In my work as a marketing consultant, I work with a lot of business owners who want to build their online platforms through blogging, social media, partnership campaigns and other strategies. In the early phases of our platform building activities, the focus is primarily upon establishing their brand identity, gaining social media followers, increasing traffic to their website and growing their mailing list. All of these activities lie close to the ‘rim’ of the ‘marketing funnel’, where there is no exchange of money between the business and its audience. This is the area of the marketing funnel where businesses focus on creating good informational content and free offers that they can give away to their fans, followers and blog readers.
But for a business to be a business, at some point money simply must come into the equation, and that is when we shift from the art of marketing into the realm of sales.
Stripping ‘Marketing’ and ‘Sales’ Down to Bare Bones
In the early chapters of my book The 7 Graces of Marketing, I talk about how ‘nice’ people ‘hate’ marketing, and about all the emotional baggage we have amassed with regards to marketing over the past half century. Because the idea of marketing triggers so many emotions for consumers and business owners alike, I wanted to redefine marketing by simply saying what it actually is rather that what we think it is. Thus, I came up with the definition:
‘Marketing is the act of communicating
that we have something of value to share.’
While that definition seems to appeal to the millions who have either read the book or the articles on this site since 2011, I’ve never really taken the idea further to include the concept of ‘sales’. And, I suspect, the word ‘sales’ can generate an even bigger powder-keg of explosive emotions than the word ‘marketing’. Just think of the almost instant impressions that arise when you say the word ‘salesman’. More often than not it conjures up mental images of someone sleazy, fast-talking, aggressive and possibly even dishonest. The implication for the business owner is serious. If we value our integrity and honesty while harbouring such unsavoury, unconscious feelings around the word ‘sales’, we’re going to find it extremely difficult to MAKE any sales.
So, just as it was essential to redefine the word ‘marketing’ so we could stop pushing it away as ‘evil’ and start re-inventing it in a fresh, connecting and ethical way, it would greatly benefit us if we also redefined the word ‘sales’. Here’s my attempt at a definition (feel free to share your own definitions at the end of this article):
‘Sales is the act of exchanging things of value.’
This working definition removes ALL the emotional baggage from our idea of ‘sales’. While marketing is ‘the act of communicating’, sales is ‘the act of exchanging’. It implies a 2-way engagement. BOTH parties are GIVING something. Furthermore, both parties are exchanging something ‘of value’. And therein lies the key to the whole moral conundrum in the business-marketing-sales-consumer matrix:
- As ethical business owners we have a responsibility to create and offer things of value
- As ethical marketers we have a responsibility to communicate relevant information about things of value
- As ethical sales people we have a responsibility to exchange things of the same comparative value (i.e. selling things at a cost that reflects their value)
- As conscious consumers we have a responsibility to purchase things of value
NOTE: Regarding the consumer responsibility, ‘purchasing things of value’ implies NOT purchasing things that are NOT of value. For example, the conscious consumer would not purchase things that would cause damage to the environment, have been created under unethical conditions, cost more than they can actually afford to pay, etc.
Thus, while ‘nice people who hate marketing’ might be making progress with their marketing by dint of new paradigms that offer alternatives to the old way of doing things – like the 7 Graces model does – they will never succeed in business until they:
- Formulate and embrace a different definition of the word ‘sales’ (such as the one I propose above).
- Understand their own, underlying relationship with money, and how this is impacting every other relationship they have.
Why Our Business Relationships Change When Money Enters the Equation
Imagine a young couple, settling into their first home together. After a while, they develop a rhythm and a pattern to their daily and weekly interactions. They also start to assume – often unconsciously and unspoken – a role for themselves, their partner and a list of expectations about these roles. During this initial balancing stage, there can be a lot of ‘teething pains’, because they have both come into this relationship with a lot of pre-conceived ideas about the nature of relationships. Many of these ideas were implanted when they were growing up and as we get older, other ideas evolve from our personal experiences.
Now imagine this same young couple a few years later, except now they have a brand new baby. Anyone who has been a parent with a partner (or even if you’ve been ‘parents’ to a new cat, dog or other household pet) knows how bringing a ‘third party’ into the environment shifts your relationship entirely. Suddenly there are new expectations, new roles and a new dynamic. New joys come, but so do new stresses. The rhythm changes, as you don’t spend the same amount of time together (and when you do, you don’t always spend it doing the things you used to).
It is important for business owners to remember that when you introduce money into the relationship between you and your audience (i.e. social media followers, blog readers, mailing list subscribers, etc.), you have introduced a third party into your relationship. Just like the appearance of a child changes the relationship between the partnered couple, money changes the relationship between a business owner and their audience. Bringing money into the equation changes our responsibilities and expectations of one another.
When we shift from marketing to sales, the rules of engagement feel different. Just like the new parents in the story above, new customers (even if they have been our non-paying followers for years) may seem tentative and unsure as they try to ‘find their feet’ in this new dance with us. But what makes it doubly difficult is if WE, as ethical entrepreneurs, are unsure of our relationships – not just with our customers, but with MONEY itself.
How Our Business Reflects Our Own Money-Relationship
In The 7 Graces of Marketing, I talk about the ‘7 Key Relationships’ that impact the way we do business and marketing: our relationships with Self, Source, Others, Our Business, Our Audience, Money and Marketing.
Our relationship with money has a massive impact on our ability to move from the ‘act of communicating’ (i.e. marketing) to the ‘act of exchanging’ (i.e. selling). Just like any other relationship, our relationship with money can be healthy or dysfunctional. If you have a dysfunctional relationship with money, it will show up in your marketing and business dealings. If you have difficulty in the ‘sales’ process, the issue is usually your relationship with money.
Unfortunately, most people I’ve met are unaware of their relationship with money. If we are unaware of this important relationship, it is likely to drive us in ways over which we feel powerless. It took me many years to understand how my own relationship with money was driving my success (or lack thereof!).
Our money relationship starts in our parental home. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to begin to understand how it may have taken root in our unconscious:
- GUILT: Was the money situation always tight in your childhood home? Were you made to feel guilty for spending?
- FEAR: Was there a lot of fear around where money for the bills would come from? Was there a lot of fear around losing money or that there wouldn’t be enough for the future?
- SHAME: Was money seen as a symbolic measurement of your success/value in life? Was your financial status used (either positively or negatively) to measure your worth?
- CONTROL: Was money used to control your behaviour through blackmail (e.g., withholding money if you didn’t do something) or bribery (promising money if you did something you didn’t want to do)?
- RESENTMENT: Was money portrayed as ‘evil’ or ‘the enemy’ in your household? Was money seen as ‘an opponent’ that was always winning the game of life? Did someone in your family express the sentiment, ‘I wish there were no such thing as money’ or ‘I wish we didn’t need money.’
Entering the world of business and marketing with ANY of these ‘inherited’ dysfunctional money-relationships will have a huge impact upon our financial success. Any of these perspectives can cause us to push money away and undervalue our own business motivations. We might hold back on hiring help for our business because we are afraid of financial ruin, rather than seeing it as an opportunity to grow. We might feel guilty when we are doing well financially, or lacking in self-esteem when we are not. And, we might feel like ‘bad people’ when we shift from marketing to sales because we see money as an evil, exploitive controller.
How Old-School Marketing Manipulates Our Customers’ Money-Relationship
Marketers know all about people’s relationship with money. However, old paradigm marketers tend to focus on the money-relationship their CUSTOMERS have, rather than considering their own. This means that they are pre-occupied with manipulating the fear, guilt, shame and resentment their customers have towards money, to persuade them into buying something. It is this tendency to manipulate that has given ‘sales’ its bad reputation.
In The 7 Graces of Marketing, I talk about the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ of marketing: Disconnection, Persuasion, Invasion, Distraction, Deception, Scarcity and Competition. Of these 7, Disconnection, Persuasion and Scarcity are particular relevant when making the shift from marketing to sales:
- DISCONNECTION: We can only think to exploit other people via manipulative means when we feel disconnected from them. Also, when we are disconnected from our relationship with MONEY, it will become entangled with our relationship with Self, and drive us to behave in an exploitive fashion.
- PERSUASION: Old school marketers often use their customers’ dysfunctional relationship with money to persuade them into buying through the emotions of fear, guilt, shame, etc.
- SCARCITY: Old school marketers try to incite feelings of fear of lack or loss, again preying upon their customers’ dysfunctional relationship with money. This can even include things as seemingly innocuous as offering ‘one time only’ offers.
How Money Manipulation Creates Global Imbalances
The old-school practice of exploiting our customers’ dysfunctional relationship with money has had a devastating impact on our world:
- ENVIRONMENTAL: When we manipulate others into buying something of little or no value to them, at a rate that is environmentally unsustainable, we are contributing to environmental waste due to over-production and over-consumption.
- ECONOMIC: When we manipulate others into buying something of little or no value to them, spending at a rate they cannot afford, we are contributing to overspending and debt in the world.
- EMOTIONAL: When we manipulate others into buying something of little or no value to them, we are contributing to the fears, anxieties and insecurities they already possess, and are not enhancing their quality of life.
- SOCIAL: When we manipulate others into buying something of little or no value to them, we are contributing to the increase of mistrust and cynicism between consumers and businesses.
Why Ethical Marketers Should Revisit their Relationship with Money
As stated earlier, making the shift from marketing to sales is essential for a business to actually BE a business. However, before we even think of taking a penny from potential clients/customers, if we wish to run an ETHICAL business we need to sit down and have a serious chat with ‘Money’, and really get to grips with our own historic relationship with it. Only then can we unravel the unconscious motivators and blocks we might have around money. Through this understanding – and by embracing a commitment to this new definition of ‘sales’ where we are ‘exchanging things of value’ – we will also develop a sensitivity to our customers and their own money-relationships, and treat them as people rather than as ‘sales conversion’ statistics.
If ethical marketing is our responsibility, it stands to reason that ethical selling is the next stage in our evolution. Committing to becoming aware of our own money-relationship is the first step towards attaining this.
And, as always, please do share your thoughts below.
14 March 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
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, 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)