23/04/09

By Brian Chernett

Is the defence that something is the industry norm sufficient when your business is involved in activity that could be seen as spoiling the market? Seth Godin, a leading Marketing commentator clearly doesn’t think so. In a recent blog titled ‘Poisoning the Well’ he accuses Marketers of having a damaging effect on the effectiveness of Marketing.

”Marketers have spammed, lied, deceived, cluttered and ripped us off for so long, we’re sick of it.

Which means that even if you have a really good reason, no, you can’t call me on the phone. Which means that even if it’s really important, no, I’m not going to read the instructions. Which means that god forbid you try to email me something I didn’t ask for… you’re trashed. It’s so fashionable to be skeptical now that no one believes you if you attempt to do something for the right reasons.

Selfish short-sighted marketers ruined it for all of us. The only way out, I think, is for a few marketers to so overwhelm the market with long-term, generous marketing that we have no choice but to start paying attention again.”

In the face of such a situation, maybe your reaction will be to blame others and to suggest that your actions will be insignificant in making the changes necessary to correct the problem. I suspect, though, that you do know the right thing to do. That you should stand up and be counted in the hope that others will follow. You need to take personal and corporate responsibility for making the change possible.

Only you can choose what you are prepared to do. Only you know what your ethical limits are. You know what you will and won’t do but are others aware of that. Is your moral and ethical position clear?

Though Godin is railing against individuals who have created this situation, those individuals are often part of organisations. Do the organisations condone what is done in their name? Do you know what is being said in yours? Do your employees know your company (and personal) values? Do you have anything in place to ensure that they stick to them?

If everyone is running in one direction, the temptation is to follow them. But they could still running in the wrong direction. If you don’t know where you are going, any direction is as good as another. If you do know – stick to it unless and until good information tells you that you should change.

Leaders lead. They tend to swim against the prevailing direction. To be distinctive and noticeable, you cannot stick with the herd. Leading responsibly can mean making hard decisions and taking a stand. Corporate responsibility is about doing that — and it starts with you.

Brian Chernett is founder of The Academy for Chief Executives — Find out more at www.chiefexecutive.com
We always welcome your feedback on the articles. Email them to brian.chernett@freshbusinessthinking.com

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