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What Dr. Death Taught me about Marketing

What Dr. Death Taught me about Marketing

May 4, 2022 | Business Management, Marketing

By Heather Murr, Project Manager


If you have ever had a conversation with me outside of business, you might know that it doesn’t take me long to venture into true crime topics. I am a huge fan. I try not to let my conversations go there too quickly because I know it’s not a topic for everyone, but I love solving a mystery, and I love seeing people get justice. 

Recently, I listened to a very popular podcast you might’ve heard of called Dr. Death. This fascinating podcast tells the story of a different doctor each season. Unlike the majority of our wonderful medical professionals, these doctors are horrendous. They cause physical harm to many patients. Some of these cases are on purpose. At the root of each case is, of course, some form of financial or power gain for the physician.

By now you were wondering what this has to do about marketing, so let’s get to it! 

Marketing and ethics 

From time to time, we hear one of our clients has decided to purchase a particular marketing service from another company. I am not going to tell you that there is anything wrong with working with more than one marketing company when one company offers different services from the other. However, sometimes there may be a reason that your main marketing company does not provide a certain service. Sometimes these services are even a matter of ethics.

For example, one of the physicians in the doctor death podcast was purchasing reviews as well as testimonials. When potential patients would Google him, they would see nothing but glowing five-star reviews. When they visited his website they would see videos of paid actors speaking very highly of the care he supposedly provided them. 

Sadly, this façade led to 33 patients being harmed or dying at the hands of a poorly trained physician.

How to make ethical marketing decisions 

Making ethical marketing decisions is simple. First, ask yourself if what you are doing presents a true picture of who you are personally, professionally, and as a business. 

Let’s say you own a bakery. It may not seem like that big of a deal to share photos of baked goods that aren’t yours to help your work appear more polished. If potential clients are expecting a particular product however, it probably isn’t ethical to share a product that looks nothing like what you are able to create. 

It never hurts to run new marketing decisions by a trusted partner, friend, or colleague. Ask them to look at all your marketing assets objectively and gather their feedback before adjusting your marketing strategies. 

How to know you are working with an ethical company

Sometimes marketing ethics is a little more complicated than “if you can’t provide it, don’t advertise it.” It can be difficult to know if you are working with ethical marketing professionals when you are trusting them with strategies and tools you may not completely understand.

So how do you know a company isn’t out to just take your money, use unethical strategies for business growth, and is actually going to provide measurable services?

There is no foolproof way to determine if you are working with ethical marketing professionals. However, here are a few tips that can help you make a more informed decision: 

  1. Consider the cost. In Dr. Death, the physicians often gave incorrect diagnoses that came with the “need” for pricey treatments. If the price for a service seems incredibly steep, that might be a red flag that a company does not have your best interest at heart. Compare their service and the cost to other companies in your market that you are familiar with, or that have a recommendation by someone you know.
  2. Consider the proposal. A reputable company should have no problem providing you with written, detailed documentation that outlines all of the services they are going to provide.
  3. Consider how you connected with the company. Marketing companies don’t usually reach out directly to you via phone or email. They shouldn’t come bearing bad news that you need to fix your Google listing or telling you that you don’t rank on Google (a popular scam). 
  4. Consider what proof the company is willing to provide. There isn’t a single service we offer than we cannot prove what work we have done. Even with services that are trickier like search engine optimization where we cannot guarantee your website ranking, we can still show you what strategies we have implemented. 
  5. Consider what the company is NOT willing to provide. During many of these scams, the “marketer” presents you with a report “proving” your website does not rank, etc. If you ask for a copy of the report, it also comes with an additional price tag. Why would someone who has done zero work for you not allow you to have a copy of a report they are using to try to win you over as a customer?

No matter how hard you try, we all make mistakes sometimes. Sometimes these mistakes are very unfortunate because we trust someone we shouldn’t, just like these poor patients trusted these unethical “doctors” who weren’t worthy of a medical license.  Don’t be tempted to pursue dirty or sketchy marketing tactics. In the long run, it’s those who play fairly that don’t have to worry about a fall from grace in their business! 

Happy Marketing! –Heather