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Unethical Marketing: Thoughts on Transparency and Trust – GM48

Unethical Marketing: Thoughts on Transparency and Trust

Are you practicing unethical marketing? Is there even such a thing as ethical marketing? Find out in this episode of the Grey Matters Podcast.

The one thing I struggle with to this day in the online marketing world is the sales process. The techniques which we can and do use to sell our products or services. 

So much research has gone into “crafting the perfect offer”. In some cases, online marketers spend more time on the sales pitch that they do on the product they are selling, and that offends me. 

I have thin skin when it comes to online ethics.

This week I break down our current project as wee are preparing to take the sales offer to the public. I look behind the scenes at a product launch and the decision-making process we are going through to best strike a balance between effective and manipulative sales.

Are You Practicing Unethical Marketing Techniques?

Show notes:

[0:00] – Steve shares an important update regarding the recently announced “Grey Wave” membership group.

  • The team is currently determining the approach and structure of the webinar.

[1:28] – Steve provides some background on today’s topic: ethics, transparency, and trust.

  • It’s front and foremost on Steve’s mind as he’s working on the content for the webinar.
  • A colleague has recently found himself embroiled in a social media controversy related to his marketing style.

[3:50] – Steve feels like he’s attending a group counseling session.

  • He is having to challenge and reevaluate all his preconceptions about the mechanisms we use to sell and to market—which ones he’s comfortable with, and which ones he isn’t comfortable with.

[5:24] –  A timeout to thank our community on Patreon!

[6:28] – Steve talks about his controversial colleague.

  • The colleague, a marketer, is selling protective masks, and leaning into the divide between mask advocates and anti-maskers through his marketing techniques.
  • He used the story of an anti-masker who reportedly died of COVID-19 to steer people towards buying masks.
  • Essentially, the marketer took advantage of a sad situation to benefit himself, not with a conciliatory approach, but a divisive one designed solely to sell products.

[9:40] – Steve shares his personal journey in determining the marketing style he’ll use for the webinar.

  • The product launch is the culmination of many years of work; in order to do it right, Steve hired coaches to help him.
  • Steve acknowledges his skills as an educator, but recognizes his shortcomings in sales and marketing.
  • Hiring a marketer serves both himself and his community; if he believes his offer is truly beneficial, then convincing more people to take it means helping more people.

[12:30] – Steve mentions a slippery slope or fine line between creating a compelling offer and being distasteful or despicable in your approach.

  • Steve wants to make sure that he’s approaching his marketing from “the right side”; this has created a fascinating dynamic with the coaches he has talked to.

[14:50] – Steve gives a rundown of the standard webinar structure.

  • First, gather an audience and get an idea of who your audience is.
    • Create a kinship by creating the feeling that there’s value, which in turn creates social proof.
    • Beyond that, webinars are structured to help set the stage for latecomers, without taking too long to get to valuable content.
    • The host needs to build a relationship with the  audience by using the know, like, and trust factor.
  • There are differences in approaching a warm audience versus a cold audience.
    • Your audience should know who you are and understand your motivation.
    • You can accomplish this by describing a common pain, setting expectations, and creating a unified mission.
    • You don’t want to waste people’s time and you don’t want to have dissenters in the chat, which is why you want to challenge people at this point.
  • Next, tell the story.
    • Go through the narrative (the bulk of the webinar), and make the audience understand the value being offered.
  • At the part where you start selling and establishing the price, that’s where it becomes challenging.
    • One technique is “laddering” – essentially asking what the audience would be willing to pay for your offer.
    • One can overcome audience objections by answering questions straight up, referring to a compelling backstory, or (often) through testimonials and social proof.
    • Another technique is upselling, which is selling a base product, but making more profit by showing additional “upgrades”; this borders on unethical marketing.
    • Yet another technique is the layering of bonuses—increasing the value of an offer until it becomes an “overwhelming offer.”
      • What makes this unethical marketing is that said bonuses often aren’t used, even though they were the decisive element that pushed the consumer to buy (ergo, it’s manipulative).
    • The last technique, and another big one, is scarcity.

[30:50] – Steve talks about scarcity as one of the most powerful tools for selling products and services.

  • The “fast action bonus” creates a sense of urgency to help potential buyers make that purchasing decision; this has made scarcity one of the most intriguing aspects of online sales.
  • Steve believes that artificially creating a sense of scarcity just to push sales is NOT a legitimate use of the concept as a social trigger.

[34:11] – Steve shares how the next few weeks will be crucial.

  • Steve explained why he decided to move slowly in marketing this webinar.
  • He also described online businesses as “a work in progress.”

[37:30] – Steve’s parting thoughts.

  • An invitation to share this episode with any Baby Boomers or Gen Xers who might be a good fit for Grey Wave membership.

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