It is easy for many outside of the marketing profession (and some inside of it) to misunderstand what marketers do. For that reason, it is also easy to point the finger at marketers for scammy behavior by companies – both real and perceived.
As a marketer, it is sometimes difficult to defend the way that companies market themselves. Why? Because some of us lie.
Marketers lie for all sorts of different reasons. But those reasons all share something in common – that is that the lies are an effort to drive more sales. Some do it intentionally. Others do it mistakenly. Some don’t know they’re doing it until it gets pointed out to them.
The unintentional lies are usually born out of some misunderstanding. The marketing team believes something about the company’s products that isn’t true. They then use this untruth in advertisements and promotional materials.
Just like anything else, ignorance is not a defense against false claims in advertising. They may be unintentional, but they’re still lies.
These types of lies are the result of siloed organizations that lack transparency and open communication. Marketers are not talking to sales teams and customer service reps and product developers. No one is telling them what is and is not a part of their offering.
To fix unintentional lies, marketing teams must invest in organizational development and training. Marketing should be fully integrated – from research and planning to development and sales.
The intentional lies are born out of fraud. These are lies that marketers are spreading in the marketplace that have no basis in reality. They are the kind of lies – like the VW diesel emissions scandal – that are intended to sell products to customers who would not otherwise purchase from you. The lie is what gets the sale.
Intentional lies come out of companies that don’t value honesty, that have failed to establish an ethical or moral culture. More often than not, these companies end up in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Giving Marketers a Bad Name
Whether marketers lie intentionally or unintentionally, they give other marketers a bad name. These bad actors are the reason why the public generally thinks of marketing as a disdainful profession. They don’t want to be advertised to, and they feel like all marketers are out to get them; that we have one hand in their wallets at all times.
To earn our reputations back, marketers must be willing to speak up. They must be willing to act in accordance with established ethical principles, and point out those companies or people (inside and outside of the organization) who fail to meet these standards.
If you have to lie about your product to sell it, you are marketing the wrong products.