My blogging has been slacking off lately. Ironically, one of the reasons is that I’ve been trying to finish the edits of a book I am writing on blogging. But the other reason – and probably the more formidable one – is that I have been going through a bit of a dry spell on knowing what to write. I mean, I’ve been talking about marketing – and, more importantly, ethical marketing for about six years now. I’ve talked and I’ve written and I’ve taught ethical marketing day in and day out. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients. Surely, everything that needs to be said has been said by now. So, is there any reason why I still need to talk about marketing?
Furthermore, is there any reason why anyone still needs to talk about (ethical) marketing?
While perhaps this might not seem like question that addresses the meaning of life, after much soul-searching (yes, I would call it that), my inner voice has given me an answer to this question. In a word, the answer is:
Yes, we still need to talk about marketing – what it is, how it is done and the ethical practice thereof. And when I say ‘we’ I don’t just mean marketers or business owners; I mean all of us.
But why all of us? And why do we need to talk about it?
As I see it, there are at least three reasons.
Reason 1: It’s Still a Major Social Issue
In my book The 7 Graces of Marketing, I said marketing isn’t just about the selling of products and services; it’s about the selling of ideas. The key aim of marketing is to get you to believe in something. Marketers get you to ‘buy their ideas’ by getting you to believe you need something in order to make your life better, easier or happier. Thus, the question isn’t really about how to get you to spend money; it’s about how to get you to believe in the idea of this thing.
The ‘marketing of ideas’ is especially rife in politics (the origins of modern marketing, in fact, actually come from politics). This year, we in the UK had our share of the unethical marketing of ideas during the run-up to our infamous EU referendum. Within a few hours of those results, a flurry of lies came to the surface, causing an outcry across the nation. I don’t believe we have yet seen the full extent of the social and economic damage caused by the recklessness and emotional manipulation from that campaign. And now we are seeing much the same kind of emotional manipulation going on with the impending US presidential elections.
Make no mistake: all of this is marketing. Whether we are talking about political spin doctors or corporate advertising:
Any kind of communication that tries to ‘sell’ us an idea, with the aim of influencing us to ‘purchase’ (or elect) the thing representing that idea, is marketing.
Marketing twists and bends our belief systems, and influences our behaviour as a society. Our behaviour today shapes our world, and dictates the future for our children’s children. So long as there is marketing, it will never cease to be a major social issue. This is why we need to keep talking about it. Its sheer ubiquitousness makes it our constant companion, whether we think about it or not. To cease talking about it would be to cease recognising (and challenging) its effect on us, which would leave us with a very ‘Orwellian’ world indeed.
Reason 2: Conscious Consumers Can Change the World
In The 7 Graces of Marketing, I defined marketing as:
‘the act of communicating the fact that we have something of value to share.’
Thus, marketing is essentially a form of communication; and like all communication, it is a two-way dialogue. This is especially true since the rise of social media and interactive advertising over the past decade. What this means is, whether or not we are marketers or business owners, we are all engaged in the dialogue of marketing – as consumers.
And while it might not always feel the case, as consumers, we have tremendous potential power. That potential can only be unlocked, however, when we become conscious consumers: people who question, enquire, and do not take things at face value. People who see beyond the price tag on the shelf, and take a moment to consider the real price – the human, animal or environmental one – of the products they are being told to buy. People who recognise when their emotions are being manipulated by feelings of fear, scarcity and inadequacy, and who refuse to support businesses who utilise such manipulations.
Just as no politician can survive if people stop buying into their ideas, no business can survive if people stop buying their products and services. In this way, capitalism is possibly (if not bizarrely) one of the most democratic systems in the world, because all economic power is ultimately in the hands of the public – the consumer. So many of us seem to see ourselves as helpless pawns in the game of ‘corporatocracy’. But really, this is not true. A critical mass of conscious consumers – who demand honesty, integrity and ethical production, and who dare to refuse to give their money to anything that falls short of their demands – can change the world for the better.
Reason 3: The World Needs More Small, Ethical Businesses
If we really want to change the world, we also need to create an environment where we are generating greater numbers of ethical, small-business owners. Unfortunately, value-driven business owners – especially those just starting out – can often feel isolated in a world of aggressive marketing hype. They can fall into the trap of believing that, if they are to succeed, they need to promote themselves in the same fashion as all those ‘old school’ marketers who came before them. They know this feels wrong to them, but they don’t know what else they’re supposed to do, as they don’t have any kind of alternative model to follow. They get caught in a trap where they feel they ‘have to’ market themselves the way they’ve been taught, but they actually hate doing it. Their marketing becomes disingenuous and unenthusiastic, producing poor results or attracting the wrong kind of customer.
This is why people like me – and others who offer similar business services – need to keep talking about marketing. Those of us who have experience, ideas and systems for promoting businesses ethically need to help and support the independent business owner. Without such support, all too many small business owners give up and go under. This is not just a shame for the business owner, but for society as well; the presence of a diversity of thriving small businesses is one of the clearest signs of a healthy and resilient economy.
I started this article asking myself, Haven’t I said all this before? Haven’t I been saying all these things since 2010 – in articles, in my books, in radio interviews, in course I’ve delivered, with my clients? Isn’t that enough? What’s the purpose of saying it again?
I’ll tell you what prompted it. I saw a woman – a new business owner – on Facebook a couple of weeks ago who was complaining about marketing. She was saying how much she hated it, but how much she knew she needed it. The comments she received were basically of two varieties: those who shared her loathing of marketing, and others who were trying to ‘sell’ her their services. In my view, this only compounded and reinforced her frustration.
What this did was remind me that there are always new businesses starting every day. There are always people who are taking that leap of faith to create something from nothing. They are full of ideals, hopes and dreams. They are driven by values. They want to contribute something to the world.
And chances are, they know nothing about how to promote themselves.
I guess that’s why I still need to talk about ethical marketing. I guess that’s why I am still doing what I’m doing, even when it seems like it’s all been said and done before.
I hope you’ll continue the journey with me by subscribing to this blog and/or staying connected via social media. And, of course, if you are an ethical business owner I invite you to check out our business and marketing services on our ‘Work With Us’ page. Then, if you’d like to discuss how our team can support you with your seeking help with your marketing or business development, please feel free to drop me a line via the contact page on this site, and request a free 30-minute Skype chat.
15 Aug 2016
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, an independent marketing consultancy created to support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their businesses ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
7 Graces on Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng
Lynn on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LynnSerafinn
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