Greed is No Longer Good: How Altruism is Taking Over Marketing

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In the 1987 film “Wall Street,” Michael Douglas’s character Gordon Gekko famously said “Greed is good.” Gekko worked in the world of Wall Street: finance, stocks, etc. but for decades you probably would have heard advertising and marketing executives saying similar things. You may even still meet some old school marketing execs who extol greed as a virtue. “The purpose,” they might say, “of a company is to make money and if it means we have to lie, cheat, and steal to get there than so be it.”

Yes, the purpose of a company is still to make money. However, in the world of social media marketing, the old ways of marketing, disruptive techniques that often aim to force a consumer to take in a marketing message, creating marketing that is oftentimes more annoying than useful, no longer suffice. If a person sees a piece of disruptive marketing, they will ignore it and go to another website. If a person sees a piece of marketing with misleading information, it’s very easy for them to do a Google search and find the truth.

In this environment, altruism, doing good, becomes a necessity. Online consumers may never see your advertisements if they are not genuinely entertaining or useful. If you create something that is genuinely entertaining, then your brand stands to benefit when people choose to share your content with others. If you publish useful content on your web site related to your brand, you create a reason for people to visit your web site besides “I might need to buy something.” Brands like Dove have created campaigns that genuinely inspire their fans by speaking to their values. Brands like Red Bull have created content that is genuinely entertaining to their fans.

In closing, even if you truly believe that unfettered greed is good, in the modern marketing world, you need to realize that the jig is up. Brands that don’t give in to their better natures will not be able to compete and stay in business in a world that has become more consumer driven than ever.