This month we are celebrating the 2-year anniversary of the release of the book The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell. Since that time, what began as a personal, idealistic vision is now an active, global community, as well as a non-profit social enterprise called the 7 Graces Project CIC, which offers training, mentorship and support in ethical marketing to independent business owners.
Even though I wrote the book and defined the paradigm, I am continually learning more about the 7 Graces every day. By living and breathing these Graces, I have come to see them within a much wider context of life. For that reason, I’m taking this anniversary month to write a 7-part article series exploring each of the 7 Graces from perspectives I have gained over the past two years.
In Part 1, we looked at how Grace of Connection is the wellspring from which all the other Graces come, and how connection needs to start from within ourselves before we can bring it into our business and marketing. Then, in Part 2, we looked at how ‘Inspiration’ in our marketing can breathe life into our customers, rather than prey/feed upon them.
If you missed those articles, you can catch up on them here:
Today, we move on to the 3rd of the Graces – The Grace of Invitation.
Have We Become a ‘Marketing Resistant Culture’?
Recently I’ve been on a wellness journey. During this journey, I’ve come to learn that I had something called ‘insulin resistance’. Simply put, to be ‘insulin resistant’ means that your body no longer recognises or responds normally to the presence of insulin in the blood. This lack of sensitivity can happen if your diet is very high in things like carbohydrates, sugars, etc., which overstimulate and over-tax the pancreas. Because your body has been desensitised to insulin, it means that insulin cannot effectively perform its job of regulating blood sugar levels in the body. But because unregulated blood sugar levels can put your life at serious risk, the pancreas will keep on producing more and more insulin, until your body finally says, ‘Oh, hey! We’d better lower the blood sugar right away.’ Unfortunately, this will continue unless and until there is a radical change of diet and lifestyle (i.e. eliminating the carbs and sugars, etc.), that stops this dangerous vicious cycle of over-stimulation, and allows your body to become re-sensitised to insulin.
But the key thing to bear in mind in this example is this: Even though your body doesn’t ‘respond’ unless there are extra-high quantities of insulin in your blood, it is still being negatively affected by having so much insulin in your body. In fact, being insulin resistant can make you quite ill.
I know this all might seem way off topic, but I’ve shared this example of insulin resistance because it is actually an extremely accurate analogy for our modern marketing culture. Today, most people have become ‘marketing resistant’. We are FLOODED with marketing; it’s everywhere we turn. And in exactly the same way that our ‘insulin resistant’ bodies do not even notice the presence of insulin until it reaches excessive levels, as a culture we have become so overstimulated by marketing that our conscious minds don’t always notice its presence in our environment… in spite of the fact that we are inundated with it.
But being unaware of the marketing that surrounds us does NOT mean we are not affected by it. Rather, it means that we have become ‘resistant’ to it; we have been so overstimulated by marketing that it takes still more stimulation to create a conscious response in us. This is why today’s mainstream marketers are getting more and more aggressive. Just like the pancreas churns out more insulin to get the body to take action, marketers churn out more and more advertising to try and break through our ‘marketing resistance’ and prompt us to take action (i.e., to buy their products). For example, every time I happen to browse online for a particular product, I will suddenly see adverts for that same product on every site I visit after that – on Facebook, on Google and even on blogs and websites that aren’t even retail sites.
It’s a veritable marketing INVASION. In fact, in the 7 Graces of Marketing model, I call it ‘the Deadly Sin of Invasion’.
Counteracting the Deadly Sin of Invasion
The question is, of course, where does it all end? Can marketers really keep on sending out more and more ‘stimulation’ to the public – constantly getting louder, more pervasive, more persuasive and more invasive – simply because consumers have become desensitised? Or is there a breaking point where it all simply collapses?
Collapse is inevitable in the body. After years of over-work and over-stimulation, the pancreas will eventually say, ‘I give up! I just can’t keep this up anymore! You’re on your own, kid.’ It then stops producing insulin altogether, causing the person to become diabetic. Not a happy outcome.
But where does it end in marketing? How much marketing can marketers reasonably do – and how much stimulation will the public tolerate – before the whole system caves in on itself? For me, this thought brings to mind ominous visions from the old film Bladerunner where society is just one big neon advertisement.
The body of an insulin resistant person will ‘recalibrate’ and again become sensitive to insulin once the stimulating substances in their diet are removed for an extended period of time. Is it possible, therefore, that if we remove ourselves from the over-stimulation of invasive marketing, we would be able to recalibrate and re-sensitise ourselves to the unconscious effects it has upon us?
In The 7 Graces of Marketing, I share my experience of this very thing, when my TV ‘blew up’ in 2008 (and I never replaced it). This meant I was no longer ingesting a daily diet of TV adverts and Nightly News. My consciousness changed profoundly within the first 6 months of this information ‘detox’. The eye-opening awareness that was a result of that experience is what gave me the initial idea to write the book.
Of course, in today’s world, removing ourselves entirely from invasive marketing is a tall order, and I doubt many people would be willing to turn off their TVs, radios, computers and mobile phones for more than a short period. In lieu of this radical act, the next best thing is to start paying attention to the ‘symptoms’ of how marketing unconsciously affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. For example, invasive marketing has not only made us tolerant and numb to ‘information noise’, but it has also has driven people to believe they need things they don’t, and to replace those things at a faster pace than they actually need to be replaced. This creates a vicious cycle of overproduction and overspending, which in turn creates debt and environmental waste.
But once we start paying attention to these marketing triggers, we become less and less likely to respond to them without thinking. That was a major intention behind writing The 7 Graces of Marketing – to help people become aware of the behaviours they may have unconsciously adopted as a result of being exposed to the marketing pitches that invade our senses nearly everywhere we turn.
Call me naïve, but I believe that if we consumers simply refused to give our business to companies who use invasive marketing strategies, these companies would eventually stop wasting their time, money or energy on the Deadly Sin of Invasion.
The New Paradigm Marketer as Cultural Leader
Of course, cultivating consumer awareness is only half the formula for change. If we are really to transform the face of marketing, it is equally (or more) important to educate a new generation of marketers who will lead the way to change by setting an example for others. Creating a culture – and an educational alternative – for such new paradigm marketers is what the 7 Graces Project is all about.
I believe, to practice ‘invasive marketing’ without your conscience getting the best of you, you’d have to be able to disconnect from any thoughts about the impact you’re actually creating in the world. You would have to ignore how you are contributing to rising stress levels, over-spending and the ever-growing amount of waste in the world. But even if they saw the situation clearly, how many of these invasive marketers would actually STOP using the aggressive, tried-and-tested tactics they learned in their old-school marketing training courses?
My guess is: not many.
The reason why they would be unlikely to change is because invasive marketing seems to work. It CAN generate sales. And for a marketer, making sales is really the bottom line.
Or is it?
In sharp contrast, new paradigm marketers are deeply connected – to Self, Source and Society. This connection informs every decision they make and every action they perform. They are a fundamentally different breed of marketer who do not see sales as the bottom line, but relationships. For them, the most important function of their marketing is to create an open, respectful, engaging and hospitable space into which their ideal customers WISH to enter and linger.
And that, in a nutshell, sums up the Grace of Invitation.
It would be a serious mistake to assume that this bold, new generation of ethical marketers is comprised of soft, sensitive people who lack the cojones to be successful in the ‘real’ world of business and marketing. The truth is quite the opposite. It takes immense courage to take a stance against the status quo, especially when statistics (i.e. ‘sales’) confirm its effectiveness. But when our values change, our measuring stick for ‘effectiveness’ also changes. If our ‘bottom line’ is not sales, but relationships, then all the old ways of evaluating effectiveness become irrelevant.
Instead, the Grace of Invitation propagates an entirely different set of ‘bottom line’ criteria that address the dynamic relationship we have with our audience, and underpin the unspoken contract we have with them. Instead of looking at sales conversion, we ask ourselves such questions as:
- How can I be a gracious host when people come into my space, such as my shop, webinars, website, etc.?
- What is the level of commitment these people have to me? How can I best honour that?
- How can I respect my audience’s boundaries and ensure I don’t become a ‘houseguest from hell‘ who bombards them with too much marketing email?
New paradigm marketers – such as those within the 7 Graces community – are true cultural leaders. Leaders are not necessarily those who make the most noise, but those who create the greatest positive social impact.
Many old-school marketers will generate millions or even billions for their clients’ companies; but without creating any significant positive social impact, they cannot truly be called leaders. But even independent solopreneurs can be cultural leaders when their actions generate positive social change, no matter how small.
The Grace of Invitation is a powerful social healer not just in marketing, but even in the most seemingly insignificant moments in our lives. To see this for yourself, the next time someone does a favour for you – whether it’s opening a door or giving you great tech support – don’t just say ‘thank you’. Instead, say something like, ‘Thank you, you’re very kind’ or ‘Thank you, you’ve been extremely helpful.’
And if someone says, ‘Thank you’ for something you did for them, don’t just say ‘You’re welcome’. Instead say:
‘It’s my pleasure.’
Then, watch very carefully and notice how this creates an energy exchange between you that lingers – sometimes for years to come. While it might not seem immediately apparent, this is actually the Grace of Invitation in action. It demonstrates openness and respect, and creates an open space for engagement between us. Within this space, we are inviting the other person to step into our world, and acknowledge them as a valued part of the bigger story of our life, even if only for a moment.
Imagine what the world would be like if every business on the planet operated with this simple, but elegant, ethos.
And now – imagine what the world would be like if all marketing and advertising engaged with us like this.
Coming Up Next Time
Next time, I’ll share my reflections on Grace #4 – The Grace of Directness – which is all about ‘saying it like it is’ in our marketing (and in life) rather than resorting to manipulative gimmicks and distractions.
I do hope you’ll subscribe to this blog so you will be sure to receive it. And please do share your thoughts and feedback below. I always love reading what you have to say.
Lastly, please accept my invitation to come join our ever-growing 7 Graces community on Facebook at http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden. That way, you’ll also be amongst the first to know about our 7 Graces training courses as they become available in 2014.
Until next time, take care.
19 December 2013
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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
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, 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 CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)