November 16 2015

Announcing the Ethical Marketing Group



This is me looking pissed off

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.

  • Several people have said the content they have received simply doesn’t match what was promised. Some of the braver ones have demanded refunds.
  • On another course the guru didn’t even bother to show up, and left all the attendees to do their homework and critique each other’s work in a social media group! (I understand that was because he was going through a bankruptcy, which says a lot about the claims some of these guys make!)
  • Other courses are nothing more than upselling mechanisms, designed to see how deep attendees’ pockets (and trust) extend.

The Real Problem

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.

Now Is The Time To Stand Together

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 Ethical Marketing Group website
The Ethical Marketing Group website

How Does the Ethical Marketing Group Work?

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!

Is It Right For You?

[pullquote align=”right”]Do YOU want to be a Founder Member? [/pullquote]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.

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.

Recording of Blab meet, 17th November 2015

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!

Download MP3 audio from Blab

About the author 

Ben Hunt

My job is to look at the world and wonder... "How should we live?"

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    1. Hi Terry. You can put the Volunteer badge on your sites, but your prospects would see the conflict between what you say and what you do, so you’d look kinda stupid 🙂

      1. Hi Ben, yeah, but I reckon I could live with looking kinda stupid if I was raking in $US10M a year from the ‘sheeple’! 🙂

        Seriously though, is there going to be any way to police the system, or is it going to be on some sort of an honour system? Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% behind you with the idea, but I think it needs a lot of brainstorming yet.

        1. Hi Terry. Yes, we will have systems to back up the assurances that we offer the world. The higher the level of membership, the stronger and more proactive the support and the closer our consultants will work with members to assure compliance with the Code of Practice.

  1. I’ve implemented the ideas of Ryan Deiss, Frank Kern and Eben and they’ve served me well in my speaking business. You have no idea what you’re talking about and this whole “ethical marketing committee” thing you’re trying to make sounds like pure statist bullshit. It’s never gonna work. If you want a job in politics go into politics.

    1. Logan, that’s great if you’ve learned things that have served you well. I’m not saying for a moment that their courses do not have useful value, or that they can’t help you make money.

      What I’m saying is that their own marketing methods are frequently dubious, specifically that they can resort to lying in order to make sales. Maybe you’re okay with that.

      As you describe my approach as “statist” I’m assuming you would prefer online marketing to remain a lawless frontier land? That’s fine too. I’m not trying to push this on anyone who doesn’t want to be part of it. My goal is to help give a voice to those of us (the quiet majority I believe) who want to trade fairly with each other, to make money and build businesses without resorting to lies or trickery.

    2. By the way, Logan, I really appreciated your “Greed is Good” presentation on your website, where you distinguish between “good greed” (the desire to get a lot by giving more than you get) and “bad greed” (where you take more than you give). It seems there’s a bit of you that definitely appreciates ethics in marketing.

      1. Don’t get me wrong, you seem like a good person. I just didn’t like how you attacked Kern and Ryan Deiss as they were the reason I nearly doubled my water resort business as well as my speaking business.

        I do vouch for ethical marketing but I also understand that people need to be inspired to buy something by showing them the thing they’re getting and delivering it in a way that actually gets attention.

        This is why I love Kern and Ryan’s stuff. It works extremely well and is ethical in my books. I took my property from 6m to 10m in 1 year just by listening to them. I’ve also started a marketing consulting business and I already have 2 big clients in the Legal market. I’ve acquired those clients using Kern’s model.

        (By the way if you’re wondering how I do all this stuff, I’m a big believer in outsourcing/employing.)

        I don’t know man I think you just have the wrong perception of these guys. You’re attacking the wrong people in my opinion. You’re probably better off attacking the biz opp market. The “here’s a system that can make you millions by selling this system” market.

        In my opinion, that’s the unethical market.

        1. Thanks Logan. I hear your points, but I think that the way many information products are marketed today puts them squarely in the same camp as the biz-op crap.

          I’m curious… Do you lie to your prospects in order to part them with their money? Clearly, some people are okay with that. Me, I’m not okay with it.

          1. I don’t lie. I do place a sense of scarcity in my campaigns though. Not bullshit scarcity though, it’s very real.

            For example when we have x amount of rooms available for a special event we’re throwing on, I’ll make sure to put that in the broadcast.

            If we sold out on a given day last year, I’ll make sure to tell that story in a broadcast this year. It’s manipulative but I believe all selling is manipulative. Even the so called “branding” kind.

            And although it’s manipulative, it’s actually true.

            Like I said, Kern is one of the most respectful guys in the space and most of his clients will vouch for him.

            He does run evergreen webinar campaigns but that doesn’t mean the campaign is a lie. He truly does only take in a certain amount of clients because he works with them personally. So the scarcity he uses in his emails aren’t “lies.” It’s honesty.

            He fills up a room for a given time frame and once he fills up that room he has another time frame at a later date that he fills up using his evergreen campaign.

            In regards to him saying “this is new” and it being not new, I’ve not seen that personally and I’m on his list. Although I consider a new strategy to be no older than a year. Once a year passes then I don’t consider it new and I think that’s Kern’s philosophy as well.

            But again, just because it’s an evergreen webinar and he says it’s new, that doesn’t mean it’s a lie. He actually is there live. If you’ve been on any of his webinars, he uses a hybrid model. Prerecorded video presentation, live Q&A afterward. He even mentions that he does this.
            And when he says the strategy is new, I’m pretty sure he means it’s less than a year old. And just because he says it’s new every other week in his evergreen campaigns, that doesn’t mean it’s a lie. I don’t believe a strategy is old after 2 weeks.

            In terms of his “copy & paste” campaigns that he sells. He doesn’t just use the same copy. (That’s not very smart.) He adjusts the copy according to your business. Pretty simple stuff but very effective. I understand that you may believe that since it’s copy and paste, the stories aren’t even real and I do agree with you. However Kern does mention that it’s better to use your own real stories.

            The reason he has that type of service is because a lot of business owners just don’t feel like doing the copy work. And to be honest, if they’re not out pointing a gun at people threatening to take their money like the government does then I can care less.

            I know I wouldn’t do it because I enjoy telling my life stories. (It’s an ego thing.)

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