We can think of marketing as having two different ways.

The first way of marketing is presenting ourselves, skillfully, strategically, deliberately.

It’s writing our persuasive website copy, designing a logo that gives just the right feel to the brand, it’s concocting our taglines that inspire and inform people.

This is the common form of marketing. It’s important.

The second way of marketing is revealing ourselves, transparently, vulnerably, passionately.

It’s sharing the blog that we don’t want to share because it’s too personal, or feels inappropriate. It’s offering our naked heart, without agenda.

This is the less common form. It’s essential.

You could think about the first kind of marketing as being about surfaces. How do I appear to the world? What will people’s first impressions be? Will I be attractive to my ideal clients?

Surfaces are not less important. It’s like wearing clothes, or getting a haircut.

The second way of marketing is about the heart. It’s revealing who you really are, even though you may doubt the strategy of it. It is removing the curtains, beautiful though they may be.

The realized entrepreneur understands both these ways of marketing. For he understands that he is both depth, and surface. She wants to be seen for her true heart, and for her true skin.

He works hard to create surfaces that reflect his depth in powerful ways – marketing that can attract people magically.

And she also remembers that the heart of meeting is in revealing herself, and relating to the world from chosen nakedness.

This First Way of Marketing Is Like Makeup

I love it when my partner wears mascara and eye-liner. It brings out her big beautiful blue eyes in such an evocatively delicate way. It draws out her natural beauty. It helps me see more of her. I love seeing her.

And then there’s the woman whose make-up is so thick and loud, that I cannot see her true face. Her natural beauty is smeared over like a mask that she hides behind.

Salt, I find, is a wonderful ingredient for bringing out the flavors in a dish. I taste them more. But too much and it tastes like something fake and unpleasant. Sometimes, food can be so salty, I don’t know what the natural flavors actually are, or even if there are any.

So many people are marketing themselves with mountains of makeup and salt, while our hungry marketplace is crying out for something real, something heart-full, something truly beautiful.

Marketing Is Simply Relating

Marketing is a practice of relating with the world around you, not persuading the world of your worth.

Marketing is about seeing your community, clients and customers. And being seen in return. It’s a practice of speaking and being spoken to.

Makeup is good, and fine. Use it to bring out your attractiveness, and have those with roving eyes notice you amongst the crowd.

But don’t hide behind it.

The first way of marketing is an invitation, not a mask.

What’s in your heart? What do you care about so much that you feel ashamed to shout it to the entire world?

I want to meet you, feel you, see you.

Know you.

Will You Show Yourself?

You are beautiful.

It’s not a beauty that can be assessed according to a universal scale, or compared to the beauty of another. It’s yours. Truly and completely.

And the more you are able to push the voice of your anxiety away, and disclose that beauty, the more the natural world will rise up to meet that beauty.

When you reveal yourself, your true self, your true community will discover you.

If you fake it, and manufacture your image from the form of another, you will attract people who are meant to be served by another.

If you craft your marketing with thick makeup, trying to persuade the world that you are someone you are not, you will attract customers who relate with you as that someone you are not. And they will expect of you, the promises of that someone you are not.

And they will not be served.

And you will not be seen.

Let your marketing be a full expression of who you truly are, and not a mask to divert people’s powerful gaze.

Let them see you.

Let those who turn away, turn away.

Let those who come closer, come closer.

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Ewan Townhead

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you're interested further in my work, you can find out more about me here, and my coaching here.

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  1. Ewan

    I don’t necessarily agree with all my own arguments. But I do like the sentiment.

    Critiques, reflections and inquiries VERY welcome.

  2. Avatar

    Ewan — Thanks for unpacking this enormously important topic.

    The gift is there within the package. Your “first way” without the second way is like wrapping an empty box as a gift.

    The second way used to be the first way, before branding became craziness. Marketing was active communication: a way of opening the doors of your company to the eyes, ears, hands and heart of the market. That meant, first, understanding the needs of the market, then striving to perfectly fill those needs with quality product and service. After that, the priority of marketing follows, which is simply inviting the world to see, hear, touch and connect. And if those steps were followed, the connection between the business and its customer is based on truth, and the loyalty that follows is genuine.

    • Ewan

      I like the gift analogy Tom! Yes, there is a lot of empty, or misleading packaging out there 😉

      When was the second way the first way?

  3. Avatar

    I like your analogy, Ewan. Makeup is a mask and many use marketing as a mask… a game… covering over imperfect products with shallow promises.

    It speaks to the place of where the inner beauty we embody meets external expectations of what society finds “attractive”. A hugely powerful force and the bulk of our western conditioning is to honour and revere the external (appearances of success, position, physical beauty, the right car etc etc blah blah) as the only thing that matters.

    We know this is not true. Yet we’re taught to live our lives as if it was and every marketing message around us supports this view of the world.

    The lesson for me in all this is to acknowledge my own journey as a dedicated hippie. I’ve struggled to connect with women who wear makeup (and high heels) – I have had layers of judgement and criticism arise about the need to hide or to pretend or the sad apparent fact that we even “need” to make ourselves more attractive… This was a pushing against of what is. I even opted out of society for many years living in ashrams and isolated mountain tops. There was an energetic violence in this and I made myself superior because I was a woman choosing to be natural, refusing to wear makeup or pluck her eyebrows and wearing sandals – choosing to live a more authentic life. I kept myself separate from the world and separate from other people.

    I no longer feel this way. Sure I don’t wear makeup but I can see through the mask without judgement (both of women and of the majority of marketing out there). It just is as it is.

    There’s gratitude for being able to see through it… to have conversations like these… and to teach that there’s another way (even though it’s not yet a popular message).

    As you mentioned, our clients reflect us perfectly always and we will get back what we give out. Shallow messages = shallow relationships and I’d much rather go deep into the heart space even if it means less people are drawn to me 🙂

    Thank you for these beautiful words, Ewan!

    • Ewan

      Yes, I think we can be attached to fitting into conventions like you say – wearing makeup to look like the airbrushed models in the magazines.

      And we can be attached to being NOT that – anti-mainstream, refusing to pluck eyebrows (love that image).

      So glad you’re down from the mountain top Mirror.

      • Avatar

        Me too! Unplucked eyebrows and all…

  4. Avatar

    Hi Ewan: That is so insightful. There is the surface and the depth, in everything. I guess this is also the vertical and the horizontal, or the divine and the physical (or relative). As you look at marketing, we can see that an unconscious approach of only the surface might be misleading, and probably not compelling. The interesting thing is that we need both – both are important. e.g., the depth of the authentic self, and the surface of the product/promise/service, etc.
    Thanks so much for your insight. Philip

    • Ewan

      Yes. Thanks for the reflections. Exactly.

      I think there’s more to unpack with this distinction too. I was looking at my notebook last night, and forgot I’d drawn some models that were suggesting it’s also the ALIGNMENT between the surface and the depth that is crucial for congruence, and therefore a building of trust and intimacy.


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