The High Cost Of Integrity and Independence

Being RightSince returning from three and half weeks of business travel, for speaking, I’ve been in a somewhat contemplative state. I admit to having tuned out most of the ‘debt ceiling debate’ while on the road. Hopping from city to city, and country to country, in major chunks by car and plane, gives you quite the opportunity to be introspective.

At a relatively early age, I think most of us learn that life isn’t fair. Recently, I’ve become more aware of the plummeting value of integrity and ethics. I know… this is a wedding marketing blog. Somewhere along the line, I made the declaration that…

“…marketing is everything that touches the customer.’

In the wedding industry, it has become far more complicated than that. The interactive dance of bride-media-venue-vendor-et al has become a conglomeration of overreaching, on too many occasions.

Code words such as: “my bride” or “my couple” are mindless inferences that a single business has ownership of the bride or wedding couple and their decisions.

When someone says “I recommend them because they always follow our rules.”, it may be code for: “We don’t want anyone’s creativity interfering with our ability to get home in time for Saturday Night Live.”

“I’m not a public service, I have a business to run.” is code for: “I know I’m doing business with a jerk, but if it brings me business, I’m going to employ situational ethics.”

“The percentage we take for referring business is simply the cost of doing business.” is a ham-handed way of saying, “We narrow the field of leads for you, and if the value of business is worth it to, your business will happily pay it.” – Fair enough, but with the absence of transparency (revealing that percentage to the customer), I’m not sure if the policy passes the complete smell test.

I continue to look for fairness or reasonableness from time to time, but mostly find abuse of power, situational ethics, and lack of integrity.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now. Not so… I continually seek to do business with like-minded people.

How about you? Do you think about who (and what companies) you do business with? What bugs you? What makes you happy?

Share YOUR wisdom… and philosophy.

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Situational Ethics

Situational EthicsWhen I was 24, having just moved to San Francisco, I landed a job in advertising with KBRG Spanish Radio. I had very few contacts in town, but one of them was an entertainment talent agent, who also promoted some concerts.

I was fortunate to make a sale with him, almost  immediately, promoting a Salsa concert. Beginning a job in a new market, that was a huge get.

The Sunday concert was well attended and I was excited to get to the office on Monday. Only to find out that due a clerical error, the client’s campaign had not been aired for several days prior to the show. A slate of radio spots worth about $500.

Quite concerned, I immediately went in to talk to the station managers, a husband and wife team. I explained the situation, and they followed up with a couple of questions.

“How did the concert go?”  them… “Happily, quite well” I responded.

“Does the client know” them… “Not that I’m aware of…. why do you ask?”

“Well, if the client doesn’t know, perhaps we should just let it go… (aka Keep quiet about it)

“You think so?” I answered. “What could it hurt?” they asked.

I just nodded and left the office to get a cup of coffee, and  think about the conundrum. If the concert went well, then the client was damaged, was he? But the station took the money, and would have to refund $500. Would the managers look askance at me, for being too ‘holy’?

There were other considerations. I didn’t have a pile of savings and was looking to succeed in radio advertising. I was not really ready to look for a new job. There was definitely pressure and conflicting choices.

Gone by lunch: I finished the coffee and returned the office. I went in and resigned. Just like that.

I figured if I started cutting corners this soon, it couldn’t be a good thing. I would find another job. Staying at KBRG suddenly seemed uncomfortable.

This is a great example of Situational Ethics. There is not a simple answer to the scenario I’ve described. I might have stayed on a while, before the next job, for example. I’m sure you can think of several alternative courses of action.

These types of integrity scenarios confront us in business, almost daily. Some we analyze thoroughly and act with honor. Other times we delude ourselves and rationalize marginal actions. Many times there is no right or easy path.

On Wednesday, June 16th, 11:30am at First Food and Bar (at the Palazzo Hotel Shops), I’ll be giving an interactive presentation for CSA Las Vegas (Convention Services Association Las Vegas). One part presentation, one part problem solving. It’s bound to challenge people’s thinking. It’s also designed to make them squirm.

If you’re in Las Vegas, you’re invited to attend. If you’re not here, I might just post a scenario or two, on this blog, down the road.

The big question: What would you do?

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority

WIPA: The Wedding Association

WIPALeaders of WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association) held launch meetings in San Diego and Santa Monica, California, Monday and Tuesday evening, respectively. It was an opportunity to present their vision for the fledgling association to prospective members.

Does the United States (and beyond) need yet another wedding association?: In reality, this would be its first non-profit association. A true ‘business league,’ as defined by the IRS.

Why does non-profit status matter?: While privately held organizations do provide specific services and benefits for their members, they are always colored by the fact that they are not owned by the membership. An owner or partnership often does good things, but their ultimate goal is profit. Naming an organization an association that is for-profit is a tad misleading. In true associations such as WIPA, NACE or ISES, the membership, represented by its elected leaders, drives the agenda.

The WIPA Vision

What is the vision?: WIPA is still fine tuning its mission statement; however, it’s safe to say that it will focus on education, industry standards, integrity, and consumer-awareness through major media. The association strives to become the leading voice for wedding industry businesses.

What about local chapters?: WIPA has just blasted out of the starting blocks, but local chapters are already on the radar. Thought launched in California, the founding board members plan to evangelize their mission across the United States and beyond, in rapid fashion. There will be a WIPA presence at The Special Event Show in San Diego, (January 2009), in terms of speakers at sessions (wedding track), a booth in the trade show, and at the wedding luncheon. It is expected that the involvement at The Special Event Showwill trigger a flurry of new memberships and fuel interest by wedding industry ‘movers and shakers’ to bring about ‘chapters in development.’

What was the vibe? (OK, that’s a California word) The tone of the gathering and the presentation was energetic, exciting, and passionate. The attendees represented a wide range of business types, within the industry. That kind of variety and enthusiasm can only be a good sign.

WIPA’s founding president, Joyce Scardina Becker, made a great case for the new association and its far reaching benefits to members and the wedding industry, generally. If her fellow board members can match her dedication and commitment, the possibilities for the wedding industry are limitless.


SPECIAL COMMENT: Networking takes place when any group of business people get together. That’s the natural order of things. WIPA promises to be more than just networking.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog