To Thine Own Self: Honesty In Marketing

Posted by on January 8, 2013

In my second book “To Thine Own Self:  Honesty in Marketing,” I attempt to offer a way for marketers to give up the disingenuousness that characterizes – and debases—the profession.  If my first book “Cool is for Fools” was about helping marketers reclaim their profession, this book is about creating honest and just frameworks from which to act as a marketer.  Of course, this book is only a very small step in the larger journey, but it may provide some hope to those who want to be ethical while pursuing a career in marketing.

In one of the lead snippets in the book, I posit that all companies ought to hire what I call a “Marketing Ethicist.”  In the pages that follow, I lambast places like Build-a-Bear Workshop for essentially conning harried parents into wasting money, and I suggest that Facebook executives ought to publicly apologize for their bungled IPO, which lost ordinary people billions of dollars.  In one place, I discuss the admonition given to us by political activist Abe Osheroff – who defined authenticity in the most profound way I have ever heard; in another, I criticize social media pundits for their fatuous claims about the role of their platforms in the Arab Spring.

Despite their inherent diversity, these are all questions of marketing, specifically of what sort of marketers we all want to be.

I cannot make claims about this book’s place in the pantheon of great marketing writing.  Perhaps my ideas will help others, perhaps not.  What is definite is that whatever small success I’ve had in my profession did not come from the result of any training in the discipline (I had none) or from coloring within the lines.  I’ve been lucky enough to learn from some extraordinary marketers, and what has helped me by far the most is my ability to connect many different worlds (politics, history, psychology) to marketing, which itself becomes simply a reflective pool for so much else.

Writing the piece for this book was incredibly fun and cathartic.  The team I worked with to put the book together was an absolutely fantastic (thanks Steve, Eve, Bill, Pam) source of ideas and support.  I hope readers enjoy the book.

Most of all, I hope that more people fuse marketing and honesty.  Not doing so would be perhaps the single greatest abdication we can make as professionals.