Saturday, June 13, 2009

1. I love what I do, but marketing, that stresses me out: Common Misperceptions about Marketing

Are you one of those women who has something beautiful to offer to this world, but does not feel comfortable marketing it? This blog posting is a response to women’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 below separately.

There are many (mis)interpretations of what marketing is and the purpose of this post series is:

1) To bring awareness to some reasons for negative perceptions about marketing (which you can read below)

2) To clarify the meaning of marketing and differentiate it from related terms like selling and advertising (this post can be found by clicking on the highlighted link)

3) To lay out the eight steps in marketing as a systematic and natural aspect of living a mindful life (this post can be found by clicking on the highlighted link)

Why do you dislike or avoid marketing? Some answers…
Part 1 of 3 of “I love what I do, but marketing, that stresses me out.”

It is not uncommon to find marketing associated with negative feelings ranging from complete hatred for it, to fearing it, to finding it extremely stressful. And there are good reasons to feel that way about marketing. Part 1 of the posting deals with some reasons for the negativity around marketing.

Marketing, a double-edged sword: Marketing has earned a bad name because of its misuse by big companies who have put their shareholders’ welfare before other stakeholders’ wellbeing. As such it is easy to mistake marketing, which is merely a tool, as the cause of evil. It is not marketing but the collective consciousness of the people using the tool that needs to change. Marketing, as a tool, can be used to bring more awareness and benefit people or it can be misused to benefit only a few – like any other tool, it is a double-edged sword.

Difference between marketing and bad marketing: The other negative association we may have with marketing is our personal experience as consumers who have at some time or the other been victims of aggressive sales people, junk mail, and bad advertising. Clearly, there are many examples of bad marketing – marketing that is not thought through properly or focuses narrowly on some aspects of marketing or does a bad job of implementation. And again, it is easy to generalize the effects of bad marketing to the whole discipline of marketing. I find this transference of bad marketing to the entire field of marketing very interesting, because this doesn’t happen in other fields. For example, there are many examples of bad music but that doesn’t make us dislike music all together; or there are many bad books, but we do not shun writing because of that; and there are bad accountants; but we do not shun accountancy? I suspect this has to do with people lacking a clear understanding of what marketing is and what are its benefits, while we are quote aware of the negative impact of bad marketing.

Fear of the unknown: Feelings of fear can arise because it is natural to fear the unknown. Because our training was in an entirely different discipline, we do not really know what marketing entails. Lack of our personal understanding of marketing coupled with a general misunderstanding of what marketing really involves, makes marketing very elusive and therefore avoidable.

Marketing the sacred will make it profane: This way of thinking applies especially to women in spiritual healing or pursuits that they hold as sacred and feel that marketing such services will in some way be irreverent or inconsistent with their values. Again, the basis of such perceptions arises from misunderstanding the purpose of marketing and what it entails. Whether it was Mother Teresa or spiritual teachers like Deepak Chopra, each one of them has used marketing in some form or the other to be able to maximize the scope of their service to people. You can either do it with awareness and do a good job it or do it without awareness and do a bad job of it – there is no escaping it entirely. As you will read in part 3 of this posting, marketing can be a natural outcome of who you are and as such is an enjoyable process.

Lack of clear purpose: It has been my personal experience that when I am not clear in my own head about what I want to say, it is hard to write about it. And also, if I am not passionate about what I have to share, it is hard to speak about it. So, if you are hesitating to market your product or service, it may well be that you are not sure about what it is that you are offering or how it will benefit your customers.

Too busy: No doubt life is busy and stressful for most people, and especially for women as we juggle our love for our families, work, and inner journeys. Multi-tasking can either drive people to procrastination or getting stuck in routines that we are comfortable with but preclude creativity and openness to learning about things we do not already know. I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s words, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” It is important, especially in stressful times, to learn new ways of marketing that will save you time down the road and to have a clear marketing plan that allows you to plan for your time and efforts effectively.

In most cases, the negative perceptions about marketing are due to a misunderstanding of what marketing is, so I will address that in my next posting.

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