If you do not like something, then you have two options to do something about it. Either you decide to do something AGAINST it or you decide to be FOR something that acts as a counter-force to what you do not like.
Which one is more likely to yield results and helps to succeed in solving problems and resolving conflicts eventually? I recently read something that made a strong case for the PRO approach, illustrated by a political example that anybody could easily relate to and has an opinion about.
It was a somewhat political publication of course, so I won’t mention the name and the author, because my intention is not to write a political post here. This publication is not the appropriate place for that kind of debate.
I will use the same example though to make my argument, but will not argue about the political issue itself.
I want to focus on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of each approach. Our lives is made up of decisions and choices and each and every one of us uses the ANTI (or AGAINST) and also the PRO (or FOR) approach every day, most of the time not knowing it and without giving it too much of a thought.
The larger and important an issue is and the more people it affects and got involved, the more it becomes important to understand, which approach is being taken to influence the possible outcome.
The AGAINST (or ANTI) approach promotes force rather than choice. You cannot push and force people to be good and not to do bad things, that never worked. Instead, you have to give them the choice to do the right thing and chances are that they will do so voluntarily.
The AGAINST approach requires the definition of clear set rules for what NOT to do and the creation of some sort of system that polices and punishes violations. It requires to draw a clear line between OK and NOT OKAY on a daily basis. Who is to draw this line and on what basis? Fears that this is prone to be corrupted and manipulated is very realistic and reasonable. It wouldn’t be the question of if this could happen, but when IMO.
A PRO (or FOR) approach is not as easily corruptible and does not have the seed for violent conflict build into it. You demonstrate what should be done rather than forcing everybody not to do something.
It provides people with the choice to do something that they believe is just and right, a choice that they can make entirely voluntarily.
A PRO approach would be for example to demonstrate what behavior is good practices are and how to conduct yourself ethically. People could associate themselves and show allegiance with it on a voluntarily basis to put their money where their mouth is for the public to see (if doing the right thing is combined with the loss of or not realization of profits that could have been made otherwise).
A PRO approach is IMHO the better approach to counter the stuff that is bad and unethically. I base my statement on my believe that an sentient individual human being wants to do the right thing. This holds true for the majority of people at least IMO. There is no point in arguing, if you do not believe this. I used to be one of those who believed that people are bad, egoistic and intolerant by nature, but that changed over the past years.
Think about this! Which approach is more likely to resolve the conflict in the Middle East for example? An ANTI–War approach or a PRO–Peace one? Arguing AGAINST the war, creates a conflict with anybody who has the slightest argument for it, as small as it might be. This does not solve anything and nothing will happen, because you will never get beyond the debate itself. Argue PRO peace and you find yourself in a position where people can agree and act upon, regardless if they believe that the war is justified or not.
Using the war in Iraq as an example allows me to illustrate the radical difference between the PRO and ANTI/AGAINST approaches. But what does this have to do with Search Marketing or Online Marketing in general?
A lot, if you read what I wrote carefully, it should have become obvious. Search Marketing and also Affiliate Marketing have both reputation problems that potentially harm the industry and probably impact the growth of internet marketing as a whole negatively.
There is for example the movement in the affiliate marketing called Performance Marketing Alliance (short PMA) that attempts the formation of some sort of association or organized movement to address problems that folks in this industry are facing and that impact their businesses in a negative way. Legislative issues that limits the means of conducting business altogether, misconceptions that prevent recognition and acceptance, automatic associations with business practices that are considered bad and unethical by the general public, even if the majority does not engage in those are just some of the reasons that demonstrate the need for some form of organized activities to counter them.
The search marketing industry is already a step further, because it has already some types of organizations and associations that to the least represents a considerable large cross section of the people in the industry, even if they are not unified do not include everybody yet. The industry as a whole still struggles with the same issues that are similar to the issues faced by the affiliate marketing industry and there is up to this day disagreement about how to approach it.
And here is where it becomes essential and to the core of what I am trying to convey with this post, because decisions have to be made whether a PRO or ANTI approach should be used to solve those issues. There are arguments for an ANTI approach, that suggest the specification of laws and rules that dictate and define all that which is bad and should not be done in order to differentiate the “bad guys” from the “good guys”.
I hope that I illustrate effectively that this type of approach is deemed to failure, at least in the long ground and that any approach that would have the potential to be successful has to be a PRO one. A PRO approach seems to be harder at first and results will not be dramatic in a short period of time, but it will allow change over time that will be permanent and in the end have the desired results.
Keep this always in mind, because it is relevant beyond the issues of war or business ethics in online marketing.
Carsten Cumbrowski is an internet marketer, independent blogger and entrepreneur. Carsten also operates a free resources website that caters to internet marketers and entrepreneurs like him, including a list of online marketing industry organizations and associations to participate in.