Can Marketers Behave Ethically and Prosper?

Simply stated, yes.  This being said, marketers must walk a narrow line so not to appear unethical or purely self-motivated.  Some ideas marketers can use to achieve successful, yet ethical marketing programs are to focus on providing excellent customer service and to deliver real value.

It may seem obvious for a company to deliver exceptional customer service, but in doing so, a company exemplifies its ethical behavior.  Recently Chase bank has touted its customer service line for its Sapphire Card.  The advertisement shows a man and a woman on a ski lift discussing using rewards points.  The man makes the point that Chase answers the phone instead of sending its customers into an automated phone tree.  The Article “Fidelity Factor[1]” makes note of this, paraphrasing “that rather than routing a customer through a frustrating automated system, this person-to-person interaction is fundamental to building trust.”  At the end of the day, one of the best ways for a company to appear/be ethical is to have a trusting relationship with their customer.

It may seem as though a company cannot be “altruistic” in its branding motivations, as stated in Fidelity Factor, but “the idea becomes plausible when you implement actions and policies demonstrating your dedication to pleasing them,” the customer.  An example of this is a corporate code of conduct.  Novartis, a large pharmaceutical company has an entire portion of their website dedicated to communicating their policies on responsible marketing, rules of conduct for salespeople, R&D, as well as lobbyists! (

Ethical marketing extends beyond the for-profit sector, and may even be more important to survival of non-profit organizations.  In “Nonprofits Can Take cues from Biz World” the discussion about delivering on the promises made abounds.  It is critical for non-profits to behave ethically, since they rely nearly exclusively on the donations of individuals, they must deliver on their promises.

In addition to delivering service to, and building trust with the customer, a company has an ethical responsibility to provide real value to its consumer.  As mentioned in “Attracting Loyalty,” “a value proposition is the complete package of offerings a seller proposes to a customer in exchange for the customer’s funds.”  The article describes this in the 4P’s, the right product at a fair price, in the right place, as promised.  It is okay for a company to make a profit, and providing a good value proposition for a customer, delivers ethically.

At the end of the day it really comes down to the questions posed in “Trust in the Marketplace.”  And that is “How proud would you be if your marketing practices were made public…shared with your friends…or family?”  I agree with the statement “From an economic point of view, ethical behavior should exist because it just makes good business sense to be ethical and operate in a manner that demonstrates trustworthiness.”  In addition I found another great quote from a blog by Alf Nucifora, and it states “Ultimately, there is only one course of action, the “family member” test. Ask yourself, can you, with a clear conscience, recommend that a close family member buy, use or consume the product?” In conclusion, it seems that by conducting business, and marketing in an ethical manner not only allows a company to survive and profit, it sets that company up for a long-term relationship with its customers, and in turn should lead to extended prosperity for the ethical company.

[1] AE Articles “Fidelity Factor” McGraw Hill Companies Annual Editions Marketing 09/10


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