Throughout the month of December, we celebrated 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 with a retrospective look at the 7 Graces and how they have evolved since the book came out. If you missed the first 5 articles, you can catch up on them here:
I tried to get all 7 articles out before the end of 2013, but the Christmas and New Year holidays caught up with me, so I’ll be finishing off Parts 6 and 7 of the series this week. Besides, I thought that today – New Year’s Day – was a fitting time to look at the 6th of the 7 Graces – The Grace of Abundance.
Abundance – Thinking beyond the Woo-Woo Candy Floss
I have to confess, when I wrote the book The 7 Graces of Marketing, I was resistant to using the word ‘Abundance’ for one of the Graces, simply because it contained so many distorted, commercial, New Age connotations. I felt the word had become cheap, empty and meaningless owing to so many opportunistic Internet marketers tossing it about while they preyed upon millions of people who were struggling financially – especially in the aftermath of the so-called ‘credit crunch’ that still impacts our economy to this day.
But after much deliberation, I came to the conclusion that this beautiful word – when seen in its proper context – expressed Grace #6 perfectly. I also realised that using the word ‘Abundance’ gave me an opportunity to redefine the term so as to restore it to its true, rich and glorious meaning.
As to meanings, I love looking at the origins of words, as I believe they can open up doorways to deeper levels of understanding. For example, the word ‘abundance’ comes from the Latin noun abundatia, meaning ‘fullness’ or ‘plenty’. This noun is derived from the Latin verb abundare, which means ‘to overflow’ or ‘to abound’. It’s important to point out that ‘fullness’ and ‘plenty’ have nothing whatsoever to do with having lots of something; rather, they refer to a state of feeling satisfied.
When you feel full after a meal, it does not necessarily mean you have eaten a lot, but that you feel satisfyingly full. Similarly, when you say you have plenty of money, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a millionaire, but that you have enough money to make you feel satisfied in life.
Of course, ‘plenty’ does not only refer to food or money, but to many other things in life. In an earlier article I wrote called 10 Layers of Abundance – Re-evaluating Prosperity, I defined 10 different kinds of abundance – or ‘plenty’ – that enrich our lives and our businesses: abundant money, sustainability, time, fun, fulfilment, impact, demand (i.e., others desiring what we have to offer), ease, support and possibilities (or opportunities).
How Our Experience of Abundance Changes as We Change
We all crave a life that feels ‘plentiful’ with all these forms of Abundance. But what is ‘plenty’ for one is not necessarily plenty for another. Nor does our definition of ‘plenty’ remain constant throughout our lifetime. In reality, our relationship with the feeling of having ‘plenty’ changes according to our relationship with ourselves.
For example, back when I worked as the Director of a college department, I made a very good salary that I thought would be ‘plenty’ for me. However, at the time I was going through a particularly ‘scarce’ time in my life (‘Scarcity’ being the opposite of ‘Abundance’). I was unhappy, frustrated and stressed out. I was working hard to please others rather than myself. I spent money on things I ‘thought’ I needed, and lived in a constant state of debt. And I’m not talking a few hundred; I was tens of thousands in debt. Somehow, my ‘very good salary’ only left me with less money and more feelings of scarcity than before I took the job.
These days, I work for myself. My work is enriching, challenging and thrilling to me. I spend a lot less on ‘stuff’ because I simply don’t feel the need for them. When we don’t feel a need, it means we are not feeling ‘scarce’. I paid off all my debts about 5 years ago and live completely debt-free (except for the mortgage…which I’m working on).
But here’s the most interesting thing: after all my business expenses are taken out, I probably make half of what I made at my old job at the college. But in spite of this, somehow I have plenty. I have plenty enough to have saved up the money for a beautiful new kitchen to be installed next month. I assure you, this kitchen is NOT cheap.
But I’m not stressing about the fact that I’m going to spend that money. That would be ‘scarcity thinking’. Instead, I’m thinking about how plentiful I feel that I managed to save it all. I’m also focusing on how plentiful I will feel after the kitchen is installed. At last I’ll have plenty of work space to cook plenty of wonderful meals and invite plenty of friends and family to my house for dinner. I’m also thinking about how plentiful I feel to know that, because I’ve saved up all the money for it, I’ll actually own the kitchen rather than owe money for it.
All of this leads me to conclude that ‘Abundance’ is not something we have but something we feel. It’s not about having lots of money, but about feeling rich and plentiful. Whenever I have felt ‘scarce’ in life, I never seemed to have enough money. But whenever I feel plentiful, money seems to flow easily even if I don’t really have a lot of money. Something to think about.
How Our Feelings of Scarcity Manifest as Scarcity
Whether they openly admit it or not, ‘old school’ marketers exploit the fact that ‘Abundance’ and ‘Scarcity’ are much more about feelings than things. By inducing feelings of scarcity in their marketing, they make consumers feel less plentiful:
- When advertisers try to make us worry about not being young or beautiful enough, they want us to feel ‘scarce’ in self-image and self-love so we’ll spend our money to fill that emptiness.
- When they tell us we’re losing out because we don’t own the latest gadget, they want us to feel ‘scarce’ on a social level so we’ll spend our money on things we think will help us ‘keep up’ with our peers.
- When they try to frighten us by saying ‘time is running out’ and that we should take action NOW, they want us to react from raw, primordial response to scarcity so we will spend money to alleviate our fear.
Old-school marketers know that when people are in a scarcity mind-set, they tend to spend more and spend faster. If we keep on spending in this reactionary way, we will eventually go into debt (as you can see from my own story above). And, as we’ve seen over the past decade, when an entire society – consumers, big businesses, banks and governments – is living in such a scarcity mind-set the entire global economy collapses.
Of course, over-spending creates over-consumption, which in turn creates over-production and over-waste. This creates a massive cycle of environmental imbalances. And finally, scarcity marketing creates a world full of scarce-feeling people. When we are continually told we are ‘less than’, it is becomes extremely difficult to get in touch with our innate feelings of plenty.
Ultimately, when we cannot tap into our own abundance resources, we also cannot connect with others. Trust, intimacy and openness erode in our relationships. And then our world becomes truly impoverished. And so, ‘The Deadly Sin of Scarcity’ (as I call it in The 7 Graces of Marketing) becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in every aspect of life:
Our feelings of Scarcity will ALWAYS manifest in actual Scarcity.
Making Marketing a ‘Scarcity-Free’ Zone
The good news, of course, is that it stands to reason that the opposite axiom is also true:
Our feelings of Abundance will ALWAYS manifest in actual Abundance.
As ethical marketers in the new paradigm, it is vital that we understand the true nature of both Scarcity and Abundance, and thus take responsibility for the GLOBAL IMPACT we create in the world through our marketing. Marketers who believe in scarcity marketing will try to convince you that it works because it has resulted in sales for their companies. But we will need to stand against these claims by continually seeing (and showing them) the bigger picture: that scarcity marketing might appear to bring localised Abundance in the short term, but it produces wide-spread Scarcity in the long term.
My primary goal for the work of the 7 Grace Project is to help educate and inspire marketers to become leaders in the new paradigm, who refuse to succumb to any kind of marketing strategy that creates ‘lack’ in the world. These bright and shining visionaries will change the world of business and marketing both by their personal example as well as their open declaration of their values. Their marketing will focus on creating feelings of Abundance – where their customers have ‘plenty’ of time, space and information to make informed decisions about what they actually want to buy, rather than what they are being made to feel they need.
‘Scarcity’ marketing is sort of like ‘crash dieting’ or starvation dieting. When we crash diet, we send a scarcity signal to our brains and bodies. Yes, it can result in a rapid, dramatic weight loss. But in the long term, after the ‘crash’ is over, the dieter will put back on all the weight – PLUS more. This makes the person more desperate that ever to lose weight. The trouble is, the ‘crash’ diet sends the body into ‘starvation’ mode, making it even more difficult for the person to lose weight the next time around. Thus, the person goes into an endless cycle of yo-yo dieting, where they pack on the pounds year after year.
This is analogous to how the Deadly Sin of Scarcity impacts our economy. Scarcity marketing creates rapid, dramatic results at the expense of huge economic and environmental imbalances that become more and more difficult to correct as time goes on. The only way to stop the yo-yo cycle in dieting is to introduce a radical change in diet of nutritious food that brings a slow, steady rebuilding of health. Similarly, the only way to stop the damage of scarcity marketing is to eliminate the use of scarcity triggers altogether, and replace them with nourishing messages of ‘plenty’. It’s not an overnight ‘fix’, but it is the only way to restore our economic, environmental and emotional balance.
Consumers also can play a part in this restoration process. After all, we’re all consumers in today’s world. If EVERY person who reads this blog, becomes part of our community or reads the book The 7 Graces of Marketing were to make a commitment not to give their money to any company using ‘scarcity triggers’ in their marketing, it would start to break the cycle. The system would change as old-school marketers learned that scarcity marketing no longer works.
How great it would be if everyone reading this article including this in their ‘New Year’s Resolution’ for 2014.
Coming Up Next Time
I hope you enjoyed this article on the first day of a brand new year. If the subject of the 7 Graces piqued your interest, I encourage you to check out the book The 7 Graces of Marketing and to find out more about our non-profit social enterprise the 7 Graces Project CIC.
Next time, in the last article in this 7-part series, I’ll be sharing my reflections on grace #7 – The Grace of Collaboration. I do hope you’ll subscribe to this blog so you can be sure to receive it.
I also hope you’ll 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 wonderful 7 Graces ethical marketing training courses as they become available in 2014 (we’re now in ‘beta’ mode with them).
And please do share your thoughts and feedback below. I always look forward to exchanging ideas with my readers. Here’s to a wonderful 2014 for all of us!
1 January 2014
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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)