Traditional marketing practices tend to steer us in a direction of marketing to a broad audience, while conscious businesses seek an audience of conscious people. And, if we market to a broad audience, we may actually deter conscious consumers from taking an interest in our offerings because we’re using tactics, language and tone that conscious people don’t relate to.
The reason for the marketing conundrum is not about any inherent disadvantage in being a conscious business, but rather that traditional and common marketing practices teach us to follow a prescribed path, using certain language and appealing to the needs, desires and sensibilities of a broad audience.
But conscious businesses and conscious consumers have different sensibilities and even different needs. More so, conscious consumers have a different worldview.
If we are a conscious business and we are marketing using language and tactics that speak to a broader audience, then we may actually be turning conscious consumers away from us. We are actually turning away precisely the audience who will understand us more deeply, get the value of what we offer and want to engage with us, buy from us, use our services.
The conundrum lies in the incredible pull that comes from many marketing consultants and gurus prescribing a specific way of marketing. And, we’ve been taught through years of conditioning that if we want to do something well, we must first look at others who do it well and emulate them.
And yet . . . we hear from so many conscious business people how they feel uncomfortable with marketing, that it feels inauthentic to them. The problem is not with “marketing,” but rather in the approach.
The solution lies not in marketing tactics per se, but rather in the brand—as in the total experience people have with a company. From the way we answer the phone, to the color scheme of our graphics, the nature of our products, the culture of our company, our brand narrative, and even the type of packaging materials we use.
Branding in the modern age relates to all the things we do before we actually “market” our products and services. And this is where conscious businesses have a tremendous advantage. The human mind is hardwired for storytelling, and conscious businesses have the ability to tell rich and meaningful stories—the kind that builds tension and motivates change.
Some conscious business marketers are great at writing, some aren’t. But stories can be told in different ways, hence the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Apple, as an example, has become one of the most valuable companies in the world by telling a deeper and richer story than merely, “we make great computers,” and they do that through visuals and elegant design.
In 2011 Patagonia boldly told a deeper story of who they are with their now famous “Don’t Buy This Jacket” ad campaign, referring to the need to lessen our environmental footprint and for companies to make products that last a long time. Many advertising experts thought they had gone off the deep end by deliberately telling people not to buy their jackets, but the naysayers didn’t understand how much conscious consumers want to do business with companies that stand for something they can relate to.
Most conscious businesses are not the size of Apple or even Patagonia, and so we need to use various marketing tactics to spread the word so that people know we exist. Herein lies our greatest advantage, to craft a story that is richer and more meaningful than, “we have great products,” or by using comparison to other companies in the market place.
Who Do We Serve?
The key to the solution is to stay focused on who we serve. If we are a conscious business, if we sell conscious products or offer conscious services, then most likely our audience are conscious people. Which means we need to speak to them using language and imagery that appeal to their sensibilities and worldview. It also means we need to resist the temptation to market the way others do. We need to be courageous enough to authentically and transparently state who we are and what we stand for.
Doing so will definitely turn some away, and will most assuredly attract those who share our values and have a similar worldview.
It all begins with the brand, going deep to understand and articulate who we are, what we believe, and very specifically, who we serve.