You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye
— Graham Nash
There are a lot of dishonest people in the world who have no qualms about taking your hard earned money in any way that they can. And the internet has created more opportunities for them to flourish and spread their evil.
You don’t want to be like them. At least I hope you don’t. I know that there are times when you’re tempted to say “What the …” and jump to the dark side, but you resist.
But what about those times where we slowly drift over the line? I’m sure that you’ve heard the experiment with the frogs who didn’t jump out of the boiling water because it slowly rose to a boil while they were in it. We run that risk as marketers when we slip into the grey areas.
We need a way to keep ourselves in line — to hold ourselves and one another accountable. We need a code.
The Internet Marketing Code of Ethics
Many people are asking if we need a code of ethics. Brendan Wenzel of Launch Karma asks Should Internet Marketing Have a Code of Ethics?
Gary Simpson has a free 55 page report on How Not To Be An Internet Marketing Zombie over at Internet Marketing Talk (remind me never to piss Gary off — I think he could take me 8=) It’s a passionate look at unethical behaviour.
I’ve even written about some of the unscrupulous methods of marketing I’ve seen.
I stumbled upon The Internet Marketer’s Code of Ethics at Dennis Pippen’s site. I’m not sure if Dennis originated this proposed framework (I think it may actually originate from Ken Harthun), but I think it is a good guideline for anyone who wants to be a Marketer of Integrity.
Sadly, a search for “internet marketers code of ethics” didn’t bring up as many results in Google as I had hoped. However, Simon Dodd, Trish Mullen and Ken Harthun have all promoted this same code so there is growing awareness. [Ken's comments in the Warrior Forum lead me to believe that he originated the code but I was unable to get to his site to verify it.]
I also found the American Marketing Association has a code of ethics. As internet marketing is a subset of marketing in general this might be a good place to start.
At some point it would be nice to see a foundation of sorts that is responsible for this code of ethics. It will need some work, but as people become more educated about online purchasing it will help you stand out amongst the crowd.
One promising site is IMTrustWorthy [note that this is an affiliate link]. This site allows members to post an IMTrustWorthy badge on their site (see mine in the sidebar). The badge links back to their profile which other members of the site can rate and provide feedback on.
This allows us to judge each other based on a set of best practices (they are somewhat similar to the code). You can also network with other marketers to find partners for JV events, etc.
The site is currently in beta but I hope that it will grow. But it will need us all to work together to make it grow. If you haven’t signed up for it yet then get on over there and check it out. Now!
It’s Up To You
You are a Marketer of Integrity, so what do you think? Is this code something that is worth pursuing? Many feel that it is a waste of time. Others feel that it is an empty promise — either you are ethical or you’re not.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments or write a post about it and link back here. The more we fight to stand up for integrity, the better this industry will be.