“Aww, it’s just marketing…”
You probably heard people use marketing as a derogatory term.
Admit it, you probably did too.
You can probably think of many examples when marketing wasn’t practiced ethically. It’s true that one doesn’t need to go far to find them. Spam emails that lack “unsubscribe” buttons, misleading packaging, annoying pop-up, or video ads that you cannot skip.
Marketing can go wrong for all the same reasons business can go wrong: misaligned incentives, short-term focus, and tunnel vision.
But business is not inherently and inevitably net-negative to society – quite the contrary. So isn’t marketing.
The thing is not all marketing is created equal. It’s just that some people in marketing make the wrong decisions. Just like some engineers ignore safety standards, some doctors overprescribe medications, and some businesses pollute the environment.
Essentially, marketing is simply helping organizations serve more customers.
More specifically, marketing is about finding the right customers who actually need your product, using their feedback to make the product better, and consistently communicating useful information through the right channels and at scale.
With this in mind, I decided to outline a few high-level principles of ethical marketing.
Principles of Ethical Marketing
- Create value before capturing value.
- Long-term over short-term optimization.
- Customer feedback over company politics.
- Educate customers instead of misleading them.
- Build products that people want instead of selling the ones you have.
- Target customers who can benefit from the product instead of targeting everyone.
- Measure NPS, retention, virality, and product usage in addition to ROI, revenue, and growth metrics.
- Consider the impact of marketing decisions on employees, other companies, society, government, and the environment.
Here you go, a small manifesto of sorts.