportunities.” Yet not a single one has addressed what I consider to be the elephant in the room: marketing ethics.

This Blog

This blog will tackle the challenge of defining and refining marketing ethics. In it, I will explore white hat and black hat tactics. I’ll ask questions that may not have answers (at least not yet). I’ll pose real-life dilemmas and offer real-life solutions that are both fiscally and ethically responsible. And just as writers must kill their darlings, I’ll invite you, the reader, to challenge the ideas and beliefs that I hold most sacred. The posts to come will explore the contemporary role of marketers, the science of persuasion, and the philosophical and psychological implications of consumerism in order to more holistically define the discipline of marketing ethics.

It’s a mouthful, I know. And quite ambitious. But it’s work worth doing. The impact of marketing on our society today is undeniable. (The recent Fyre Festival debacle is a perfect example of unethical marketing practices taken to the extreme.) As marketing professionals, we hold great power over our audience—impacting their daily lives, moods, and desires—and with great power comes great responsibility. Asking hard questions about something that has such a profound effect on our culture is merely due diligence. Admittedly, much of my passion for the topic of marketing ethics is spurred by my own selfish desire to sleep soundly at night. I want to know that I’m making the world a better place. If you’re reading this, then chances are you do, too.

When Do We Start?

This blog has been a long time coming. The identification of black hat and white hat tactics is nothing new. Still, I’m excited to jump in midstream and contribute something meaningful to the conversation. The best time to start may have been 13 years ago, but the second best time is now.

Join the Conversation

8 Comments

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback, Cher! I’m certainly not perfect (no one is), but I do strive to model the ethical standards that I believe all businesses should follow. As a business owner, truly caring for your customers is the first step to developing a strong relationship of trust and partnership.

  1. Things that don’t come out of vogue are being honest, do a good work and help others! If we have a opportunity to do something we should do it the right way. As an aspiring web developer I think technology exists to help people and marketing techniques should communicate and create connections between business and people and not only focus on “leads”, “sales” and “consumerism”… We see a lot of big companies changing their way of making business and being more ethical. Making the world a better place is all that matters, or at least it should be… Great post!

    1. Thank you for your detailed feedback, Sandra! I completely agree. In fact, keep an eye out for a post about the term, “lead.” (Coming soon!) I’d like to question our use of that word. Does it dehumanize the people we are trying to serve? Words have power, and the language we use to talk about our clients has a significant impact on the way we interact with them.

  2. I’m excited to read what you have to write about ethics in marketing. I don’t know much about the topic, but ethics on the web in general are an interest of mine. I look forward to learning a great deal!

    1. Thanks for your comment, David! Although I’ve thought a lot about this topic over the years, I’m excited to really flesh it out here. If you’re interested, Seth Godin wrote an excellent blog post on “permission marketing” back in 2008: https://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/01/permission-mark.html/

      This post had a significant impact on the way I view marketing, and I still refer back to it today. It doesn’t contain the phrase “marketing ethics,” but it is certainly a foundation for the concept.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Lauren! Your blog inspired me to finally get this started. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on future posts 🙂

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