Getting beyond the irony of ethics

Ever notice that the media makes special mention of the job or volunteer efforts of a sex offender when that person is a priest or a Scout leader? Or makes a point about a â??formerâ? Eagle Scout being arrested for a crime?

The obvious reason is to get your attention, to get you to buy the newspaper or keep your finger off the remote controlâ??s channel button. They know that the irony of those situations grab you. Irony is powerful stuff.

Why? Because your expectations for the priest, the Scout leader and the Eagle Scout are already formed in your mind, and their story shatters those expectations.

Hopefully, your expectations are that the priest is a celibate and trusted man of God who loves children, rather than lusting for them.

Likewise, I hope you expect the Scout leader and the Eagle Scout are Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent (the 12 points of the Scout Law), instead of felonious, creepy, and perverse.

Given recent history, itâ??s not surprising that the expectations for corporate execs and elected officials are so much lower. We have so many examples to choose from: Savings and loan failures, Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing. You know the names.

And then of course, there is Washington.

With annoying regularity over the last 20 years, Congressional reps, Senators, and White House staffers have paraded into hearings for one thing or another. One rep probably found it amazing that he wasnâ??t trusted outside his home state because law enforcement found 90 grand in his freezer. I suppose that behavior might be normal for elected officials, but for the rest of usâ?¦.well, it’s a bit suspect. He was re-elected, by the way. He was a better alternative than his opponent in the minds of his constituents.

But it’s not limited to DC. Montana residents are likely aware of a lovely display of â??statesmanshipâ? in the Montana House this week (details at http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/04/26/news/state/20-lange_v.txt). I guess Lange never learned about the “Dont say anything that you dont want your grandmother to read in the paper” rule.

Meanwhile, there are honest, decent Senators, Representatives, bureaucrats etc. Theoretically, at least.

Why am I talking about this, and how does this affect the entrepreneur’s thinking, much less their marketing?

Because you should be better. You HAVE to be better.

With the air of cynicism we have, the general level of mistrust in politicians, bureaucrats and corporate business execs in the news for the wrong reasons, and the reputations of the used car and timeshare salespeople â?? itâ??s easy to get lumped into the shyster mold. In some cases, the reputation has been earned by, as usual, a few bad apples.

I know of at least one timeshare place that doesn’t do business even remotely close to the way we’ve ALL seen it done. You know the places I’m talking about. They’re the ones with people whose hard sell makes anyone else’s hard sell seem like Shrinking Violet.

In Missouri (and probably elsewhere), legislation had to be passed to limit â??Going out of businessâ? sales only to those businesses who were really truly going out of business. I There was one business I remember in particular that â??went out of businessâ? 3 or 4 times a year until this law was passed.

Look, I know that most business owners and entrepreneurs are straight up folks. That message needs to get made to your prospects and your clients. Got hard proof? Testimonials? Use em.

Remember, the smart marketer analyzes the likely sales objections up front and turns them into selling points. Strengths, not weaknesses. Being the town liar and cheat isn’t one of those you can turn around.

When I do business with you, I want to be able to let you hold my wallet while I jump in the pool. If I can’t, if your prospects and clients cant, or don’t feel they could…you’ve got trouble.

For a little empirical â??evidenceâ? of societyâ??s mindset, consider this Jacob Brackman comment:

â??A generation is coming of age in America that doesnâ??t take the news straight, that doesnâ??t take the utterances of public figures straight, that doesnâ??t take social games straightâ?¦it sees giant con games everywhere.â?

Brackman said that â?¦.. in 1971. 35 YEARS AGO.

Think it’s any better today? 35 years ago was before Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater, and so on.

But that was them. We’re talking about you and your credibility with the prospect. Just like marketing, it’s work, even if you’re an angel. Testimonials don’t just crawl up in your lap and say Howdy.

On the other hand, it should be easy standing out from the crowd. So make a point of doing so, for the right reasons.

Can I trust you to hold my wallet?