A Moral Dilemma
When you run a business based on marketing, you are likely to have a large variety of different types of customers. Your marketing career can put you in contact with many interesting individuals and help you make connections that you may not have otherwise made. This can be a bit of a double-edged sword. You may find yourself being asked to work on a project for people much different than yourself—perhaps even a company or organization that operates for a purpose that you do not support at all. For instance, you may consider yourself a die-hard republican, and you are asked to create a marketing campaign for the local “Young Democrats” organization (or vice versa). What do you do? This is likely to be something you decide on a case-by-case basis; however, here are the three possible ways you can handle the situation, and offer a win-win result for both you and the client.
Mentally Separate Yourself from the Project
This solution works better for some people, and some projects, than others. In the example given in the introduction, for instance, it may be possible for you to do a great job marketing an organization that is politically quite different than yours because in your heart you support the idea of voters having a choice. In this case, you would concentrate more on the results of the project, and try to avoid focusing on the fact that content may not exactly line up with your beliefs. In these cases, you may even have a leg up on other marketing firms because you can think about things from your perspective—how can you spin content to convince the skeptical?
Another solution that may work when you are offered a project that you do not necessarily morally support is to contract out some of the work. This may be the ideal solution if you are tasked with putting together a campaign that you just cannot quite manage to make yourself do. This could be a project that is X-rated in nature or maybe a marketing campaign for a violent book or movie. If you can make connections with a few different online content providers, you may have the right person for the job available just a phone call away. In this case, you can keep an eye on the project as a whole and make sure you are offering your client the best possible service, but you won’t have to do the detailed content creation yourself.
Offer a Referral
The final solution for the situation is to turn down the job. If you are offered a project so far from your moral beliefs that you cannot in good conscious take it on, you will be happier, and your client better satisfied, if you pass on it. If you have any connections in the business, you may offer a referral. This provides good service to the client who you cannot help and builds goodwill with other marketing firms that could land you a contract that is better in line with your interests later down the road.
No matter what you choose to do, it is important that you are always professional when talking with clients, no matter what their beliefs. Remember, working with clients of different backgrounds is one of the jobs of the business—even if it does create some sticky situations along the way.
Tracy S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.