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My job is to look at the world and wonder... "How can we make things better?"
Anyone who knows me is clear on where I stand on ethics in marketing.
I see a lot of dishonesty, manipulation, and pressure tactics being used online — and it pisses me off!
What’s more, I’ve learned I’m not alone. And this is really exciting!
Just check out my posts on Ryan Deiss’s bullshit, his other bullshit, or this from Frank Kern. Notice they all have a LOT of comments? That’s because there are a lot of pissed off people. Perhaps you’re one of them.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken with in the past few weeks who have told me about paying good money for some course.
The more I’ve thought about it, the more it seems that the real problem is not that most marketers are cheats.
The real problem is simply that the ones who are make the most noise.
The picture in my head is of one of those classic cowboy movies, where the bandits take to the streets and the good folk of the town all quickly bolt their shutters and hide indoors until the gunfight is over.
You see, there are only a few bandits. But they’re loud and dominant, and that makes it seem like the town is lawless.
But… I believe there are a lot more of the good folk! We are in the majority. The ones who want to trade fairly and with integrity, earn an honest living and live in peace.
Three years ago, I dreamed of setting up some kind of Ethical Internet Marketing Association. (I wrote a blog post about it here. However I was busy with other projects, and it never happened. Maybe it wasn’t the right time. Maybe I didn’t care enough back then.
I deeply believe that ideas have a Right Time. In fact, that’s one of the big lessons I have learned in my series of “Cracking Content” interviews. If you want to make a real difference, you need to be intimately connected with your Tribe, your right sector of the market, so that when you feel a powerful idea emerge in you, it’s likely to be popping for other people at the same time.
Well, I think that NOW is the time for ethical marketing to get a voice!
A few weeks ago, after meeting with a few like-minded marketers, I was inspired to revisit that idea of some way that consumers (which includes all of us) could more safely navigate the minefield of Internet Marketing.
I reckoned, what if we developed a code of practice for ethical marketing? Then those of us who wish to show the world that we stand for fair business can say, “We subscribe to that!” and customers who want to deal with ethical marketers can see our declaration.
So that’s what I’ve done. I have spent the past few weeks building the foundation for The Ethical Marketing Group, and it took its first blinking steps into the light today!
Here’s how the website looks now. You can see that, at the time of writing, we have just two members.
This is literally day one, so there’s still a lot of work to do!
The core idea is the Code of Practice. Any vendors — whether you’re an info-marketer, or you promote products and services, or even market a brick & mortar business online — all of us can simply say, “Look, we follow this.”
And you can do that for free. Just grab a line of HTML code, and put the “Supporter” badge on your website!
There are also three different levels of membership, which show increasing commitment to ethical practice, backed up with support from myself and a small group of ethically-minded marketing consultants I’m building.
(We’re going to have lots more different badges that you can use on your websites and email templates.)
So, if you want to do it yourself, you can! If you want a listing on the Ethical Marketing Group website, you can get that too. And if you would like ten hours of consulting from experts, to help you keep your marketing compliant AND effective, no problem! We’re here to help you to do whatever you want.
Now, for the first time, consumers can easily verify anyone’s level of commitment to ethical marketing standards.
And if you’re a Member (does not apply to Supporters), visitors to your website will shortly be able to submit a message to the EMG if they think your marketing process does not comply with the agreed Code of Practice. In that case, our consultants will do what we can to work towards a positive resolution, learn from the experience, and try to improve all our processes.
(When you work through my draft Code of Practice, you may find it challenging. I did! It has made me go back through my websites to make changes. No one said that doing the right thing is easy. But I believe it’s worth it.)
It is worth saying that the Ethical Marketing Group does not set out to be the ethics police! After all, what is “ethical marketing” anyway? It is actually quite a challenging exercise to sit down and write out what it means to you. So our Code of Practice is there simply by agreement.
We don’t wish to say that we’re ethical and anyone who isn’t part of group is not. We’re just saying to the world, “Here, look at the standard that we declare we are striving to meet.”
And, of course, that standard is bound to evolve. We will be continually testing it, improving it, adding or removing pieces. But that’s how things get better.
Let’s make things better — together!
I don’t know if you are as inspired by ethical marketing practices as I am. But if you are, I would request that you check out the ways in which you can be part of this movement. I hope there’s a solution that fits for everyone.
Do YOU want to be a Founder Member?
If you do wish to join, I have discounted all the membership fees by one third until January. That makes you a Founder Member, and you keep that discount for the duration of your subscription.
(Every member gets a sequential member number, so the next person to sign up with be Member #3, which I think is pretty cool.)
In addition, if you sign up for Annual membership, you pay for only eight months, so you save another third that way too.
Note: If you choose to join, I will assign the membership numbers in strict order of sign-up. It may take me up to 24 hours to get your listing on the website, so please be patient. Thanks.
We had a great 90-minute call on Blab today, where a group of us tackled some pretty serious questions, and arrived at some conclusions!
I don’t like writing these blog posts, but someone has to.
I got another email from Ryan Deiss, who we all know is the Fresh Prince of marketing bullshit.
Just check this out. (It’s not the whole email. I’ll spare you that.)
Okay, there are a few important things to clarify here.
That makes him a scammer, in my book at least.
Deiss, you’re a lying scammer!
(Glad we’ve cleared that up.)
Now, by all means subscribe to these guys’ email lists, because there is a lot to learn, and I have seen some really excellent articles on Ryan’s website.
I’m not saying for a minute he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing. But be careful to treat any claims of “universal effectiveness” with a heavy dose of skepticism.
(See also this example, which I think is dishonest and misleading.)
Unfortunately, the world of marketing is fuzzier and dirtier and less predictable than purveyors of these cure-alls are prepared to admit. Hey, fuzzy doesn’t sell!
I can say, with confidence, that there is no pattern or model or template that works every time. (Anyone who says there is is a lying scumbag.)
The right message, delivery, tone, and length… all these things depend on who you’re talking to, what you want your brand to mean to them, and what you’re trying to sell.
And there’s no formula for that. I’m in the middle of writing a book about how to create killer content, and the rabbit hole is a lot deeper than Ryan Deiss would have you believe!
You know we all have very finely-tuned bullshit meters these days (and it’s a good job, because there’s a lot of bullshit around). That means we’re getting very good at spotting when someone’s trying to sell to us and immediately switching off.
As I’ve suggested, very often, the best way to get your message noticed is to ignore what everyone else is doing, and do something quite different. Even if received wisdom tells you that X works, don’t do it. Why? Because if everyone’s doing it, your market is likely already to be switching off.
Truly successful content is not formulaic. I haven’t cracked the whole code yet, but I can tell you, at the very least, that it requires two things:
You know what else? The key to your most powerful content is within you, right here, right now. No one else can figure it out for you. And no marketing wiseguy can sell you the answer. Just remember that.
Please watch this space. Let’s keep this conversation going.
If, like me, you feel deep down that there’s something deeply wrong in the way online marketing information is shared in this world, this post is for you!
Here’s a quick update (17 minutes) to bring you guys up to date about recent thoughts about how Internet Marketing is hollow and broken.
Plus there’s news about the three Open Source Marketing systems we’re starting to roll out, which promise to turn the whole IM world on its head.