RBM: When Good Companies Do Stupid Things - Elliott Easterling

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By now most of you are aware of Facebook's PR disaster. The firm's secret smear campaign against Google has turned out to be one of the biggest fiasco in the company's history. Google is no saint, but they have done a decent job positioning themselves around the idea that, "You can make money without doing evil." This is stated as one of their core 10 principles. Facebook could do a better job following suit. I believe that the brand equity lost as part of Facebook's shortsightedness will take years to recover.

I personally believe in business ethics above all else. For me, ethics even come above the profit motive. That never precludes us from being feisty business competitors. We compete, and I like to think of RBM as a formidable business adversary to any digital marketing agency, but I don't allow the firm to cheat. That is why our clients come back to us year after year, even as they change jobs and move on to new firms. They know that RBM will always do the right thing.

A lot of performance-based marketing firms are missing half the equation. For us, performance means two complementary things. It means that we will treat our clients business as if it was our own, and it means that we focus on delivering measurable business results.

A lot of digital firms deliver their clients performance, but they don't put the client's interests first. The media industry is notorious for fly-by-night operations that take a very short term approach to making money. The approach often involves adding poor performing elements to a campaign solely because they will boost media company margins. I call it "mixing bad whiskey in with the good," and it is a terrible way to do business.

We believe that true performance marketing comes with operating as an extended part of our client's teams, always operating with the client's interest in mind. That creates the greatest long term value for both our clients and firms like ours. That also produces trusting clients who stick around for the long haul.

I don't see a lot of business leaders taking a public position on business ethics. It would be nice to see more of that.

Elliott Easterling is Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board at RBM. Elliott can be reached at eeasterling@redbricksmedia.com

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