Are All Marketers Losers and Sleazebags?

“If it’s not done ethically, advertising won’t be trusted. If consumers don’t trust it, advertising is pointless.”  – Jef I. Richards

One of my regular copywriting assignments is to write e-mail promotions for the American Writers and Artists Institute, a sister company of ETR. These e-mail messages often go out with my name in the “From” line — and recently Jim, a recipient, didn’t take too kindly to my telling him about a new AWAI product via the e-mail marketing medium. He told me so in a rather rude (and I think uncalled for) e-mail message sent to me personally.

When I called him to task for his rudeness, he apologized but then added this statement: “What is really sad today, since the birth of the Internet, is that any marketer can send 1 million e-mails out to people who really never asked for them.”

I can understand that. Some people don’t like getting telemarketing calls. (I’m one of them.) Some people don’t like direct mail. Some people hate TV commercials.

My father-in-law, for example, won’t even watch television unless he has a remote with a mute button alongside him. Whenever a commercial comes on, he clicks it. The picture is still displayed, but the sound is cut off. When the show comes back on, he clicks it again to restore the audio.

So, fine. But Jim wasn’t done with me. He then added a comment that can only be taken as a putdown: “And for you to have to market your wares by dunning  via e-mail shows that what you have is not in really big demand anyway.”

Of course, addicted as I am to educating people about the realities of the free-market system we live in, I immediately sent Jim the following reply:

“Thanks for your gracious note. But . . .

“You are as wrong as wrong can be when you say ‘And for you to have to market your wares by dunning via e-mail shows that what you have is not in really big demand anyway.’

“The objective of any business entity is to make a profit for its owners or shareholders while servicing its customers. Marketing online (or any other way) achieves both objectives.

“First, the marketing generates increased sales of the product. If the sales exceed the cost of the marketing, it is profitable.

“That is why e-mail marketing works. The cost is low, so it’s easier to break even than it is with TV commercials — which are very expensive on prime-time network television.

“Second, the more people you can sell your product to, the more there are who can benefit from it.

“I have the feeling that you think marketing or selling is unethical, sleazy, or demeaning. But if you are selling a product or service you truly believe in, it is the opposite in that you are bringing the benefits of that product or service to the masses so that many more people can be helped by it.

“If I buy into your argument, anyone who sends out resumes when looking for a new job is not a competent employee, because if he were, he would be in demand at all times and besieged by constant job offers.

“As for my not being ‘in demand,’ I have more clients and assignments than I could ever possibly hope to handle. In fact, I turn down dozens every month who want to hire me.

“If you want to discuss this further, I can be reached at 201-385-1220. You can also read articles explaining e-mail marketing for free on the articles page of my website:”

Why am I including this rant here? Because it teaches a simple lesson that is extremely important to your marketing success.

If you are caught up in the mistaken belief that marketing, selling, and advertising are somehow sleazy . . . or if you inherently believe that money and profits are evil . . . you are not going to market or sell yourself, your company, or your product or service enthusiastically. And your lack of enthusiasm will impact upon your results.

The only kind of marketing I find distasteful or distressful is selling a product or service you don’t really believe in, don’t really like, and don’t think is any good. In such cases, you are merely trying to take people’s money without exchanging something of value for it — so, naturally, you feel guilty, and the whole transaction seems tainted.

But if you offer a quality product or service, priced fairly and backed by a strong guarantee that you honor, you should feel proud, not guilty. In fact, you’d be doing people a disservice by NOT marketing your product actively and aggressively. Because then they’d never know about it or have the opportunity to benefit from what you offer.

(Ed. Note: Bob Bly is the editor of Mailbox Millionaire, ETR’s program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business.)