Sometimes when I sit down to write these more instructional posts – the one’s where I’m trying to teach you something that practically helps you – I assume a position.
I hear myself with this haughty voice in an upper-class English accent.
“I, Lord Ewan, in my superior consciousness, and infinite generosity, I will impart the knowledge which you, dear muggles, have yet to command as I have. Now, listen carefully.”
I’m sorry. It’s my way of covering my own insecurity. It’s been a life-long habit.
Because in reality, the topic I’m going to tell you about here (honestly, like all of the things I write about) is one I still consistently trip over. I’ve studied and practiced marketing for 7 or 8 years now. And yet I’ve always done so with a slight begrudging tolerance. And I wrestle with it continually.
I have some nasty marketing allergies. Perhaps you do too. And if you do, I want to offer you and I some anti-histamine.
Because marketing – when done right – is powerful as fuck. And too many of us are turning away from that power, because we don’t know how to grasp it both honorably and effectively.
If that resistance to wielding the power of marketing is something that affects you, then I hope this article will help.
So here are five of the most common marketing allergies and beliefs I see. And how to heal them, so you can get on with the work you’re here to do.
(And you may notice that a lot of my imaginary marketing examples have do with sex. It’s apparently on my mind a lot at the moment.)
1. Marketing is immoral and manipulative!
“Buy my six secrets to sandwich sex and you too will have the life of your dreams”
And if I’m feeling lost, desperate, and a yearning to have the kind of sandwich sex I fantasize about, I grasp onto the promise. And if the promise does not match the reality, I feel played, tricked. You told me I’d have the life of my dreams! And I did everything you told me to, and I’m still impotent. The cheese and Gherkin baguette alludes me still.
Marketing – like any form of communication – can indeed by manipulative. But simply because we have a lot of internet-marketing vacuum salesmen, it does not therefore mean all marketing is manipulative.
Let’s think of a scale. On the extreme right is manipulation. A deliberate inflation and misrepresentation of the truth that is designed to generate maximum short term sales.
On the extreme left is apology. A contracted deflation of what is offered, to minimize sales through fear. I’m afraid that my product is not worthy or good, and so I downplay it. Which is just as manipulative, it’s just bent the other way. And incidentally, this is often far more comfortable a manipulation for those of us with marketing allergies.
The centre point is persuasive translation. I’m going to be honest first and foremost. I’m not going to deliberately misrepresent the truth. I am however, going to try and persuade you of the value of my offer, in language that you can understand.
You have to spell it out, and convince them of the potential value. You have to overcome their limited understanding, and educate them.
“Why would I need to buy a jewel encrusted butt plug? My regular rubber one is fine. It does the job.”
“Well, you probably don’t need it. But my experience of this plug is really different. When I use it, I feel like a queen. It feels regal and classy, and it helps me overcome my shame of using such a “seedy” thing in the first place.”
“Oh, that sounds cool. I like that. Ok, I’ll try it out!”
2. Marketing is inauthentic and shallow
If I market myself, I need to put on some kind of persona. I need to look like those other chaps who are great at marketing. With snazzy squeeze pages and red arrows, and bold promises that sound too good to be true.
So much of marketing is outward focused. I call this deterministic marketing. It’s what we normally think of as marketing. We determine who our target customer is, we determine what our product is, we determine what our brand is, and then we go out and enact strategies that get those target customers to be attracted to the brand and buy our stuff.
As I’ve written about before, there are real problems with this approach, particularly if you’re at early stage of your business. But even if you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, this approach often runs into inauthenticity anyway.
Because if you spend all your energy trying to determine the right models and brand for your customers, it can be easy to forget your own self, the way you naturally show up or say things. Which is why you need to counter-practice with the flip side of marketing.
Revelational marketing is the practice of showing yourself as you are, and allowing the tribe that naturally fits you, to find you. It’s the opposite of determinism. It’s surrender to current reality. Reveal who and how you are, and see who organically resonates.
Both are important. And when you marry the ideal (deterministic marketing), with the real (revelational marketing), you get a very powerful partnership.
Many ‘experts’ teach only deterministic marketing, and it can indeed look very inauthentic. Probably because it is. It misses the subject. You.
Show yourself, over and over again, and you will discover deeper and deeper layers of your own authenticity, and the way you creatively want to market your offerings.
3. Marketing is trashy and cheesy
“Hi, I’m Yousef Yaffle, CEO of yousefyaffle.com, and today I want to tell you about my new free ebook: “Seven steps to conscious consultant success sex” (actual value $74,497). Sign up below for free, and you too can fuck your clients consciously, and make six figures, and lose 20 lbs, just like I did.”
I literally gag sometimes when I read people’s marketing pitches. It’s the snob in me. I’m an artist, and aesthetically ugly prose makes me turn my nose up, and climb up on my high horse.
It can be a bad habit.
I sometimes shy away from really pitching people. I shy away from owning my own value. I hide behind a sheen of mystery, because to my artistic mind it feels so much cooler.
But marketing does not have to be vomit inducing. What’s the alternative? Beautiful originality. Not the same old landing page. Not the same old hook. The same images of folks standing on cliffs with their arms out.
But here’s the kicker. You do have to learn the rules before you break them. I see a great many folks who want to already do ‘next paradigm’ marketing when they haven’t even succeeded with traditional paradigm stuff.
Philosopher Ken Wilber would call this a pre/trans fallacy. There’s a developmental direction to learning. When you’re new to something, you don’t know the rules and best practices. You’re pre-conventional. Before conventions. This is step one. Then you read some books, get some coaching, and learn how to run a product launch. You learn the rules. You get the conventions. This is step two.
And then you can break them. You can be trans-conventional. Beyond conventions. You know the rules, and you consciously break them, the final step.
The problem is that step one and step three – ‘pre’ and ‘trans’ – can look very, very similar, because neither one is conventional.
And there are a lot of people claiming to do conscious, authentic, new paradigm marketing, but they’re not. They actually don’t know what they’re doing, because they haven’t gone through the hard yards of learning the core principles of marketing, and understanding why those conventions have existed for a long time.
You do have to learn the art of copywriting, and communicating the benefits of what you offer. You do have to learn the nature of strategy, and how to build pathways that your tribe can follow. You do have to learn the art of headline writing, and calls to action.
Marketing doesn’t have to be cheesy and pukey. It can be intensely creative and beautiful. But if you don’t learn the rules before you break them, you’re curse will most likely be ineffectiveness. An artistically original sales page that doesn’t help people buy your thing is beautifully useless.
4. Marketing promotes greed and selfishness
Because it’s designed to generate revenue, sales, and money….for me!!!
Unfortunately, so many of us still have bullshit neo-marxist narratives around money.
“Money is corrupt, or evil. If I earn more of it, I’m taking it away from someone else who may need it more than I do. Me earning money creates inequality.”
These stories are based on a shitty understanding of economics, and they really get in the way of you making a difference to the people that need you.
I apologize for any rudeness and condemnation you find in my words. I’m still disidentifying from my own bullshit money narratives! And there’s a wee-bit of resentment still, that I believed them unquestioningly for so long.
Because money is not what we think it is.
Money is a neutral indicator. It’s like feet and inches. Except it’s not measuring physical length. It’s measuring value. As I get better at coaching, I put my prices up, because I’m creating more value, and it’s worth more to people. It keeps everything in balance and flow.
But still the narratives of greed and selfishness swirl.
“It’s selfish of me to market my stuff. I don’t want to annoy people, be too salesy, have them slam the proverbial door in my face.”
And that’s part of the game. You will annoy some folks. Especially the ones with strong anti-money narratives. They might send you rude messages.
The antidote to the selfishness story is this…
Who are you not to tell people about what you offer? What if your stuff could really help someone, but they don’t know about it, because you didn’t want to self-promote?
A friend told me a story. He was at a conference for spiritual teachers. And one of the shallower and gregarious teachers had latched onto some very interesting folks who had asked for help. He was pitching his stuff to them shamelessly. And another teacher, a deep and honest one complained to my friend. He condemned the self-aggrandizement. And my friend chastised him.
“You would be a much better teacher for those folks. But they don’t know about you, because you’re sitting here with me feeling disgusted. And they’re gonna end up working with that other guy, because he’s not afraid to pitch his services. And they’re gonna get burned. And that’s your fault.”
So long as you’re honest, unmanipulative and authentic, then your self-promotion gives other people a choice. If they know about your offer they can choose you, or they can choose someone else.
If you rob them of that choice by staying silent, you’re being selfish.
(Boy did I write this section for myself…)
5. Marketing is for attention seeking narcissists
“Look at me! Look mummy, I can do a headstand! Look! Look!”
“Look at my website everyone! I made an amazing workshop, it’s amazing! Look! Look!”
I feel that part in me that wants people to see me. I want to feel adored. Loved. Liked. I want to banish the trauma of primary school, when I struggled to fit in. When people would pick me next to last for the football game. Or when I was the only one left without a partner for the science experiment.
Maybe if I get lots of people to look at me though my work I’ll finally feel loved.
This one kicks my ass. It’s so insidious.
I’m scared of to death of too many eyes being on me. It’s why I avoid public speaking, it’s why I hated performing as a musician. It’s so exposing. I feel naked. Vulnerable to their disdain.
And yet, I want people to see my work. It feels so good when I get recognition.
The fear of being seen.
The desire to be recognized.
Pulling at each other, twisting me around. I probably shouldn’t write about this one. I’m still in it up to my neck in it. But at the heart I know it’s simple.
Yes. I want your attention. I want you to look. Because I think what I’m saying could help you. And if there are a million people who would be served by my words, then I want a million people to read them.
Let’s take my own medicine.
Sometimes we can’t do it alone. We’re at some kind of juncture, we’re called to step out into the world more fully, or we want someone to help make our next big offering as successful as possible.
You’ll recognize the feeling if this is you. It will be whispering, or shouting to you right now as you read these words. “It’s time. Reach out to someone who I just feel could help.”
If you feel I could be that person, let’s chat.
I offer a 6-month Liberation coaching package. This would be a good fit for you if you’re called to a new level of yourself. You want to crack out of the old, and step into the new. Clients who work with me in this way often don’t have a clear idea of why they want to do it. There isn’t an obvious tangible goal. They just feel an intuition. It’s time.
I also offer a 3-month Launch coaching package. This is specifically for people who have a new product or offering they’re wanting to design and launch. I help guide you through the stages it requires to effectively and authentically get your thing to the people that want it. Starting where you are, and finishing when your enrollment is complete. I’m there every step of the way as an advisor, coach and thinking partner.
You can read about some of my previous client’s experiences here.
If you want to learn more or jump right in, email me at ewan[AT]therealizedentrepreneur[DOT]com