“To be or not to be…”. Essentially, what Hamlet meant to ask was – should people exist or not? I am inspired to embark on the issue of the existence of marketing with this Shakespearean epic of a drama line. For, increasingly do I come across a prejudiced opinion of ‘marketing’. The view that marketing is responsible for, or even better, the creator of major wrongdoings to which innocent people are subjected to and victimized by. That marketing cheats, steals, fools, manipulates, in short – does everything that can be classified as wrong, improper, unethical and even criminal. And it wouldn’t take a second for anyone to start debating on this topic. The most silent of students in the class will also suddenly discover the vibrations in his vocal cords and pass a rhetoric akin to the ‘crime reporter’ on TV – “gaur se dekhiye is darinde ko…’.
My job here is not to acquit marketing in the court of ethics. I want to shift the discussion to a newer dimension…one that we most probably know, but don’t talk about. I am not going to say what is good about marketing and what is better. I want to talk about people – simple people, people like you and me and everyone else who’s out there.
Marketing becomes the fall guy primarily for three reasons: first, it is the ‘front-stage’ of all business activities – so it is visible, open and overt. Whether it’s a good show or a bad one, you can’t do anything – you bought the tickets and now you are exposed to the drama unfolding on stage. Second, by it’s very nature, marketing as a domain is considered smart, shrewd, cunning, devious, and what not. And we get scared. We get scared of being out-witted, being taken for a ride, being manipulated. The human mind always apprehends what it cannot comprehend. And thirdly, it deals with money directly. People don’t want to part with their money,least of all lose it.
So, the most common personification of the evil side of marketing is the SALESMAN. That guy with a laptop bag, a tie and a smile which is definitely 100% artificial, has only one goal in life – to fool you of your money, so he survives and you lose. He is to blame, yes!, because he promised you to activate your new internet connection in 24 hours, but didn’t. And that is what probably happens, most of the times, to most of the people. But what has marketing got to do with it?
Let us make him a doctor instead. What are the odds that he won’t recommend a 750 rs. blood check-up for a mild throat pain? Very high. And we all know the reason why.
How about a jeweler? Would he be tempted to con a gullible customer by under-valuing the worth of her valuables that she has come to sold? You bet!
We are still not talking about our inspectors – tax, health, food, RTO, police, education and thousands others. The ‘kalyug ka insaan’ is credited with being corrupt – willingness to act dishonestly for personal gains.
It’s the ‘man’ who has perverted himself. The profession can neither pervert itself nor it’s follower. The profession doesn’t have a ‘chetna’ – a consciousness of its own. To the contrary, all professions have been created to do better for life as a whole..how can they be bad or wrong? All professions are noble and just.
I got curious and googled the term – ‘ethical marketing’ and got 9,42,00,000 results in 0.39 seconds. And I was amazed. It means there can be something called as ‘unethical marketing’ too? And ethical marketing is an option we ought to choose? And then I ask, is it unethical marketing or is it unethical PRACTICE of marketing that we mean. The need of the hour is an ethical practice of marketing, just like ethical practice of law, ethical practice of finance, ethical practice of medical care and so on. Marketing has always been ethical; and so have all the other professions too. In fact the question does not arise….being ethical or not is an option that can be thought upon by a thinking mind. Marketing can’t think, can’t choose, it only states what is ideal and best.
We blame Marketing, but it is the person who is the poison. Should marketing exist? Of course yes. Why? Coz’ it’s the only way humans can learn to make things better for others (value, for those exposed to marketing) – people, nature, the entire existence. Marketing thinks of others first. Marketing believes it can make living a better experience by constantly improving upon the present. Marketing aims to make the To Be better than Not to Be.