How Ethical Is Internet Marketing?
Ethics in any business is essential and in a small business it is front and centre to the success of any small business. Ethics necessitates integrity and trying to maintain a long term business relationship with people if you do not practice ethical behaviour by honest dealings will soon see any small business file for bankruptcy.
What is Integrity?
The Oxford Dictionary (circa 1964) describes integrity as:
Integrity: n. Wholeness; soundness; uprightness, honesty. [ME. F.OF -te, or L. intergritas (integer, see -ty)]
The online dictionary describes integrity as: in•teg•ri•ty
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.
Now that we clearly understand what integrity means, the question remains as to how ethical is Internet marketing? The next question is why a noun has been turned into a verb?
Is Hype in sales letters ethical?
Anyone who has read a sales letter for an Internet marketing product has been subjected in one degree or another, to a percentage of hype. It seems that to sell a product in the Internet marketing category requires a degree of what has become known as hype or over-stating the benefits of a product or service.
For a variety of reasons, people in the Internet marketing industry accept “hype” as being acceptable behaviour. People ‘tell you’ they will give you the information without any ‘hype’ but this is just another type of hype.
Hype is a lie any time that the written or spoken word does not represent truth.
Three reasons why hype is used in Internet marketing
1. Sales letters for Internet Marketing (IM) products are based on the old system of direct mail format. Direct mail has gone the way of the Dodo bird because people soon realized that the words did not match up with the truth.
2. Direct Mail into letterboxes was/is expensive with only a small return on investment (ROI) when compared with the inexpensive method of doing up one sales letter and then distributing it through the Internet.
3. Hype is exaggerating truth. Direct mail depends on exaggerating problems associated with some course of action the person needs to take to remove that pain. The benefits of taking this action are then exaggerated to fix the problem. This action is what the seller wishes a person to take; that is, to buy the answer to that pain. Any time one person deliberately hurts another, in word or deed, is an unethical act.
So how ethical is Internet Marketing in your opinion?