Dennis:  Shel you are behind a movement to instill ethics in the business community. How did it get started and how is it doing today.

Shel: I started a campaign to get 25,000 business leaders around the world to sign an ethics pledge, at My reason for initiating the campaign is that I realized I was not reaching enough people with my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First--with the message that ethics, service, and abundance are keys to success in business. To put it another way, that nice guys (of either gender) *don't* finish last; they finish first. I thought this campaign could crate a media talking point that would get these ideas into the mainstream business community--and yes, I hoped it would sell some books for me. And I feel it's beginning to have some small impact, though it's far behind where I'd hoped to be by this point and still has not garnered much media attention.

Dennis:  How can people participate in the business ethics pledge movement?

Shel: Visit and don't just take the pledge, but spread it through your own newsletters, websites, in-store signage, etc.

Dennis:  Please provide some benefits that people may not realize by committing to a business ethics pledge?

Shel: You're making a statement to your customers, your employees, your suppliers, your neighbors--that you care about the principles of what you do. And it's been proven over and over again that when other factors (e.g., price and quality and availability) are pretty much equal, people will choose to do business with firms that have a clear sense of values, and whose values are aligned with theirs.

It also provides reassurance that the firm will deal fairly with you, that you won't be cheated. This in turn makes it more likely that people will not only choose to do business with you, but can become your unpaid ambassadors, shifting massive new business to you through their referrals and testimonials.

Dennis:  Please give an overview of your books Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers?

Shel: Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First is the book that shows, through examples ranging from the Fortune 100 down to solopreneurs, how high standards of ethics, an attitude of abundance, and a commitment to service can *combine with effective marketing of these virtues* to become powerful levers to thrust your business to the next level. Four years after publication, I still think its groundbreaking, and of my seven books, it's the one I feel could really change the world if enough people read it. And some of these ideas are being talked about in other books, these days: every month, I review a book that touches on these principles. At first it was hard to find them, and now it's easy. I like to think I had at least something to do with that.

Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers is the second in a series of books on grassroots marketing principles: getting the most marketing leverage out of the least investment. One journalist said it was the practical application of Jay Conrad Levinson's (more theoretical) Guerrilla Marketing. This book came out in 2007, as a complement to my older book, Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World. I realized that I know a lot about book marketing, and that book marketing is different enough from marketing of other things--and that certain marketing methods that work particularly well for books didn't even exist when I wrote the original Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World.

I expect the next in the series will be Grassroots Marketing for Organizers and Activists

Dennis:  Do you have a blog site?

Shel: Two, actually: is my blog on the intersections of ethics, politics, marketing, and media; it's been running since 2005. My goal is to eventually leverage it into a syndicated newspaper and/or radio column. I have a lot of fun with it because it's the one place in all my writing where I can really let go and consistently express my personal opinions.

This summer (2007), I got frustrated with e-mail deliverability issues, so I converted my four monthly e-mail newsletters to a blog (Frugal Marketing Tips and Frugal Fun Tips, both running since May, 1997--over a decade!--as well as Positive Power of Principled Profit, where since 2003 I profile one socially conscious/ethical business and one relevant book, and a brand new one on book marketing). That one is located at

Dennis:  What kind of information is available on your site

Shel:  985 articles about running and marketing a business frugally, ethically, and effectively. Most of it is gathered into Down to Business magazine, at , or at the tipsheet archive. I'm particularly proud that the lead section of Down to Business is about sustainable business, and I think there's some very important stuff there that you won't find in the typical business magazine.

Dennis:  What kind of information is available on your site

Shel:  Quite a few articles about ethical business practices, and the archives of my Positive Power newsletter. And of course, quite a bit of information about the book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First: All 79 testimonials (including such legendary marketers as Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup), Anne Holland ( and Mark Joyner (The Great Formula)...the first few press reviews...

Dennis:  Do you belong to any networking sites?

Shel:  LinkedIn, Ning, MySpace, various others--but truth be told, I haven't done much with any of these. I do a whole lot more with e-mail-based Internet discussion groups, which have provided the same type of social networking for decades, and where my tired eyes can still allow me to participate by printing out digests and reading them offline--something that doesn't seem practical in  social networking site. But branding myself over and over on these communities as helpful, friendly, and skilled has made a huge difference n my business.

Dennis:  Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?

Shel: Just that if your readers are looking for ethical, affordable, and effective approaches to growing their business, I'm available for individual strategic consulting and copywriting: marketing plans, web pages, press releases, sell sheets, direct-mail letters, etc. I also help unpublished writers become published authors and advise on all aspects of that process too.

And finally, thank you, Dennis, for asking me to participate.

An Interview With Shel Horowitz
My Quality
Quality Writing and Services to Make a Difference
This page was last updated: August 25, 2013
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