True Professionalism – A future reality or a continuing Marketing Pipedream ?
Critics often charge that marketing is the functional area most likely to be the source of unethical behaviour in a business. As evidence, these critics point toward instances of deceptive advertising, unscrupulous sales tactics, misrepresented product capabilities, and unfair pricing tactics. For more than a century, marketers have been singled out as the perpetrators of unethical actions against buyers.‘ This is because marketing is the business function most responsible for communicating with prospects and customers and satisfying their needs. As such, the actions of marketers are very clearly in the public view and susceptible to close scrutiny.
Individual marketers currently have to balance their own personal value systems, with the interests of a firm’s internal and external stakeholders. When they enter exchange relationships, marketers must consider the interests of several organisations, including their own – with very little (beyond the law) to use as a guide.
This can be a very difficult balancing act – resulting in making marketers an easy target for critics. Further the business community and society in general tend not to have a lot of respect for our professional standing. Even our own Code of Conduct is not as specific as say that provided by a true profession – such as Law.
At MAANZ, it is our strongly held position that it is in all our interests to establish a strong and detailed professional code of conduct. Unquestionably, in the past many if not most marketers would have eschewed such a code as limiting. Equally, today the standards required by governments and society are getting more precise – so there a growing obligation for practitioners to be more ethical and professional in their conduct.
Strong professional and moral guides and limitations on behaviours are needed to support and enhance our activities and differentiate us from those who would not be so bound. These obligations and constraints will benefit and assist (not hinder) marketers who wish to be true professionals to properly execute exchanges and build relationships of trust with all parties – including the public. The interests of marketers who seek the highest level of professionalism in their conduct are “best served . . . by seeking to build relationships of trust and respect with the various publics with whom the marketer is involved. In the process, [the best interests of] society [are] also served.”