The ‘Silent e’ of Internet Marketing
Some of you may remember that a few years ago Sesame Street broadcast a song called ‘Silent E’. It was all about how a single letter can completely change the pronunciation and the meaning of a word.
For example, by adding a silent “e” to can it becomes cane – something entirely different. And putting an “e” on the end of star turns it into stare. The point is that one little letter produces a big impact.
There are silent “e’s” all over the place, and they are nowhere more obvious than in internet marketing.
We reckon that the silent “e” for internet marketers is the initial of a very important word that they (and you if you’re an internet marketer) need to learn and embrace. Intrigued? Stay with us and we’ll explain what we’re getting at.
When we have asked seminar audiences to tell us what they think the “e” should stand for, the answers are very varied:
Are the most popular choices, but there are many more. The real one is, sadly, very rarely mentioned.
It is Ethical. (Yes, it deserves a capital letter!)
The Ethics of Internet Marketing
Running a business according to ethical principles should be obvious, but so often this isn’t the case. It seems that as soon as some marketers start to become a little successful, they push their ethics under the table.
They start believing that anything goes providing it makes a dollar.
You only have to look at the sales letters used to promote many of the big internet marketing launches. They are full of lies and half-truths. Many begin with the promise that only a specific limited number of copies of the product will be sold – a limitation the vendor does not intend to stick to.
The first thing they do in their interaction with you, a potential new customer, is lie outright. What’s happened to the ethics of internet marketing?
Then they will show you ‘proofs’ of their earnings. These proofs either state outright or strongly imply that those earnings have resulted from doing what their latest book or course teaches. The reality is that if the earnings are true (and many are just photo-shopped fakes) they refer to other sales the vendor has made, and have nothing to do with the dubious method he is currently trying to peddle.
Bad Ethics Syndicated?
Behind the scenes, all of these over-active product producers have set up agreements with each other to co-promote their products (usually with no questions asked). The result of this is that you get the same pre-written sales pitch from everyone. And in addition, an almost endless stream of content-less sales emails all from different sources and all promoting the same product.
And then, would you believe, they wonder why their lists are getting unresponsive and their subscribers are leaving them in their droves!
And eventually they begin to suffer the consequences of their lack of ethics.
Many of these serial garbage producers are getting so worried about the way they are damaging their own reputations, that they have started launching new products under fake names.
We can’t help wondering why they don’t get the message that it doesn’t matter how many fake names you may have, a bad product is always going to be bad. Why don’t they not spend more time and effort making a good product that they can be proud to launch in their own name?
Maybe that way their shot-to-pieces reputations can begin to be repaired?
The trouble is that once you’ve turned your back on the ethics of internet marketing, it’s incredibly difficult to claw your way back. Very few of the deviant online marketers seem to manage redemption completely.
Government Retaliation to Internet Marketing Abuse
It may seem old fashioned to talk about ethics where marketing is concerned. There is an strong view that all is fair game when it comes to online marketing and selling. There’s no doubt that for many years online marketing has been a bit of a lawless wild west.
Thankfully, government bodies like the Office of Fair Trading in the UK and Federal Trade Commission in America are starting to take action to deal with the bigger excesses and are legislating against many others. Truth and honesty may stand more of a chance in the future. Unfortunately though, governments don’t step in with a gentle touch in situations like this – they wade in with sweeping new regulations that are often way more than is needed. The result is that even the ethical marketers get caught up in the ensuing witch-hunts.
A good example of how heavy-handed Government can be is the proposed US SOP (Stop Online Piracy) legislation. This legislation, (which will affect people internationally not just in the US) seeks to make it a criminal offense to link to any item on the web that is infringed copywrite or to link to a site that has freely available copywrite.
What does this means for those producing blogs or online articles? They could be operating illegally. It’s quite ridiculous, but it’s a very real threat.
Ethics are Not an Optional Extra
In our opinion, ethics are not an optional extra, or something that you turn to when your bad behaviour gets you into trouble. Ethics should be the foundation of any online business, and the basis for the relationship of trust which should exist between buyer and seller.
Help to build and maintain the ethics of internet marketing. Put the silent “e” of ethics at the center of all you do online and you’ll never have to earn trust – it will become an essential part of everything you do in your business.