“What’s the link to Marketing?”, you ask. There are several answers here. One of them will be revealed in my next post.
Another important answer is that American corporate business is at a crossroads today. It has largely become toxic and self-defeating, and is badly in need of reform, for everyone’s sake, including its own. The Marketer finds her/himself in the middle of this situation. Are the products we market being honestly represented? Are the companies we work for, like the tobacco, oil and firearms industries, guilty of egregious, deceptive practices? Do they, like Wal-Mart, exploit their workers, making wage slaves of them? Do they lobby Washington for policies that benefit them at the expense of the consumer?
The financial companies in which I’ve worked have been assiduously honest in representing their products, but life and health insurance products have always been heavily regulated, to the benefit of the consumer. However, after the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act, the banksters have moved in to tear down the protective “Chinese Walls” between investment banking and consumer banking services. The result was a spate of bad mortgages being pushed onto unsophisticated consumers in order to feed the demand for lucrative derivative products by greedy wealthy investors. The effects of this deregulation was to bring the entire financial system to the brink of collapse.
Jobs are scarce, and workers rights are few, but, as Marketers, we have an ethical responsibility to represent our products honestly and to be persuasive but not manipulative, to target the consumer segments that are most likely to consume our products, without being intrusive and dishonest.
In short, our integrity is important, and an enlightened business will understand that it is an important intangible asset. Let’s be beacons of light to our consumers and to our companies, not predatory drones.