Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Google Joins the Let-Me-Hijack-Your-Webpage Crowd

"When Web surfers install the [Google] toolbar...and click the AutoLink button, Web pages with street addresses suddenly sprout links to Google's map service by default. Book publishers' ISBN numbers trigger links to Vehicle ID licenses spawn links to, while package tracking numbers connect automatically to shippers' Web sites."

Here we go again. First it was Gator, then Microsoft, and now Google. While I do understand that in many ways this could be an enhancement of the user experience, I have serious problems with the idea of a third party replacing content on a website it didn't create and doesn't own, without permission and with potentially disastrous consequences for the creator of the content.

And I can see this closing the big swinging door in Cyberspace that lets ordinary Joes and Janes compete as equals among the giants...because on the Web, so far, if you create a useful, well-designed site with good information, and you position the site to be found by search engines and other ways to generate traffic, the prospect can choose to patronize a part-time business working from home, that spent a hundred bucks to put up terrific content, as easily as a Fortune 100 corporation that spent millions. It's one of the few things left for the little guy in this world of increasing conglomoratization and centralization--and the implications are not pretty:

  • The site that generated the content has some kind of revenue plan--perhaps direct sales, perhaps advertising on the found page and other pages the visitor might follow, perhaps commissions from affiliate links. By redirecting the visitor to its own chosen vendors, Google is essentially stealing that revenue. Seems to me the person who created the content should be allowed to monetize it. If the creator of the content wants to send people to Amazon to buy, that should be his or her choice, and accompanied with the correct affiliate link.

  • Inevitably, traffic redirection will favor the biggest, best-established, most successful companies--because that's what visitors have heard of, and Google has stated it will reward the most popular sites. This further centralizes the economic engine in the hands of a lucky few, and marginalizes those with innovative products and approaches, but small budgets.

    So, for both economic and ethical reasons, I'd urge Google to re-examine this idea. There may be ways to implement it that address these and other concerns, but until I see them, I will oppose it.

  • Thursday, February 24, 2005

    A Few of my Favorite Marketing Books

    A newsletter editor asked for favorite business books. And having created the list for him, I decided to share it with you. Listing my own two most recent books first is not a matter of ego; I actually do believe they're the best out there in their respective subject areas (note that my other four books don't make the list)--in part because my research and writing incorporated much of the best wisdom I found elsewhere (and I'm a voracious reader). I've written longer reviews of several of these (and others), one per issue in my monthly newsletter, Positive Power of Principled Profit. Archives are posted at (scroll down about two screens)

    1. Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First
    By Shel Horowitz
    Numerous examples of the crucial importance of real, meaningful customer service--the dollar impact of doing it right--or wrong. Much practical advice.

    2. Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World
    By Shel Horowitz
    One-volume course in every aspect of low-cost, high-impact marketing: copywriting, media relations, Internet, personal banding, and more.

    3. Love Is the Killer App : How to Win Business and Influence Friends
    by Tim Sanders

    Helping others--embracing the abundance principle--is a powerful way to grow your own brand--by a (young) senior Yahoo exec

    4. Hug Your Customers : The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results
    by Jack Mitchell (Hardcover)

    A business owner who'll do anything for his customers--even fly across the world to deliver a suit! He turns clothing shopping from commodity to magical experience--and he is very well-compensated.

    5. The Soul in the Computer: The Story of a Corporate Revolutionary
    by Barbara Waugh, Margot Silk Forrest

    Barbara Waugh kept standing up for what's right in her job at HP--and kept getting promoted! Shows how to be very ethical *and * make a difference in the world from within a major corporation.

    6. Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul : A Woman's Guide to Promoting Herself, Her Business, Her Product, or Her Cause with Integrity and Spirit
    by Susan Harrow

    Excellent practical advice for dealing with the media without falling in any snakepits

    7. Winning Without Intimidation : How to Master the Art of Positive Persuasion in Today's Real World in Order to Get What You Want, When You Want It
    by Bob Burg, Bob Berg

    A gazillion awesome strategies for de-escalating and turning conflict into agreement. Bob Burg has changed my life!

    8. The Book of Agreement: 10 Essential Elements for Getting the Results You Want
    by Stewart Levine

    A very successful lawyer explains why collaboration is better than confrontation in the legal system

    9. Co-Opetition: A Revolution Mindset That Combines Competition and Cooperation : The Game Theory Strategy That's Changing the Game of Business
    by Adam M. Brandenburger, Barry J. Nalebuff

    The paradigm that the same businesses are sometimes competitors, sometimes co-operators, sometimes suppliers/customers, and sometimes complementors is extremely helpful in crafting an ethical approach to business.

    10. Cash Copy: How to Offer Your Products and Services So Your Prospects Buy Them
    By Jeffrey Lant

    Not necessarily the definitive book on copywriting, but the first I happened to read that explained why most copywriting fails, and how to create copy that works. (I've since read many others, including excellent ones by Joe Vitale, Ted Nicholas, Claude Hopkins, John Caples, David Ogilvy, and many more, but this one completely changed the way I approach client work. I read it about 15 years ago, and without it, I doubt I'd have a copywriting business today.)

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Booz Allen: Ethics is Good for the Bottom Line

    When Business Ethics magazine shows that socially responsible investments perform better, the world might say, well, of course *you* would say that!

    But now, a study from well-rated mainstream consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, in partnership with the Aspen Institute:

    "Among financial leaders - public companies that outperform their industry averages - 98% include ethical behavior/integrity in their values statements, compared with 88% for other public companies. Far more of these financial leaders include commitment to employees (88% vs. 68%), honesty/openness (85% vs. 47%) and drive to succeed (68% vs. 29%). Forty-two percent of the financial leaders emphasize adaptability in their values statements, compared with a mere 9% for other public companies."

    I love this, because it gives hard numbers from the core of the business community that validate my claim in Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First that businesses with high ethical standards can be more profitable. this is not a fringe phenomenon, in other words, but a core principle of business success. Thanks, folks!

    The study press release is at and contains several more passages of interest.

    I also followed a link from the press release to the Aspen Institute and was delighted to discover the many streams of fascinating work they're involved in. Too few of these brilliant initiatives make the news.

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Fascinating article on multiracialism in TV ads

    I'm old enough to remember when TV ads were nearly entirely populated with white people. Now, according to this longish Associated Press story, TV is where many Americans actually "meet" people of different colors and ethnicities. Now, according tot he article, it's Society that lags behind Television.

    Well, it may be true in some sectors.

    But I grew up in New York City and still visit there frequently. Riding the subway or living in the city's diverse neighborhoods, the reality of our multicultural country is all around you (unlike Los Angeles, where my perception is that almost the only people who take the subway are people of color--whites must drive, I guess). I think there's been a huge shift to explore other cultures--maybe not in ways that are all that meaningful, but the isolation breaks down at least a little bit even every time a person from the majority culture eats at an authentic ethnic restaurant--which, in my childhood, usually meant Chinese, and now might be Mexican, Afghani, Indian, Thai, Arabic... That we rub shoulders across cultures at universities, in the workplace, in hospital waiting rooms...and of course, on the Internet.

    Yes, there is a class of people who is wealthy and uses their wealth to isolate themselves from the hoi polloi--but that's nothing new--look at the royal courts of Europe in, say, the 17th century.

    Oddly enough, I now live in a village with almost no ethnic or racial diversity: Hockanum Village, a small hamlet of about 200 people, nearly all of them descended from Britishers who settled here between 1743 and 1850. As a Jew, I'm exotic here. And though the village name comes from a Native American tongue, I know of no neighbors who claim that ancestry. It is the most welcoming place I've ever lived.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    How the Business Ethics Pledge is Growing My Own Business

    Last summer, I launched an international grassroots campaign to prevent future Enron scandals by creating a mass movement toward ethical business practices. My goal: 25,000 business leaders signing an ethics pledge, and each agreeing to contact at least 100 others. (Bless their hearts, some signers have e-mail lists of many thousand, and have run notices about the campaign.) Together, we could create the "tipping point" to make business slime as socially unacceptable as slavery. Knowing that it took the Quakers 100 years from the time they began their campaign against slavery until slavery was eliminated in the US--and they had very little training in community organizing and, of course, no access to modern communication tools--I set myself a timeframe of ten years. As a volunteer, I'm doing this on essentially zero budget, other than paying for occasional bits of my assistant's time to set up web pages, and a few dollars here and there for press release distribution. But then again, I've been writing about (and practicing) low-cost marketing for over 20 years, so that oughtn't to be difficult, right?

    I knew this would be good for the world. And I also knew it would be good for the people signing, who could use the Pledge in their own marketing.

    What's been pleasantly surprising is how in just these first few months, it's already started changing the shape of my own business, and not in ways I'd have predicted.

    I did think the pledge would make it easier to get speaking engagements; so far, that hasn't been true.


    * I'm in dialog with a very prestigious magazine in the ethical business sphere, which has contracted for an article. If they like my work, they'll have me do that department every issue. While I won't be writing about the pledge, my blurb will identify me as the author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and the founder of the Business Ethics Pledge movement.

    * Several new clients and prospects have approached me, specifically citing my stand on ethics, and usually telling me they found me through a link about the campaign. At least two of these will be long-term clients who will generate substantial revenue in copywriting and strategic marketing planning projects.

    * I got an inquiry all the way from the Philippines about buying 500 copies of my book. Once again, the ethics campaign was a factor.

    So apparently, it really is true: follow your dreams, your loves, your passions--and our abundant universe provides for you.