When Tate Linden of Stokefire began to see a number of obscure blog posts touting a heretofore unknown competitor as the world’s “first naming company,” he thought he should check them out. And in a post at the Thingnamer blog, he concludes that the company had likely paid for the “editorial” coverage and their coveted links. “Even if no money changed hands,” he says, “something must have happened to get this mini-avalanche of blog postings to occur.”

Ethics aside, the strategy has an inherent problem. It relies on subterfuge to succeed, and can do enormous damage to a company’s public image if it isn’t sneaky enough. According to Linden, Stokefire has a “mantra” that goes something like this: If you wouldn’t talk about it on our homepage, you shouldn’t do it. “That includes taking on questionable projects, working for questionable clients, or undertaking questionable advertising practices.”

You might scoff at a company that buys links from random bloggers, but the concept of not-entirely-kosher practices raises an interesting question for Linden. Would any aspect of your marketing plan cause embarrassment if you didn’t keep it on the QT? “If so, why?” he asks.

“Remember,” says Linden, “your brand is who you are when you think no one is looking.” We think the thoughtful reminder is an excellent piece of Marketing Inspiration.

Source: MarketingProfs newsletter 10/27/08

Cheers, Skip