Ethical Marketing: Are Popups, Presales & Fake Webinars Unethical?

Ethical Marketing: Are Popups, Presales & Fake Webinars Unethical?

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Hello and welcome, to the active, growth podcast. And in, this episode don't, know what number it is but. In this episode we're going to talk about, ethical. Marketing. This, is a topic that was brought to my attention by. One, of my students, in one, of my courses and. It. Relates to so it is inspired, by a, different, podcast, there's podcast called the grey matters podcast, with Steve, dotto and in. Episode 6 he talks about ethical. Marketing and so one of my students listened to, this episode and had some questions about it and asked me for my take on it so I listened as well and I, think it's a very interesting topic in general not just ethical, marketing but ethics in general is something that interests me and so. I wanted, to make. Kind of response or just an inspired, by writer is basically, my. Thoughts. On this topic and in part so of course I'm going to link to this episode right in the show notes I'm going to link to the grey matters, podcast. Episode. Which. You can listen to you, can go and listen to that first if you want you can also listen to it afterwards it doesn't really matter so I'm not, assuming that you've heard that episode. The. One thing I want to say here, to, introduce this is that I think, in, this, podcast episode the. Host Steve, makes a very important, point early, on which, is he, says that there's a difference between things, that are annoying that we find annoying and things. That are actually unethical. And I think that is a very, important, distinction and I, think he misses the mark later on and that's, one of the reasons why I'm making this. Episode, and not just pointing to oh yeah that's my opinion right what what. Was said on this podcast episodes, will I agree with because. I see, things a bit differently, and also. Like I said it's very interesting topic so I want to get into it and, to. Introduce this I want to give you the kind, of a metaphor, or an analogy, for this which. Is concerning. The fear of sharks, versus. The fear of cows right how afraid are we, of sharks, and how, afraid are we of cows, the. Reason I bring this up is because actually. If, you look at the statistics, more. People, are killed by cows. Every, year than by sharks and. The. Reason this happens of course is that both. Incidents. Are extremely. Rare like nobody is in real danger of dying, from. A shark attack or dying from a cow, related, incident, what. Happens is that very very rarely, someone. Swimming, somewhere, gets attacked by a shark. Very. Rarely almost never happens, right and. Also. Very rarely but less rarely. Someone. Working on a farm in a slaughterhouse whatever, someone interacting, with cows also. Gets, in an accident might. Get trampled, to death or something like that right might get injured stabbed by a horn or something and also, dies both of these things happen extremely rarely. But. Of course nobody ever thinks about being. Afraid of a cow because a cow seems harmless and. A. Shark seems terrifying, and so we're afraid of sharks and similarly. We. Tend to we, tend to kind of worry about the wrong things we have irrational, fears and irrational, concerns, based. On kind, of our emotional, responses, to things based, on our gut, responses. To things that sometimes. Are often have absolutely, nothing to do with, the reality of the situation and, I think that the ethical, marketing, question is exactly one of those things, right we have a gut response to certain things they. Annoy us they make us angry and. Sometimes. It doesn't feel like a strong, enough thing to say this, makes me angry or this is annoying and. We want to say this is unethical or this is a scam. But. I think, we have to be we have to I want to show I want to show a perspective, kind, of a shark. Deaths versus, cow deaths perspective. On this because I think we often direct, our outrage, in the, wrong places so, that is the topic of today's episode and, you'll be able to find show notes including, a link to the. Grey, matters podcast, episode on this topic in. The show notes which you can find at active growth com forward slash ethical and also if you have any kind of comments. If you have a question you want to ask or anything like that you, can also go there and you can leave a comment or a voice, message, on that, post so with that let's get into it I'm going to talk about I'm going through several examples, of. Things. That typically are kind, of a question of is this ethical to do so we will talk about you know our pop-ups, or lightbox.

Opt-in Forms that interrupt the visitor is that ethical is it ethical to use countdown, timers, and fake scarcity, is that ethical to use pre-recorded, webinars. OTO webinars, is it ethical to do pre selling so to sell a product you haven't created yet and I'm, going to talk through some scenarios, but. First I want to put. This in context, let's talk about what does it mean whether. Something is ethical, or not and, of course it's a very complicated, question you can read, library's. Worth of books on, this. Topic or many, people have spent their lives thinking. About what. Is and isn't ethical. Now. I want to make this very simple, or just give you a very very simple model of what. I think is useful to, apply to. This case. Which, is, it's. Basically two. Questions number one how. Much good does it do and, number. Two how much harm does, it do and, of. Course good, and harm again can. Be very. Complicated to try to define that but. Again to keep this simple let's look. At harm. A good done to and harm done to human. Beings and let's. Define good, as you. Know increasing, someone's quality of life increasing. Someone's happiness increasing, someone's sense of fulfillment, so. The kind of thing where people would report yes this has, improved my life if. It has that effect if something you do has that effect on people then. That is good it's doing good and harm. Is the opposite right arm is decreasing. Someone's life, quality putting, someone at risk causing. Problems. For someone, causing, any kind of suffering for, human beings that. Is harm done all right and so I would say, that a very simple model of ethics is we can look at how much good does it do how much harm does it do it I kind of put that on a balance put, that on a scale and. Anything. That does, clearly, more good than harm, can. Be qualified as ethical and, I think that does clearly, more harm than good can be modified is unethical and. Then the final, question here another. Thing that, I want you to keep in mind that I'll talk a bit more about later, as well is we. Also have to think about you know how much to, to what degree does. Something, do, good, or harm. And. This is basically a question of leverage as well, so. Certain things right you can make you. Can make big moves that, affect many people in a big way or you can make small moves that affect very few people in a small way and that matters so, one of the reasons why I'm defining, this as a, framework, to think about the question of ethics is because I want to get past the. Gut reaction, thing right the past the thing where something. Is annoying, and we go this is unethical this, is a scam because we feel annoyed it's an expression, of anger, but. Our emotional, response to something is not a good indicator of whether, something is ethical or ethical, or not so you know anything that causes this kind of annoyance, causes. A mild. Amount. Of suffering right. Being, annoyed is a. Form of suffering so, if you do something that causes people, who encounter, it let's say the pop up on your website it. Causes them to software, it causes them to suffer annoyance, that is harm, being done but, it's a small amount of harm being done and probably. Not to that many people all, right so, with that let's let's go into examples, it's going to a bunch of examples before we kind of, go.

Any Further on this right let's, start with the typical, thing that a lot of people get very annoyed about and people in the internet marketing space often get quite emotional or, heated about is, the. Question of what's. Often falsely called pop-ups which is actually lightbox. Right a lightbox opt-in, form where. Someone. Clicks. Through to your blog post they want to read the blog post then this thing pops up in their face it says hey sign. Up for this thing it is interrupting, the, visitor right they wanted to read the article and now you're pushing something else in their face, many. People are very annoyed by this and would. Then call this unethical. But. This, again if we think about how much harm does this do right, how. Much harm does this do well, not much because. The. The suffering. It causes, the harm it causes will be this kind of annoyance, but. There's a very very simple. And easily accessible, option. Out, of it right the thing pops up you can click on on the close button and it's gone and then. To, some degree how. Much you choose to be annoyed by that is up to you right because it's perfectly, possible and perfectly reasonable, to visit the website pop up comes up you close it you just keep reading and you're. Fine right it is it is reasonable. To, expect, that. This won't ruin anyone's, day and won't cause a, big, amount of suffering, for, anyone all right and that's why I would say that it's. Just not that harmful right, it's just not a big deal so even if you find it annoying calling. It unethical I think is an abuse of the term right, isn't abusive it's like. Bringing. Ethics, into this seems. Exaggerated. So. Ok, and also. Another thing which are also kind of steer. Towards, here is you. Know the, pop up itself, the lightbox the interruptive, thing itself, I think. Is not unethical. The. Contents. Of it could, be but. That's nobody, ever complains about that right they complain, about being interrupted but. Really it's, like we're looking at the wrong thing because. Depending on what's in that pop-up, I think it can be ethical. Or unethical and. I'll get. Back to that in a bit but let's go through more examples, so what, about scarcity, right, what if you use scarcity. On in, your process, in your funnel on your sales page or whatever wherever on your website so, let's, say you have a countdown timer on your, sales page and so. You have a limited time offer is that ethical and. It puts pressure on people what, if you have limited quantities, if you say we only sell you, know there's only 500 copies, of this thing even though it's maybe a digital product and you could sell unlimited, of them but, you you artificially, limit, the quantity is. That ethical or what if it's even what if it's even automated if it's like evergreen right so, you. Tell someone hey look there's only two days left to get this offer but actually, it.

Is That, individual, is seeing a two day limit and someone else who. Signs up next week will see an individual, two day limit again so. Again, it's right not really real, scarcity, you, could absolutely, just. Sell it to anyone without any time limit at any time, but. You have set up a system that, creates a, time limit and that creates this pressure, again. This is something of course a lot of people find annoying, but. It's also very common in something you very commonly see because it is a huge, driver of sales right you'll see that if you basically, threaten, to take something away, you'll. See a huge spike in sales from that so of course many businesses, do that, so is, that. Unethical. Well. I think that, once. Again it. Won't one thing that depends is whether it is deceptive, or not, so. I think that deception, lying. Essentially. Is unethical. It's. Mildly, unethical, it's mildly unethical, because, the. More people do it. So society-wide. The more people are deceptive, towards each other the lower everyone's, life quality becomes right we'd, all be much better off to live. Under. Circumstances where, everyone's always being honest that. Would reduce suffering. Overall, of course everyone, wants to be the only liar and this this is how we end up in the, world we live in right but, so, I do think that lying, and deception is. Mildly. Unethical, because it does do some harm but it does harm on a relatively small scale so. Making, people, believe that, this is a live. You. Know. Counting. For every one countdown when it's actually an individualized, evergreen countdown. It's. Mildly unethical, because, you're deceiving people I think, it could be just as effective if people basically know that this is an. Evergreen, thing. Right if you say it for you yeah this is a special offer for you right now you, have two days to decide I think, that wouldn't lower the effectiveness of it at all and you, could do that and then again it becomes basically, annoying, but. It doesn't do any real harm, and. One. Of the things you know the gut reaction, we get to, saying, there's something wrong with this ID like this I think it comes from pushing, people off the fence which. Is something that you have to do a lot or that's basically one of the things you would be doing in in most marketing, especially in Direct Selling is that. You, know anyone who comes to your sales, page let's say where you offer your product, most. People, will sit on the fence right some people will be like yes I want this right away maybe. They read some of your copy to for, a bit of extra convincing, but they're basically already on board and they're gonna buy and some, people are gonna see it introducing, like no never, I'm never gonna buy this and, they're gonna leave but. Most people, are gonna, sit on the fence so. They're going to look at the product say well yeah this might be really good for me this might be exactly what I need but, should I buy now or later and, you know should I spend this amount of money is, this in my budget you. Know maybe I could save this for something else whatever, so they're sitting on the fence and simply. Not making a decision and so, a lot of copywriting. And a lot of things like scarcity, are essentially, pushing people off the fence saying. Make a decision rights now or never and that. Feels, it well it's pressure, and. It feels like well that's not really a nice thing to do to someone and I. Tend to agree but, again I think the amount of harm that does is minimal. Right, it's it's a very very small amount, of, harm that does and it's, not the biggest leverage. Point you, see if you if you push someone off the fence to buy a crappy, product that they're gonna be disappointed in and, it's gonna cost them a lot of money that's our ethical, right that's, where the real damage happens, is because your products crap and it cost too much and you're essentially doing financial, damage to someone right, that is that's, bad but whether or not there was a countdown timer on the page isn't really that's not really the point because. If you push someone off the fans to. Buy a thing that's really useful for them and they enjoy it and it's you know reasonably, priced then. What. Harm was really done right the, actual harm that was done is that you made them feel slightly uncomfortable by putting pressure on them that's, very little harm done now having said that this brings me into the territory, of a very common excuse, with. A very common thing that I don't know you here with copywriting, and marketing, and suffer it's like oh you know you're doing people a favor, you're doing people a favor by, basically pushing them into buying your product because your product is so great and they'll.

Be Happier by doing this I think, you know there's some validity to, this because. Again if you take the model I presented it you know if the vet if the product being brings real value into people's lives and all, you're doing is you're putting a little bit of pressure on them you you, know doing this much harm and then you do this much good through your product I think, that is valid. At least in this simple model that I presented you can say yes this is a good thing to do you should do it, but. I also think that you know the more you feel like you need to justify, your actions with, such thinking the. More I would examine what the hell you're doing okay. Because and I I have, to say like I often, see people talk about this you. Know where, it really feels like they're trying to make themselves feels good because they actually feel guilty about what they're doing and what they're selling right and they're, trying to convince themselves, with this story so, my. Note, about this would just be the more you cling on to a story like that the more you should examine what, you're doing because you probably you know this is it's clearly a feeling of guilt there and maybe, that's a sign that something, should be done differently now. Let's go next example what, about faking ours so where, someone signs up for a webinar and. You know it's like this is live webinar, but actually, it's. A pre-recorded, webinar right, so it. Seems like they're joining a live, webinar maybe even with chat and things like that and you know the host on the webinar is pretending, like it's live but actually they're just watching a video so. Okay. Is that unethical, again that I think this is a really. Clear. Example of, something that's annoying that. Might. You know if you if you join a webinar like that you get really involved you may be you enter stuff in the chat you, don't get replies, and, you you, see oh my god this is our last minute offer and you buy it and then you learn oh this is just a recording it runs all the time you, could feel really, deceived. And betrayed by that really feels really bad so. Again. That causes a bit, of suffering because of that and also it's deceptive, if, you make people believe this is one thing where there's another thing you're. You're part of the problem and like, I said before right the more people are being deceptive, the more people are lying about everything, the, lower everyone's, life quality becomes.

So Yes deception, is unethical just, like with the Evergreen countdown I think there is a solution to this which is you can use pre-recorded. Events. And just tell people right, you don't have to pretend like this is live you, can say this is a limited-time this is timed. You, know limited time available, recording. Another thing, that I've seen done, is. That you know people will do webinars, and they will make recordings, available but, they say look you this recording is only available for the next three days and, after that I'm going to delete it and again. That's you know you can say well they don't have to they could keep it available and so on but. I don't see the problem with that I don't see the problem is saying look this. Is a live thing or you can catch it in the next few days but if you don't and it's just over there's, nothing wrong with doing that even, if people might be annoyed by it so now let's get to an example that I think is a very important, example which is is. Pre-selling, a product that you haven't, created yet, unethical. And this. Is probably why I was asked about this is probably why I was asked to give my opinion on this because this is something that I do and, that I teach so. I have, done this many times before I've done it twice this year already where I sell a course and, by. The time so when the marketing, for the course starts the actual. Course doesn't exist yet and by. The time people by the time kind of the course opens up that's about the time people can buy it and get in the. Some, of the course exists, so maybe 20%, to, 30%, or so of the course exists, but. Then the rest of the course will be rolled out over the coming weeks and, this. Is something that I have done and so there's two versions of this let's quickly distinguish, right there's pre selling where you basically say listen I'm going to make this course and you. Can pre-order, it right now, at. A lower price and then once it. Starts, you get in right, that's, one thing the other thing is that you have you, start selling the course and part of it is available but not all of it all right so, if that is that unethical, I think, that the pre selling example is actually the simpler, example. Because it's very clear you say that this is a pre sale you're you're placing, an order for a thing to, get it once, it is ready right, and the. Other thing is it's mainly about clear communication. And this is actually something that happened, with. The two courses I launched this year there was a communication, problem because it's the first one I launched it as a pre-sale, so. People knew I'm pre-ordering.

A Thing and I'm gonna get access to it in like two weeks or something like that right and the. Second, one was, a, you. Could buy it and you could access it immediately but, only the first module, was available out of three modules and this, wasn't communicated. Very clearly not, intentionally. Right we didn't we, didn't like try to deceive anyone but we realized afterwards that oh yeah you could actually go. Through the sales page and it, was easy to miss the fact that you, were buying something that would be released over the next few weeks and. We did get some people who felt disappointed. Because of that and I. Think that that clearly, illustrates, kind. Of the ethical question here I said if you're clear, about what's happening, if you clearly communicate, what's happening then, there is no ethical, problem, with that so what we should have done in the second, course right ideally. We would have been. Better at communicating, hey by, the way you can buy this right now and you can access module one right now but. All. The stuff will be released over the next three or four weeks. But. Clearly that's not a problem because if you tell people straight up this is what's happening right you're pre-ordering, a product you get access, to it later they still buy it so. Given, the choice as long as people aren't being deceived it, is not unethical to, pre-sell, now there's a specific, reason why I. Do, pre, selling and why I also teach pre selling and that is. That it is, a way to develop better, products, that's especially true with online courses so with both courses I've done this year these, courses are better because, I rolled them out like this, because. What happens is that people start, accessing the course they start accessing those first twenty to thirty percent of the course and there's. Comments, and so P I interact, with people and people ask questions, and so on and based. On those interactions, that. Shapes, some, of the rest of the course so. In both of these courses, there. Are parts, of it that really were informed. The feedback I got from my customers so, if I'm simply, sitting. By. Myself and trying, to build the entire course trying to build a 100%, of the course, kind. Of in my head and then, I release it to customers, I will then find out that you know I missed the mark on some things or there are some questions people have that I wasn't anticipating and, things, like that so then I would have to maybe go back and make corrections and so on so. For me doing, a pre-sale on a course is a way to kind of do, a lean development, of the course, and. I can course correct and, I can change my structure, slightly, and in some cases I have had examples of this you, know where I make fairly, large changes, based. On you know once, I get customers, and once I interact with customers see oh there's. Something here that I didn't consider right, that I didn't consider when I was planning the course and writing the outline and so on and it. Makes a big difference to the course and it makes a big difference to the quality of course that people get and, ultimately. This makes a better product, and a. Better product helps, more people achieve. The desired outcome, and that. Is good that is doing good so. If you do a pre-sale without, deceiving, anyone about it and you. Do it in, order to build a better product for people and, it is an ethically positive, thing to do it it does no harm and, it, does more, good so, here comes what I think is an important. Factor, in, the. Ethical, question which. Is are you acting in good faith or, in bad faith right, if you, pre sell a course and you're. Doing it in good faith which is the intention, is pre. Selling the course will help me make, a better course for my customers, and I, fully intend to do that I fully intend, to deliver on all my promises and I fully intend to, work to, make, the best course possible, then.

This. Is not a problem right you don't deceive people and you're acting in good faith if you act in bad faith if you're basically saying you know what I could, pre sell this thing and, get. A bunch of people's money and then you know whatever, maybe I'll just not deliver the course at all and like you know 20%, of people will forget to ask for a refund or, I'll just make people jump through a ton of hoops to get a refund and I'll still have some money now they don't have to make an actual course now, that's a scam right that's deception. And that is acting in bad faith where you're basically doing something motivated, by greed and you're. Intentionally, looking, to do harm to people for, your personal, benefit that's, a completely, different story but, again note that you. Have to look at the right thing because the question, of whether it's ethical or not is ultimately. Not dependent, on whether you pre-cell or not is, the pending on on what you do right it does there are many things that you can do in the course of a launch of a product launch that make. It either ethical, or on unethical. But, whether or not you pre sell isn't one of those things it's not one of the indicators, that tells you whether this is ethical or unethical and, now another question here is what if you're a beginner, what if you've never made a course before and you pre sell a course even. If you're acting in good faith what if it turns out you're not capable of making the course that. You promised, that you wanted to make so. That becomes, a problem then and again it depends, on whether you act in good faith or in bad faith and there's actually an example of this where I'm not going to name names but, recently, there. Was, a scandal that I kind of heard about where. An Instagram, Fitness influencer. Was. Selling, some, kind of a fitness, program or fitness coaching, or something, and she made tons of sales and, she. Didn't deliver a product and. Obviously. People very angry about this but the thing is that her, response, to it was, that she was basically saying well we were just you know was overwhelmed. We. Couldn't handle all these orders you know we were trying our best and we just couldn't.

Where. And as, far as I know and that's one of the reasons of not naming names is I don't know if this situation, has changed since but when I heard about this she. Was basically playing the victim but she wasn't offering, any refunds, to anyone right, she was basically saying well you know you should feel sorry for me because I was so stressed and so on it was just a mistake I made but. I'm gonna keep your money and I'm not gonna deliver a product, well that is acting, in bad faith so. And I think that's the, concern is well what happens if, I fail essentially. What happens if I fail well. Again, I think. If you're not being deceptive, and you're acting in good faith it's not gonna be a problem of course. If she was just honest and said listen before it's before it's a scandal you know the moment she sees oh my god I can't deliver this thing if she closed the car and said listen update. To everyone I'm, sorry I'm totally overwhelmed, I can't do this I'm sending out refunds to everyone right now of, course that wouldn't be great for her brand right but, I think, most people would forgive her right most people would be a bit disappointed, but, I think a lot of people would say yes I get it you know you you, tried this thing it didn't work out you just got far too many people or, you got stressed or whatever you maybe some personal issues got in the way and disappointed. I didn't get the product I wanted but but I get, it you're a human being and I. Think most of her fans would, not abandon her because of that right I think we tend to be forgiving, when someone is being honest, and vulnerable but. The. Way she reacted was basically to try and not. Mention. It until people got super angry and then make an excuse and still not give people their money back that's that's. Deceptive and that's unethical, because. You're doing financial, damage to people and you're doing financial damage to people that you could easily avoid. So, if that's a concern that you have with, pre-selling. Then I have, two recommendations right, if you if you're new to making a product and you're concerned about pre selling as, long as you're acting in good faith my. Two suggestions are number one make about a quarter, of the product before you, start selling it so did you you can see you know if I've done one quarter of the product I can see how long it took me I can see what it's like if. I can make 25 percent of this product I can make the other 75% right so that gives you some safety, against, kind, of this risk of catastrophic failure if, you will and the. Second thing is if for some reason. That still happens, if you still can't deliver well then give people refunds, and don't. Spend the money that, you're making on selling, your product until you've finished, the product right, sorry I think this is really not something that we have to be concerned, with as long as we are willing to do the right thing as long as we're willing to act ethically, then.

I Don't see this as a problem at all now I want to get deeper into this because like I said I'm really interested in the topic of ethics. But let's, have like a quick interim. Summary from. Examples, we've looked at so far right. My point is I think it's important to ask the right questions, and to look at the, right things because. You, know, looking. At kind of these things like countdown, timers, pre-recorded. Webinars. Pre. Selling a product looking at these things and trying to make a judgement of is this ethical, or unethical that's. Kind of a gut reaction like we feel bad about something maybe and and. We try to say well this is unethical it ought not to be done but. The. The point is that we're looking at the wrong things because a business, can do all of these things and be ethical, or business can do none of these things and be unethical, and in, fact let's. Go through a hypothetical, example, of just that because. I think the actual levers, of what makes something ethical, or unethical in marketing and in business lie. Elsewhere, so. Let's take, two. Example. Businesses, we, have a. Business. We, have the we have the photo gear business, ok business one is photo gear business and, what. They do is, their. Product is a, device. That you add to your camera and it's made for professional, photographers and, this, device adds a bunch of advanced, features to. Your camera so you know maybe like advanced time lapse features, or motion, detection features so you can like set it up in photograph wildlife when when something walks by and, whatever. Right advanced, stuff, for professional, photographers and let's. Say that this piece of hardware is, very expensive let's, say it costs $1000 and it, does this. Product does exactly what it says if, you buy this product you give this company $1000, they ship you this thing you attach it to your camera comes. With an app and. It. Does what it says it gives you the features that are advertised right, and let's. Say this company, does. A lot of stuff that is potentially. Annoying right so you go to their website and immediately there's, an, interrupting. Light box where they try, to get you to sign up for something maybe, you can get an app for free that has some functions, that are useful for photographers and, when you get it it always tries to upsell, you to this expensive. Device they have, and on, their email list you know the hammer you with emails all the time they, run webinars. That, are you know pre-recorded. Webinars those countdown, timers everywhere they do all this stuff we talked about right to do all this stuff they. Push hard on their marketing, but you can opt out and. You can choose not to buy the thing you, can uninstall the app and, you can leave and it's no problem like I said if you buy the thing, you, get exactly what, you were sold, so. This. Is an example of an ethical business I don't. Think that any form. Of like. Pushy marketing, makes, this unethical, right they because, they, have this product they're. Pushing hard to get the right people to buy it and more on that in a bit. And and, it's fine example, 2 is. The forever slim company, okay forever, slim company they sell a, miracle. Weight-loss pill, alright, and, in. Terms of marketing it's very simple they only have a sales page and on, this sales page they don't have interruptive, pop-ups they don't have countdown timers they don't have fake, webinars they don't have anything like that all. They, have is sales copy that. Makes people, that. Makes anyone who reads it feel. Like they're worthless as a. Person, unless they lose weight and. Makes. Them feel like everything, else doesn't work right you've tried exercise, it doesn't work you've tried diets, doesn't, work this doesn't work and you're a piece of if you don't lose weight and the only solution is this, pill right, we, sell the weight-loss pill you take this pill solves all your problems. You'll. Lose, weight to be worthy as a person once again you'll be attractive, and so on and so forth and it, also costs a lot of money and of course doesn't work right. Of, course it doesn't work you get a bunch of pills that have. Either. Inactive, ingredients, or maybe some ingredients potentially do some harm because it wasn't properly tested and. This. Business like I said they don't do any of the annoying marketing stuff all, they do is, they sell a product in bad faith that, doesn't work they. Take people's money they.

Make It very very difficult near, impossible, to get a refund and they. Target, people who, are, essentially victims and they. Poke. The wounds. Of those people, I basically. Target desperate, people they poke the balloons of those people and to get as much money as they can this is an unethical business. The reason I'm contrasting. These two businesses is again to just highlight that, the the technicalities. Of whether there's pop-ups on the website whether it's a pre-recorded, webinar and so on it, just doesn't matter that's not what makes the big difference when it comes to how, much good, does this do and how much harm does this do because, our camera, gear company, on. The, whole they're. Ethically, relatively. Neutral leaning. Towards positive because they don't do any real harm and you. Know they deliver a bunch of features for professional, photographers which, maybe gives. Them some enjoyment makes it easier for them to do their job so, bring, something, positive right so on the whole they, do some. Good, they don't do dramatically, good right it's not like making the world a better place but. They do some good and they do almost no harm that's ethical whereas the forever, slim company, is. Targeting. People who are, victims. Making them feel more like victims taking. Their money like basically making them feel bad that's doing harm taking. Their money that's doing harm, making. Them possible for them to get their money back that's, doing harm and they're. Not doing any good right, so, that's what matters that, is what matters when it comes to. That question, of ethical. Marketing so, what does that mean well for one thing obviously scams, are, unethical, right, scams are like the ultimate acting. In bad faith but. Another thing that I think is very important, for marketing, is, who's. Your target market. Because. The thing is right if you have our. Camera. Business or, camera gear example, they, are targeting, professional. Photographers, and really. They can only target professional, photographers the nature of their business but they can't go and go to the average person, who's not a photographer, and try to sell them this thing no matter how hard they push if you don't even own a. DSLR. Or you know a professional level camera, then. You can't use this device so. Naturally. Their entire target market is going to be people who. Who. This product is useful for and who. Already spend probably thousands, on camera gear right so the buying power is also there right, they're selling an expensive, two people who, are in the habit of buying expensive products, and you. Know professional, photographers they use their gear to make their money so it's basically a business investment because the product delivers, on the promise, there's no problem there so, the question, of the target, market is very important, because unfortunately. There. Is often. A lot of money to be made by, targeting, desperate, victims right. You get people really the more desperate someone, is, the. More you can kind of victimize, them in marketing, and this is also something you're probably familiar with if you just studied, copywriting, and marketing is that you you. Want to be familiar with what are the pain points and the frustrations. Of people, in your target market and you essentially want to amplify that pain what are the problems, that plague people in my target market and. You want to remind them of those problems, and that, Prime's someone, to, buy something as, a solution, right because. In my everyday going around I might not be thinking about this problem right now but if I see your marketing thing that reminds, me of that problem reminds, me how annoyed I am about this that. Makes me ready to buy a solution, and, you. Can do this basically, the more pain someone's, already suffering, the more desperate. Someone. Is the, more of a victim someone is the. More you can push those buttons, you. Know the put people in a desperate situation with like well. Anything. I'll do anything to solve this horrible problem and and. You can amplify, that problem, for them you can make that problem worse and then sell them a solution that. Isn't a real solution right, and unfortunately I mean a lot of a lot, of, consumerism. And a lot of marketing essentially. Functions like that and interestingly you, know we like, to look at a CD, you'll. Make money with forex trading, type, of sales. Page and say, you know this is the example of unethical marketing. Right this is this is bad and it is it is bad but, the, most mainstream kind, of advertising, works, exactly like that right, the most mainstream, stuff.

That That we, see everywhere, basically. Makes you feel like crap for. Various, things right your life is not as you, know you're not slim enough you know attractive, enough you, know rich enough you're not successful enough and so on shows, you examples, of people who are younger, and fitter and better-looking and happier than you and associates. A product with it often unrelated, right it's like oh you see a bunch of people having fun and then it's an ad, for a mobile. Phone company, like right. But, that's what they're doing they're basically, they're creating. A problem they're making, people. Feel inadequate and, they're saying hey this this hole in your heart you can fill it with my product so unfortunately that is a common way to, do marketing and I, think that is often with with mainstream, stuff the more mainstream something. Is the more likely it's doing. Something like that right and the. More niche a product is the more specific a, product. Is kind, of a micro business very, rarely does anything like that so, that's also one of the reasons why you know I think this kind of business you know you make it a niche online. Course teaches something something, useful, that's. A great business if you if you kind of widen. The scope and you go yeah like I said you know with weight loss right you make people feel miserable about their weight and then you you. Sell them some solution, that's not a real solution, that. Goes into unethical. Territory quite quickly so that's one of the questions I would ask that I think matters. Right who are you targeting are you targeting victims, and also how, much are you charging right. How how pricey is your product compared, to the. Buying, power of people. In your target market that's. Another thing you know it's one thing to sell an, expensive. Product to people who have money to spend it's another thing to kind of squeeze, someone, who is desperate for their last penny and again. That's often, the case right often, the worst offenders. Are really. They work like that they go after desperate. People's, money. Encourage. Them you know typical, like MLM type thing I'd encourage people to go in debt to. Get in and then with a promise of making it up later and stuff like that that's horrible. And so the question is who are you targeting. Another. Thing is that I often think is totally overlooked these are like are you participating, in, the problem, by default right, so, there are things that are problematic, but, normal, there, are things that are unethical, but, everybody does them and, you.

Know As an example I think that most. Social, media use, is. Clearly being shown to do more harm than good are, we there's been various studies that show that people are less, socially, connected, ironically, spend. Less time with in, real life interactions. Are more likely to be depressed and suicidal and, so on the more they use social media and, I'm. Not, going to go into great detail on this I'll link to some sources and in the show notes if, you want to do further reading or if that sounds suspicious. To you, but. The idea is that basically. The more people use social media the worse off they are and, if you're participating, in, this. Problem so you know if you are participating, in the thing of trying, to post. Pictures. Of yourself, that, make your life look amazing. And. Kind of curate, oh my god look at how happy and I am, and how great everything is. To. Get more likes and whatever if, you're participating in that even though it's completely normal. That's, unethical you're taking, part in. One. Of the problems, that, that. Is plaguing our society right and I know that this is probably gonna this probably gonna trigger a lot of people that I just said that right because it's all well and good to talk about you, know some some scammy, weight-loss, pill thing right we can all feel superior. You, don't feel well I were I wouldn't do that right but. That's the thing we have a blind spot for. Things that are normal, but. If you're participating in, something and then another thing of course is rampant consumption, right. Where. We have the ecological, footprint, of people, who, are you. Know like, relatively. Well-off in developed. Countries, is, a catastrophe right, we, are participating, in the problem, of the destruction, of our environment and, that's. Unethical but, it's normal right everybody, does it so never. Mind right, and. This. Is another this is another thing I wanted to I wanted to point out right because often. This is again D this is the Sharks vs. cows problem, right, the thing that looks. Scary the shark looks scary and it attacks, you and there's, blood and stuff that's terrible that's what we're afraid of that's a gut response it, doesn't mean that that's the thing that we should be afraid of in rationally we also shouldn't be afraid of cows because, cows, kill almost, one just like sharks kill almost no one we should be afraid of hamburgers, alright, hamburgers. And deep fried food because, it actually kills. So. Many people, very, slowly without blood right, it's, not scary it doesn't stalk you at night doesn't hunt you down, but. You, know the food we eat kills, a lot of people but. We're not scared of it because it doesn't look scary so. It's the Sharks vs. hamburgers, problem, that we also have when we look at you know the the, forex trading product, or the whatever. Product, on a scammy looking sales page that's what gets us going but. Then if I start pointing out you know maybe hamburgers, and social media or the problem now. I've made everyone my enemy because, nobody like, to point at other people and say that's unethical no buddy wants to point at us what, wants people to point at us and say we're unethical, right and this. Is a this is also one of the reasons why I'm I, don't like the misuse of a. Word like ethics. Kind. Of to to vent about, things that annoy you because, I think ethics, it's. An important topic and it's, a very unpleasant topic, okay, for, most of us the very unpleasant topic it's very difficult to live in our world and be, ethical, because, the default is not ethical and talking, about this there's another problem that I think is is kind of it's, also sharks with ambergris, problem which is that certain, topics, in certain industries just automatically. Seem. More suspicious and, are. Just more likely to, attract, people's hires so anything, that is related to you know making money online right, that's automatically. Seems like all really, that. Seems fishy right, and. And, of course this is something that I've that. I notice, a lot because the. Products I sell are always, kind. Of related or not always but often kind, of related to this, and. I make sure never, to frame. A product. As kind, of a you know an easy making, money opportunity, but. Still you know I mean I sell marketing. Software it's supposed, to increase conversions, on your website it's supposed, to make you more money right so and. That automatically, is kind of suspect right. It's automatically, done, a scam because of course there's a lot of it it's very easy to kind of scam people I say oh you make so much money just give me some money and then you'll make so much money right, it's a common scam and so, that's a an industry.

Anything. Related to kind of business opportunities, making money this kind of thing is automatically. Kind of suspicious, and feels. A bit scammy but then if we if we look at all the criteria. We've looked at right if let's. Say you buy my course my most recent course, cost a few hundred dollars and, is, yes supposed, to help you build a business that generates, income so, right away it's like a hold on is this a scam but. You know then we have something like college degrees and what. Was that in. In. Unfortunately. In increasing. Numbers of countries in the world, people. Are getting into debt, to. Get college degrees and, America. Is the worst example, of this however people get horribly, indebted, in order to get a college degree and why well. What's the what's the reason given well it is to make money essentially. Right get. This degree so, you can get a better career you make money and give. Us all this money to. Get the degree because you'll make more money afterwards, but the reality, what's the reality there's so many people walking out of our universities with, degrees with. No useful skills, at all and, they've. Been scammed out of tens, of thousands, of dollars sometimes, hundreds, of thousands of dollars and. They. You know they're saddled with this crippling debt and, they. Have they've. Been they've, had their years stolen, from them right they've had several years stolen, from them for, something the. Economic, value of which is dwindling rapidly. And for, something where you know even if they start in. A in a job they. Have to basically learn from scratch because they didn't learn any actual practical, skills now, that if we, think in the, frame that I laid out here you, know even. If you buy my course for a few hundred dollars and even if it's not that great how. Much harm did that do because. It took very little time and it, took a relatively, small amount of money how much harm does that do versus, a college, degree it, steals several, years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars and does, nothing for you but. Basically nobody, bats an eye at. You. Know society at large pushing, college degrees on people. Because. That's just accepted. It's kind of a social norm it's fine right no questions asked but in terms of yeah in terms of the asking in terms in terms of the financial, damage it does in terms of the opportunity, cost it's. Ethically, far worse it's, far, worse what. A lot of colleges, are doing it's not to say that you know I'm obviously not against. Education. I'm all for good education and, I, think it very much depends you, know where you get a degree and what degree you get but I have just I've seen this myself you know I've I know. People who have marketing degrees and. It's. Just it's. It's shocking to me how little practical. I mean I've met several people with marketing degrees where, I was really shocked at how little, practical. Skill. They had in doing marketing so words basically they, have to learn marketing which watch if they actually want to work there, and the cost of that you know that comes at such a huge cost that's absolutely. Insane so, that, is that is far more of an ethical issue in, my opinion than someone selling a make, money online course. But, once again it really depends on you know again. How much harm does it do how much good does it do and are, you acting in good faith and by that let's go into what I think you know if we bring this back to just online. Marketing right I've kind of taken. A very broad view here, but if, we bring it back to okay you, have an online business you're doing marketing, for your business you're concerned about what is ethical, marketing, what are attica business practices, here here's what, is to me is like the keys of doing this right number. One make a good product base. Your business, around. A good product. That's. Thus the, main thing right anything, where you're trying to wiggle out of that anything, where you're trying to get around that, is, more. Dubious if, the. Core, of your business is I have a product that solves, a certain problem that basically does was it says on the tin and I'm, selling that that. Clears so, many problems, out of the way and it's it puts you in that situation where it's like yeah whether. You put popups on your site whether you have countdowns, whatever you. Sell a good product does what it says number.

One Basis right for ethical. Number. To act in good faith, don't deceive people. Don't. Pretend like you, want. To do something good for your customers when you really you just want to steal their money and then get away with it act. In good faith and. Number three don't, target victims and. I think the best way to do that is to target, a very narrow very, clearly defined niche, of. People who can you know try, to appeal to exactly, the right person who, can make use of your product, and don't. Target. Victims if, you follow these three points if you follow these three keys to ethical, marketing then all, this stuff right up sells and, clickbait. And and fake. Webinars and so on all the stuff that people get annoyed with in marketing are not. Really an ethical problem, that, doesn't make them good practice, like, personally, I don't do most of those things I do some of them but I don't do most of them because. I just don't want to do that kind of thing but, I wouldn't. Call like I said I wouldn't, call it unethical, to do them so there you go the three key is quite a good product act, in good faith and, don't. Target, victims with, your market all right so I've been rambling on about this I would really love, to hear, your thoughts on this I'd really love to hear your questions. About this and your take on this and what make something, ethical. Or unethical and, even. If you disagree with what I said in fact especially if you disagree with what I said I'd really like to hear from you now, you. Can go and leave a comment you can interact by, going to active growth comm forward, slash death, achill okay so that's active growth one ford. Slash ethical. You can leave a voice message there, you can ask questions or leave your comment there or you can just write a comment in the comments field and I will also link to basically. Everything I mentioned everything related to this, episode, there, so thank you for listening in this has been the active, growth podcast. I'm Shane laughs and I'll. See you next time.

2019-04-24 13:24

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Hey Shane, I fully agree with everything you shared in this episode. And I also agree with what Miles said. I also find it unfortunate that this topic is mostly avoided by business owners and marketers. Thanks for covering this topic in depth and doing an amazing job at breaking it down into simple to understand comparisons. As a vegetarian, I no longer participate in the processed meat industry and I hardly use any social media, because I agree that it's causing more harm than good. To be honest, I've opted out of many things in life, because I don't agree with them or find them to be unethical. And as you said, the key is to look under the hood or behind the curtain in order to ascertain whether or not something is unethical and always give someone the option to opt-out of the experience. Thanks for the work you do. Your online videos are more valuable that a lot of academically constipated content being lectured at universities. Congrats and keep it up.

Hey man, I really like you and your content, but there is way too much "empty" time in your videos, thus they are way too long. Maybe you could try record this video again, 10-20 min, only the very essential content, no repetitions, less frame explanations, talking a bit faster and writing down a concrete structure of the content beforehand. I also found in several other videos on your channel, that you address a certain problem, and that's great because the deductions are really on point, but you don't deliver an as well-thought-out solution or suggestion. I think if you would compress the information you want to deliver in compact 10-20 minute videos, with a bit more focus on solving the addressed problem, your magnificently underrated channel would get really popular in no time, and it would also be more beneficial for the spectators. It's quite hard to follow the red line when you constantly cut it during your recordings, just to not really pick it up again. I hope this is somehow useful for you. I would really like to see a development in this direction. Cheers, J

Thank you for your feedback. I understand what you mean and I think it's true for some of my videos. Not so much this one, though. The point of a video like this is not to make it as popular as possible. I think there's plenty of bite-sized content out there already. A video like this is not made for the "I don't want to read the book, I want to fast-forward listen to the summary while doing something else" kind of audience, if you know what I mean. It's made for the (very few) people who do want a deeper dive and don't need to be entertained the entire time. Of course, it may still be that it could be better structured and such, but making it shorter would defeat the point, in my opinion.

This contains excellent, well-thought out, applicable points. I especially appreciate Shane's points that being ethical and being annoying are two different points. It is possible, though, to be ethical while being annoying and possible to be unethical without being annoying Personally, I believe if your marketing resorts to psychological triggers designed to remove the freedom to choose, you are unethical. That said, I think the technique Shane described to push people off the fence to make a decision now is still ethical provided it is honest, I.e. you have a deadline to act that you enforce. For instance, having a "live" evergreen seminar (i.e. pre-recorded) that presents a two day deadline which renews for each viewer of the seminar even six-months after the original is a scam in my opinion. You have a deadline or you don't. Now, if you explain upfront that this deadline applies to you when you view it regardless of when the live seminar was, then you are being upfront and honest, and not scanning anyone.

+ActiveGrowth - Shane, I really enjoy your chats and that you are recording live without a lot of "prep." You've pointed out elsewhere your approach to get it done and out there as opposed to delaying to make it more "Professionally" published. I'm impressed at how well prepared it is and how well-thought out your chats are. For talks that have no advertising and no other revenue to fund them, other than the possible connection to Thrive Themes, I am really grateful.

Thank you for your comment, John!

@ActiveGrowth - Shane, I really enjoy your chats and that you are recording live without a lot of "prep." You've pointed out elsewhere your approach to get it done and out there as opposed to delaying to make it more "Professionally" published. I'm impressed at how well prepared it is and how well-thought out your chats are. For talks that have no advertising and no other revenue to fund them, other than the possible connection to Thrive Themes, I am really grateful.

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