The other day, my husband and I ran across a Web site that was slickly promoting something that both of us felt was a marketing tactic just this side of spam. James retorted, “Yuck, what a bottom feeder!”
Of course, the Internet is littered with spammy useless sites. We paused and wondered, if these things are so awful, why do they make money? Why are unethical business practices rewarded?
The guy who created the Web site that was such an enormous turn off to us probably doesn’t think of himself as a unethical bottom feeder. In fact, Mr. Bottom Feeder probably thinks he’s performing a great service bringing more traffic to his client’s Web sites.
When you get down to it, ethics are really a matter of opinion. In the book, So You Want to Write the authors point out that “villains are heroes to themselves.”
It’s all in your perspective. Many criminals say things along the lines of “if those people were dumb enough to leave the door unlocked, they deserve to get ripped off!”
Partnerships and joint ventures can be a valuable part of doing business. Obviously, you don’t want to partner up with someone you consider a bottom feeder. As you reach out to prospective partners, you need to trust your intuition.
As noted, ethical vs. unethical is in the eye of the beholder. Along with trusting your gut, you should have a firm handle on your own values before you seek out partners (even if it’s just for something fairly small like a book launch campaign).
What are the goals you have for your customer? In our case, we want our customers:
- To be happy and feel good about their purchases.
- To solve the problem that bought them to us.
- To get what they paid for in the manner they expected.
- To experience honest communication from us.
- To know we care what they think about working with us.
Your goals may be different than ours. It doesn’t really matter. As you are seeking out partners, ideally you want to work with people whose goals and values are in alignment with yours.
Many partnerships fall apart because of ethical differences. Although what the partner is doing may not technically be illegal, immoral, or even wrong, it may be uncomfortable for you.
Just because someone is a “guru” or “expert” doesn’t make them a good partner for you. Don’t be afraid to be true to your own values. Whether someone is a bottom feeder or a hero is really up to you.