Mark Twain once remarked: “Always try to do the right thing. It will surprise a lot of people. And it will astonish the rest.”
Doing the right thing is what ethical marketing is all about. It means creating and marketing products that live up to their promises. It means treating customers, vendors, employees and other stakeholders fairly, professionally, and with dignity and respect. It means doing business in a way that is not harmful to individuals, to the environment, to social values.
It means being persuasive, not manipulative or deceptive, when advertising or marketing products. It means showing special care when marketing to special groups such as children, the elderly, and “marketing illiterates,” those who are vulnerable because they lack the language and consumption skills needed to make informed choices.
It means giving back to the communities where we live and work — and beyond our local community, if we are willing and able. It means practicing good corporate citizenship, not just because we know that people expect it from us, but because we know it is the right thing to do — and we want to do it.
It means, perhaps obviously, not breaking the law. It means following both the spirit and the letter of the marketing and advertising regulations that safeguard the rights and well-being of consumers and businesses.
As business owners and managers, it means practicing — and improving — our skills as enlightened managers.
To paraphrase Patrick Murphy, a pioneer in the field of marketing ethics, I believe that taking the higher ethical road is good business strategy, provides for long-term organizational profitability, and stands confidently as the “proper” thing to do.
During the past 20+ years, I have had the privilege of working with organizations who believe, as I do, that doing well starts and ends with doing good. Thank you for your confidence in me, and for helping me show that there is a better way to do business.
Frank Marafiote, MBA