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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars Blog

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« Shoestring opportunity | Main | Engagement first »


Marketing works.

Advertising and promotion and lobbying cost money. And organizations pay for it because, by and large, it works. Not all the time, and rarely as big as people hope, but sure, you can influence the public by spending money.

Which leads to the key question: are you responsible for what you market?

Some people will tell you that the market decides. They’ll remind you that most consumers are adults, spending their own resources and doing it freely. That people have a right to buy what they want, even if what they want isn’t good for them (right now, or in the long run). That’s what living in a free country is all about, apparently. Buy what you want.

But wait.

I thought we agreed that marketing works.

If marketing works, it means that free choice isn’t quite so free. It means that marketers get to influence and amplify desires. The number of SUVs sold in the United States is a bazillion times bigger than it was in 1962. Is that because people suddenly want them, or is it because car marketers built them and marketed them?

Cigarette consumption is way down. Is that because people suddenly don’t want them any more, or is it because advertising opportunities are limited?

Others will tell you that if it’s legal, it’s fair game. If it’s legal for Edelman to post a blog called Working Families for Wal-Mart (when it’s really working Edelman employees for Wal-Mart), then they have every right to do so. In fact, they have an obligation to their shareholders to do so. Or so they say.

I believe that every criminal, no matter how heinous the crime, deserves an attorney. I don't believe that every product and every organization and every politician deserves world-class marketing or PR.

A neighbor was complaining that the baseball field in my town needs upkeep, and wonders why we don’t go ahead and take $100,000 from Pepsi for sponsorship of the field and a long-term contract to put vending machines on site. It doesn’t matter to him that obesity and heart disease are the number one preventable cause of death. He says that it’s a personal choice, and if we can get the money, we should.

Who’s responsible?

I was surprised at how angry I got in an email exchange with John, a reader near Detroit. I wrote, “I'm sorry if I seem like a curmudgeon, but the arrogance and  blindness of Detroit's management really and truly annoys me. Tens of thousands of innocent workers lost their jobs while clueless overpaid  company men drove the industry into the ground for decades. These were the guys who had plenty of time to fix their problems (20 years)  but instead lobbied hard to maintain SUV subsidies and gas subsidies  and on and on. They're sort of like cigarette companies, but with far  more side affects. They've let down our country, in my opinion, and just because they  are lip synching a bit now, I'm in no hurry to tell you that the problems are gone.”

And now Detroit is marketing hard in DC to fight against mileage standards again, claiming that they make the cars that people want to buy.

There are two problems with blaming the market:

The first is that the market is short sighted. Which means that in a year or two or five, when the market changes its mind and wakes up, you’re left holding the bag. By not taking responsibility for growing and nurturing the market in the right way, you get punished later.

The second is that if you poison your market, it all goes away. Not just your job, but your community too.

Let me be really clear, just in case. If you think that the world would be a better place if everyone owned a handgun, then yes, market handguns as hard as you can. If you honestly believe that kids are well served by drinking a dozen spoonfuls of sugar every morning before school, then I may believe you're wrong, but you should go ahead and market your artificially-sweetened juice product. My point is that you have no right to market things you know are harmful or that lead to bad outcomes, regardless of how much you need that job.

Along the way, “just doing my job,” has become a mantra for blind marketers who are making short-term mistakes in order to avoid a conflict with the client or the boss. As marketing becomes every more powerful, this is just untenable. It’s unacceptable.

If you get asked to market something, you’re responsible. You’re responsible for the impacts, the costs, the side effects and the damage. You killed that kid. You poisoned that river. You led to that fight. If you can’t put your name on it, I hope you’ll walk away. If only 10% of us did that, imagine the changes. Imagine how proud you’d be of your work.

The amazing thing is that over and over again, we're discovering that marketers who actually take responsibility for their marketing are actually more successful. Go figure.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Responsibility:

» Responsibility from An Interference of Thoughts.
Another great post by Seth Godin. The only thing I would like to add is that it is not only true for marketeers. Anybody working has some responsibility to carry and if you cannot put your name under what you produced, you should not produce it. The ... [Read More]

» "Would you take a job as a marketer for a tobacco company?" from Ch4tter
I was sitting in an Organizational Behavior class when the professor asked the question. After allowing us a few minutes to mull it over in our groups he took hand-count. I was blown away by the number of students who [Read More]

» Responsible Radio Advertising from Direct Response Radio Advertising Blog
This is Seth's best post ever. He has a provocative post today that all marketers should read. It'll challenge you to think about what you do and why. Even with the best of intentions, we can let ourselves be led... [Read More]

» Where do you draw the line? from Campaign to Customer
Seth Godin has done it again. In his post about marketing Responsibility he makes some good points. However, I have to ask, where do you draw the line? If you market automobiles are you responsible for deaths caused in accidents? Im not sure ... [Read More]

» Seth Godin Crosses The Line From Marketer to Social Activist... from Maneuver Marketing Communique
I have long held the naive notion that influencers like marketers, teachers, military leaders, professors, historians, etc., have an obligation [Read More]

» Responsibility by Seth Godin from the Virtual Assistant's Assistant
Marketing works. Advertising and promotion and lobbying cost money. And organizations pay for it because, by and large, it works. Not all the time, and rarely as big as people hope, but sure, you can influence the public by spending money. Which leads ... [Read More]

» Responsiblemarketing from Green Tea Ice Cream
Yknow, I could be snide and go trawling through his previous writings for examples of less than glowingly ethical companies he might have previous endorsed or I can take this post by Seth Godin (two name checks in one day - uh-oh, better lay off... [Read More]

» responsible marketing from PKB
Its been a while since Ive seen one of these fiery, challenging posts from Seth Godin. This one is great and inspiring. Thanks Seth. Let me be really clear, just in case. If you think that the world would be a better place if everyone own... [Read More]

» Marketing and Responsibility from Craig Rentmeester's Blog
Seth Godin had a great post today (link to post). He writes about how marketers should take responsibility for their actions. He gives great examples about allowing Pepsi to sponsor a neighborhood field in exchange for a long-term contract to [Read More]

» Non-Coachable. Wow. from It's About Making Babies!
OK, Seth Godin had a profound post a few days ago, about how some people seem to have an issue with being coachable. I mentioned that post, which I consider a key to understanding many dating arguments, and many other communication failu... [Read More]

» Remember your Integrity from A Renaissance Man
From my perspective it reminds me of one of the pearls of wisdom that my Grandfather left me with: Remember you Integrity, because in the end that is all you have. [Read More]

» We need courage for marketing to evolve from Gino Cosme | Cosmedia
Seth Godin speaks the truth again about how marketers who take responsibility for their efforts more often than not are the successful ones. This is true for Web marketing as well. But I’d also like to add another quality to the mix. Courage. You see... [Read More]

» Responsibility lies with people, not markets from MyMindshare Blog
Seth Godin has a good rant about the responsibility of marketers. There is only one point I take issue with. He says, the market is short sighted is a reason that marketers can't take refuge in the excuse that everything [Read More]

» Is The Army Recruiting Children On The Playground? from The Tough Questions Blog
I was waiting for a friend last week in the parking lot of his condo complex and I saw something that I thought was pretty amazing. A black sedan with a big Army logo on each side pulled into the driveway and let out a young looking man i... [Read More]

» The Message Matters from Steven Gibbs
Check out this link by Seth Godin. Really makes me think how responsible we are for the message of Christ. For those of us who are following Christ, we have been given a HUGE responsibility to spread this message. It [Read More]

» This Week In SEO - 6/15/07 from TheVanBlog
Can it really be Friday again? Woo hoo! Ready for another episode of This Week In SEO? I hope so since thats what youre getting. Ive got the usual assortment of links across the usual assortment of categories so lets get st... [Read More]

» Five Favorite Personal Development Reads (and Listens) This Week from Creating a Better Life
Steve Olson asks some powerful questions and shares his observations on Fighting Poverty. Im a #1 man myself, mainly from personal experience. In Responsibility, Seth Godin asks us to look at the question Are you responsible for what yo... [Read More]

» Hey Vendors! Take Responsibilty For What You Market! from The 401(k) Insider
Seth Godin is completely on the mark with his post "Responsibility". Vendors taking responsibility? No, I wish that were the case. We have instead, reps who sell expensive, poorly performing, opaque vehicles chosen by plan sponsors (good people with ac... [Read More]

» from growasacoach
I just came off listening to a call with Seth Godin Andy Wibbels about Seth's new book The Dip As well as it being a great summary of ideas and a QA of the call, we were directed to Seth's [Read More]

» The responsibility of mortgage brokers and other front-liners in the foreclosure fiasco from Blown Mortgage
As you may or may not know I blog regularly over at the Bloodhound Real Estate Blog. Here is a post that I wrote that I wanted to share here with you if you don't read Bloodhound. A quick note: [Read More]

» Seths Blog: Responsibility from Super Mega Action Weblog Plus!
Seth Godin always comes up with stuff that seems relevant, so tho I dont want to re-post his entire blog here, this entry about responisbility totally sums up the way we wish to work as we develop our company. Meant to post this a week or two ag... [Read More]

» ¿El marketing 2.0 debe ser marketing responsable? from [lang_es]Web oficial Marketing 2.0[/lang_es][lang_en]Marketing 2.0 official website[/lang_en]
Leyendo un artículo de Seth Godin (en inglés) en el que habla de la responsabilidad a la hora de hacer campañas de marketing, no he podido dejar de pensar en la primera de las tesis del Marketing 2.0: 1. No me mentirás ni tratarás de engañ... [Read More]

« Shoestring opportunity | Main | Engagement first »