Sunday, June 14, 2009

3. I Love What I Do, But Marketing, That Stresses Me Out: The 8 Steps in Mindful Marketing

Are you one of those people who has something to offer to this world, but does not feel comfortable marketing it? This blog posting is a response to people’s fears and misperceptions about marketing. I started writing this posting as one, but it ended up being so long that I have split it into three separate postings, addressing each of the purposes stated separately:

1) To bring awareness to some reasons for negative perceptions about marketing

2) To clarify the meaning of marketing and differentiate it from related terms like selling and advertising

3) To lay out the eight steps in marketing as a systematic and natural aspect of living a mindful life

I started writing this posting as one, but it ended up being so long that I have split it into three separate postings, addressing each of the purposes stated separately.

Enjoying marketing as a natural process: The eight steps to mindful marketing

Part 3 of 3 of “I love what I do, but marketing, that stresses me out.

The third posting in the series is intended to provide a new perspective on marketing that is a natural expression of who you are – a mindful woman in business. The eight steps of a marketing plan described in part 2 of this series are not cumbersome, intimidating things you have to do but are simply an external manifestation of who you are internally. This is the inside-out approach to marketing.

I will be taking each of the steps in the traditional marketing plan and providing a new way of thinking about it so that you can think about each of these steps as a mindful expression of your inner purpose.

1) Your purpose, the business mission

The first step in traditional marketing starts with having a mission statement. Now, coming up with a statement that reflects your business purpose, your core competencies, and how you will meet needs of your target market, may seem like an intimidating task for some or a lot of work in the least. Instead, you can focus on your inner purpose and special gifts that can touch this world in very positive ways. Think of the people who are looking for something you have to offer and how you can help these people. Having a clear vision of your purpose and specific ways in which you will make that happen is the first step in mindful marketing. If you do not have a clear idea of where you want to go, you will never get there. So, the first step is a quiet reflection of the following:

· Your purpose

· Specific ways in which you will enact your purpose

· What you will bring to your work that is uniquely you – what you love about yourself, your talents, and what you enjoy

· Broadly, needs you will be meeting of people

Now, most of you would have already reflected on the above or some of the above points. And if you have, staying connected with that clarity of purpose, write it down and that is your mission statement. When you write the statement, think as if you are speaking to your customer. What do you want to tell them about your purpose, about what you can do for them, and what it is that make you “You.”

You can read more about finding inner purpose here.

2) Learning from the environment, a situational scan

The situational scan described in part 2 refers to an examination of the environment, internal and external to the business. The purpose is to stay in touch with the changes in your business environment – changing technologies, consumer culture, competitors, and so forth. As we get more busy and more comfortable with systems that work for us we are less inclined to study the changes around us. We know that the only permanent thing is change. You can either fear it or embrace it as your teacher. Changes compel us to find new ways of thinking and as such are responsible for innovations and improvements. In this context, I would also like you to think about competition. It is so important to be aware of what other people in your business are offering. Competition can be seen as a very healthy force that is constantly challenging you to improve and grow. If you are open, and curious, and want to grow, learning about and from your environment is a natural outcome of who you are. So, look around you, notice, Google, read, talk to people, try new experiences, explore new subjects, research, and continue to grow – because if you are not growing forward, you are going backward.

You can read more about environmental scan here.

3) Understanding your customer needs, target market

This step is about really understanding and connecting with your customers. At this point your focus moves from your inner purpose to how you can meet specific needs of others. You may be driven by a higher purpose, but if the people that you are targeting do not feel a need for that product, then you are wasting your energy on the wrong market segment. It is important to identify people who need your services and then communicate with them in a language they understand, using channels of communication they use. Learn as much as you can about your potential customers so you can connect with them most effectively. While you will be engaging in tangible processes like market research, trends analyses, and collecting information about your potential customers, also trust intangible processes like your intuition to connect with potential customers. Know that if you are operating from a place of higher purpose, that you will be connected with the people who need your service.

4) The unique ‘you,’ your positioning

As a business you can position yourself uniquely by differentiating along factors like product attributes, pricing, brand image, service quality, and delivery channels. Within the mindful marketing framework, this is not something you will artificially create, but will be a natural manifestation of the unique ‘you.’ For example, as a marketing consultant, my unique positioning is my experience and knowledge in integrating science, business, and spirituality. This is not a strategic decision that I took but was a manifestation of my many years of meditation, business experience, and academic training as a marketing PhD, coupled with my inherent passion for inspiring people and finding better ways of doing business that are holistic and mindful. So, make a list of your skills, past experiences, and other attributes that you will bring in meeting your customers needs in a way that no one else can.

5) What you have to offer, your product

Now that you have a clear vision of your purpose, your customers’ needs, and your unique positioning, you can describe what products and services you will be offering. This is an external manifestation of your inner purpose in specific and tangible ways. So, if my inner purpose is to bring mindfulness in business so that people are in touch with their highest purpose and can express that in profitable ways, I have to find ways to make that happen through the services that I offer. I decided to manifest this through consultation, research, and workshops. This step involves making a detailed list of the products and services that you will be offering in terms of detailed attributes and services. It is again important to think in terms of the solutions you will be providing. So I am not just offering mindfulness workshops to corporations, but I am offering solutions that motivate their employees, that help to deal with stress at work, that improve team-work, and enhance creativity.

6) Communicating and educating, the promotion

This includes all the activities involved in promoting and selling your product. This is the fun step where you get to share your work with people. Yet, this is the step I have found many women in business with a purpose having trouble with. So you have this wonderful gift to offer, but you do not want to or perhaps know how to sell your product. Maybe the problem is in the way we situate our attention. Focusing on selling can be a problem because it creates expectations and moves us away from our inner purpose. The solution is to stay with your inner purpose and focus on reaching people who need your service. You are not selling but helping people satisfy a need. Describing what you do is a way of communicating with people who need your services and educating people about things that you may have learned and would like to pass on now. I realized the importance of shifting energy from selling to helping during events I was organizing for a non-profit organization. As long as my focus was on getting the number of people we needed to meet the quota given to us, I was stressed and my attention was wrongly situated in meeting quotas. When I re-connected with what was my initial purpose and went with the energy of simply spreading awareness of the workshops to people who needed this, I found unexpected success and joy in the process of sharing information about the workshops.

7) Understanding your value, the price

There are many ways to set a price for your product. The easiest is a combination using your cost and the price of similar products available in the market. But before you do that, also reflect on how you value your own services. Be clear about how you are benefiting people and what is the value you are providing them. Having clarity of the value you provide to your customers will help you reach a price that is fair to your clients and to you for the time and energy you are devoting. Pricing can be a very tricky process and one area that can benefit a lot from bringing mindfulness to the internal and external factors that influence the price you will charge for your products. The right price is subjective and requires mindfulness of all factors starting from how you value your services to your relationship with money to all the external factors in the environment including your customers and competition.

I have written about mindful pricing tips here.

8) How will your customer find you, the place

The last aspect that you need to consider is the delivery options or the places where your customer can find you. It is important to be aware of the places that your customers are likely to find you. In today’s world this can be a very creative process because there are so many ways of reaching out to your potential clients. Keeping the focus on helping people through your purpose, be creative and find ways to build an energy around your work – be it online through your website and blogs, through newsletters, articles, retail outlets, partners, and other social networks that reach out to your potential clients.

The above process reflects the iAM Approach, which is based on mindfulness, authenticity, and innovative thinking. When your work becomes an authentic expression of who you are and you are mindful and open to new perspectives, life becomes an enjoyable journey.

As a mindful marketer, the above steps reflect my way of being and operating in the marketplace. What are the challenges you face in marketing? What are the solutions you found that have worked for you?


  1. I really like how you mention in "Communicating and Educating" that when you find your purpose, your success will flow from that. I know in my own life when I am committed to something and really enjoy doing it, I find that I am strong enough to overcome all obstacles and make it a success. As a college grad in a difficult market, it is tempting to take any job that pays well, but I know that I have to take the higher road and follow my heart. Ultimately I will be more successful, monetarily and otherwise, if I am eager to wake up every morning to follow my purpose.

  2. Thanks for sharing Vanessa. What you are doing requires not only clarity of purpose but also patience, courage, and creativity. In the face of challenges, it is tempting to take the easy way out; but where is the creativity in that? It requires courage and creativity to find new solutions that are consistent with your purpose. And yet, when we you do face challenges with an open mind and brave heart, we may end up finding solutions that we would have never thought of if everything was smooth sailing. Change can be a good teacher.

    I would love to hear more about your specific challenges and what you are doing to deal with them.