Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Marketing Ethics

Would you do business with a company who lied to you or tricked you? How about a consultant who recommended this approach? How about a consultant who steals intellectual property? How about a consultant who steals the intellectual property of another consultant who recommends lying to and/or tricking your prospects?

Let’s Lie To Prospects?

I read a blog post from a marketer advising marketing professionals to use surveys for lead generation. Was I reading this right? Was this guy telling people to lie?

I re-read the blog post three times and it sure seems like the author was encouraging people to create a survey purely for lead generation. You can read the post at the link below and make your own decision.

6 Tips to Generate Lead via Online Survey

CASRO, the Council of American Survey Research Organizations is pretty clear on the ethics of this, stating “Deceptive practices and misrepresentation, such as using research as a guise for sales or solicitation purposes, are expressly prohibited.”

Marketers, whether members of CASRO, or not, should still adhere to the organization’s Code of Standards and Ethics for Survey Research.

Let’s Plagiarize To Show How Well We Copywrite?

If you think deceptive surveys are bad, how about plagiarizing someone who recommends the use of deceptive surveys?

The original blog post, cited above, was May 25, 2009. On May 26, a copywriter appeared to plagiarize the blog post. I say, “appeared,” because the copywriter might have had permission (though I doubt it). You can read her post at the link below.

6 Tips to Generate Leads Online…using a survey

Plagiarism is one of my personal pet peeves. Plagiarists are not only unethical thieves, they are lazy bums. I would never hire a copywriter who plagiarizes or use any marketing material from a plagiarist. Neither should you.

Plagiarism is the equivalent of downloading a song from a file sharing service, putting it on your website (or selling it) and claiming that you wrote and performed the music.

Your risk when you use the work of a plagiarist is that the original creator of the work might come after you, lawyer in tow. If the plagiarist steals from others, he or she might steal from you. Don't risk it.

Unfortunately, plagiarism is widespread. I know a number business owners who have paid consultants premiums for plagiarized material. In essence, they’re buying stolen material and paying more than it cost when new.

Do Ethics Matter?

According to a marketing textbook, most people think business executives only have “poor” to “fair” ethical standards. If businesspeople think it's okay to trick prospects or steal intellectual property and claim it as their own, the public is right. Ethical standards in the business community are low.

Personally, I don't accept that. Ninety-nine percent of the business owners I know are extremely ethical. It's the one percent that ruin the reputation of the rest of us.

Do ethics matter? I hope so. But what do I know when the country’s sitting vice president is himself, a serial plagiarist.