What's Our Role?

Ian Lurie

What’s internet marketers’ role in the world?

[Today’s date, plus the eve of the Jewish New Year, have me more contemplative than usual. Ignore this post if you’re here looking for tutorials or checklists.]

As internet marketers, we don’t build anything, or grow food, or cure disease. Aside from a few exceptions, we also don’t create companies that will contribute to society beyond our lifetimes.

So what’s our job? How do we contribute something lasting? My random ideas:

Practice ethics. It’s about more than staying legal. It’s also much harder. If clients ask you to bend the truth or lie outright in their advertising, say no, and explain why. In internet marketing, ethics is where business goals and the power of the community overlap. Unethical marketing is found out, and the consequences are never pretty.

Practice honesty. Support your clients’ efforts to tell the truth in their marketing. Honesty sells better over the long term anyway.

Feed your family, in person. Clearly a laudable goal, and a good life’s mission in itself. If you have kids, feed their stomachs, and their brains. Spend time with them, too. You learn cool stuff every day. Pass it on.

robin hood hat

Play Robin Hood. Most of us are well-paid mercenaries. We’re paid to compel consumers to buy more stuff. Face it – that’s our job. By doing that work, we build up a surplus of cash, hours, and resources. So why not contribute a little time helping a worthy cause? Help your local food bank accept cash donations online. Or work for your favorite political party. A few hours per month can make a huge difference for them and for you.

Teach others. Work with budding marketers. Teach them how to do brilliant, honest work.

Help someone grow. Many of my clients are small business owners who want to get big. That’s probably true for you, too. If they succeed through smart, ethical marketing, they’ll pass that lesson along.

What else?

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Save the World
    Sort of like Teach Others- take what you are learning and figure out how to make massive positive change with it. For example, I am working on building an internet marketing package that can be taught to biz owners in 3rd world countries in one day or less, for free or near free. This will help them go from people who have the net to people who can use the net to grow their businesses.

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