How can marketing express your deepest values, even be an act of compassion or hospitality? Here are some tips I have learned from many sources:
1. Start with a vision of your marketing as an act of hospitality.
When you invite honored guests to your home for dinner, you naturally do all you can to make them comfortable. You spend way more time putting them at ease and listening to them than you do focusing on your own comfort or putting your message across.
Carol Costello, in The Soul of Selling, offers information and inspiration about how selling can be done “with ease, in the spirit of service, and in a way that feeds your soul.” I suggest reflecting on that idea, ending, with an affirmation like: “I choose to see clearly how my marketing can be done easily, in the spirit of service, in a way that feeds my soul.” Then, when your heart speaks, take good notes. Keep playing with the guidance from your heart and soul until you have a clear vision for your marketing plan.
2. Consider all marketing an act of faith.
You’ve got to have some kind of faith in yourself, your offerings and the market to stay in business. Problem is, fear can drown out the quiet wisdom of faith with self-talk like “Who do you think you are?” or” It’s a jungle outside, so you’ve got to be tougher, more vicious, more trendy, especially in this down economy!”
HR consultant Roseanne Roberts has a simple affirmation: “My need for income perfectly matches another’s prayer for my product or service.” Rev. Sarah Hargrave, a staff minister at the Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living in Corte Madera, inspired a great continuation to Roseanne’s affirmation: “With the help of the Universal Marketing Committee, I now see clearly how I am called to connect with those who most need my offerings.”
Still faithless? Imitate the Cowardly Lion who gained confidence by taking courageous actions. Do your marketing homework. Blend spiritual guidance with practical marketing guidance.
3. Offer your services or products as simply and graciously as you offer a tissue.
This tip came from Carol Costello. Hold your product or service away from you, at an angle where you and your potential customer can see it objectively. Engage fully with the other person(s) while also detaching yourself from the outcome. Know that when you do this authentically, at the least you will have a fascinating interchange with a fellow human being. Whether or not that person does business with you, he or she will be blessed with at least a little of what’s most authentic and good about you.
4. Seek not to be understood and appreciated but to understand and appreciate.
Trader Joe’s stores are famous not just for their amazing variety of inexpensive, tasty and often organic foods from around the world but also for their quirky and fun branding. Thus, some of Trader Joe’s boxes of tissues feature a different message in old-fashioned type saying “I’m here when you’re sad” or “I’m here when you have to pick up icky things,” or run out of toilet paper or you’re sick. Accompanying each “I’m here when you _______” is an old-fashioned photo and script saying things like “love, Tissue,” or “kindly, Tissue,” as if the tissues actually speak to us. What can you learn from this model?
5. Treat marketing as a respectful way to share good news.
Without marketing and PR, people just can’t discover what we offer. How selfish we are when we’re too shy or nervous or whatever to help them find us!
In Christianity, “gospel” literally means “good news,” not pushing your will on people. Jesus’ parables invite us to stop hiding our light, to stop refusing to exercise (spend or invest) our talents.
Do your work as if you were doing it for your beloved, our Hindu friends say. Make no split between what you do in your prayer time and your work, say Muslims. Buddhists promote right livelihood, which means to do all work — including marketing — with compassion and consciousness.
6. Pray, meditate or reflect about your marketing plan and activities.
One of my affirmative prayers has been simply my commitment to notice more opportunities to let my light shine. When Susan Harrow invited newsletter readers to submit guest blogging ideas, I wrote “Marketing as Spiritual Practice.”
Marketing and selling require faith in our true selves, which are connected to all creation, not to our egos, which have a more limited, selfish viewpoint. Our real selves are as comfortable with potential rejection as babies are comfortable picking themselves up each time they fall; our egos would rather avoid anything potentially painful.
Marketing requires faith in our products or services. If we can’t have faith in them, it’s either time to reshape each product or service so we deeply respect it and can affirm its value — or it’s time to offer other products and services that are more ethical, meaningful and useful.
Marketing requires faith that there is room in the market for quality and integrity. Whatever bandwagon of hype or fear is popular today, marketing with faith calls us to stay true to what we know to be true. If that means a smaller market share, so be it, and bless it. By being true to ourselves, we will always have enough.
Pat McHenry Sullivan, owner of Visionary Resources in Oakland, CA (www.visionary-resources.com, 510-530-0284) is a pioneer in the spirituality in work and business movement. She helps entrepreneurs and changemakers to create inspired strategy (including bankable business plans) and communications that are true to their truest values. Her new book about the genius in all of us — how it got trained out of us, how to reclaim and develop it — will be published in summer 2017.