Remember your values when tempted to stretch the truth
By Leanne Hoagland-Smith May 19, 2012 10:48PM
Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 20, 2012 11:22PM
In today’s social media-driven world, there are many collisions between marketing and ethics. From the over-the-top make your pitch website landing pages to all the self-promotion at the LinkedIn discussions groups, on the Twitter feed or on the Facebook Timeline, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the authenticity from all the media and marketing hype.
During a presentation that I delivered last week at the Indiana Association for Home & Hospice Care Inc., one of the attendees asked about when marketing violates ethics and how does one keep this violation or collision from happening?
This was a great question and one that is not asked as much as it should be.
The World Wide Web allows for individuals and their respective businesses to be viewed as greater than they really are. One of the most recent examples is the April 2012 purchase by Facebook of Instagram at a price tag of $1 billion. Instagram has only nine employees.
In the 21st century, social media increasingly is becoming the marketing platform or channel of choice because it is free and allows for immediate and personal interaction with potential customers (prospects) to strategic partners to centers of influence. Because marketing is all about attracting attention and building relationships, the self-promotion behavior through marketing messages can quickly take over because of the innate human desire for self preservation.
With more and more solo entrepreneurs, independent contractors or what the federal government calls non-employed small businesses (there are no employees), getting the marketing message out about their businesses is crucial to self preservation. For without new business (think increase sales), they will not be able to pay for their basic needs of shelter, food, clothing, transportation, etc. Then add their passion about their businesses to the mix and it is easy to understand how quickly their marketing messages and their ethics may collide from the perspectives of others.
This is why it is so necessary to have a strategic plan not only with vision and mission statements, but a values statement. For without clearly articulating the core values within the business even if it one person, self preservation may take over creating the inevitable collision between marketing and ethics.
Being a digital immigrant to technology and consequently social media, I slowly transitioned my marketing to various social media channels with the latest one being You Tube. However in all instances, my goal is to stay true to my core values as written on my website and on the wall in front of me as I write this column.
“ADVANCED SYSTEMS’ values will continually raise the B.A.R. for our clients and stakeholders
• Build long term relationships
• Achieve sustainable results
• Results that deliver positive return on investment
Daily behaviors will demonstrate creativity, faith, gratitude, intelligence, innovation, intuition, learning, patience, quality work, reflection, respect, risk taking and thoughtfulness as we work with our clients and meet new individuals.”
Additionally, I keep Socrates’ Three Filters in the forefront of my brain when interacting with others.
1. Is what I speak or write kind?
2. Is what I speak or write truthful?
3. Is what I speak or write necessary?
By making a personal commitment to myself to adhere to my own values’ statement as well as Socrates’ Three Filters, I have been able to refrain from this collision of ethics and marketing.
The advice to the person who asked the question beyond suggesting returning to or creating a shared values statement is to trust your intuitive gut brain. If what you speak or write is making you uncomfortable or if you perceive you just may be stretching the truth, then don’t do it.
I am reminded of a Yiddish proverb that if adopted by all small businesses when it comes to their marketing actions just might avoid some of these collisions between marketing and ethics:
“A half truth is still a whole lie.”
P.S. Shout Out: Towle Street Theater in Hammond and the Memorial Opera House both are great places for entertainment while supporting local communities’ endeavors.
Website: Indiana Association for Home & Hospice Care Inc.