Spiritual Marketing? Eckhart Tolle sat on a park bench.
Thanks to my friend and spiritual marketing provocateur Katharine Dever, I have been really diving into the question of how my teaching and work meets the marketplace in a way that feels congruent with what I stand for.
What do I stand for? Deep awakening to the Truth – that who we are is not separate from the Love we all seek outside ourselves.
How? Undoing the lies of fear and shame that keep us suffering and transmitting pain to the world around us.
The tools? Presence. Authenticity. Truth.
Over and over again I find spiritual teachers and retreat leaders and intuitive counselors and psychics and coaches who promise that their product or service, alone and above all the rest, will completely change your life. It’s like reading a press release for Jesus. And, to tell you the truth, part of me is intimidated. Part of me thinks, “Wow, that is some high level stuff, I better just stick to this little corner over here.”
But then I remember that I have spent thousands of dollars and years of my life buying these promises. I have actually believed the hype many times. I suppose that’s why it works as a sales pitch. There is some part of the human ego structure that really wants to just find the right coaching package or retreat or audio download and be done with it. And that is exactly the egoic consciousness that I am called to dissolve in myself and support others to do the same.
I also must confess to the opposite temptation. Part of me wants to pull the spiritual arrogance card and just dismiss all those people as charlatans and sell-outs and walk away feeling superior. But I have done too much of my own shadow work to be satisfied with that. I own that part of me is jealous. Part of me wants to be looked to as a font of wisdom and have thousands of social media followers and have enough money to never worry about it again. So to simply wash my hands of the whole business and claim spiritual superiority isn’t an option. Part of me is scared I don’t have what it takes to be part of the marketplace and so I know accommodating that fear isn’t the answer. I have to go right into it and find a way to engage that is aligned with my heart.
So I am choosing to go in another direction. How can I be in the marketplace in a way that is integral and aligned to what I stand for? Here’s my marketing manifesto… for now. Like everything, it is an experiment and I will likely add to it as I go.
1. No prices that end in “.99” or “.97”. There is no amount of spiritual numerology that outweighs my judgment that this is just a psychological trick. It is so commonplace that we accept it. But it is not true and doesn’t even attempt to be. $97 is the same as $100. If I can’t sell it for $100 then it’s not worth that.
2. No fear based marketing. Have you noticed that there is a lot of internet marketing out there that tells you all about the cost of “not doing” something? The whole “can you afford not to?” angle? I find this both insulting, as if people can’t work that out for themselves, and also fear-mongering. One of the pillars of traditional marketing is to “establish a need.” In other words, this means to foster scarcity. This is the primary source of all egoic energy – the lie that we are separate from the Source, that there is a problem that needs to be overcome. To do this in the spiritual realm is completely antithetical. I have wept at some folks with powerful messages who have succumbed to this trap. I tried it once myself.
3. Be honest part I. For me, this means no false promises and no false claims to originality. There are no shortcuts on the journey of awakening and healing our false perceptions. No one teaching or one healing is at all likely to be the silver bullet (hint: There are no silver bullets) – we are going to need different teachings and teachers at different stages of the journey. Likewise, there is absolutely zero chance that any teacher is saying anything new. It has all been said before. Moreover, we have all studied and practiced with people whose material we borrow from.
4. Be honest part II. There is a flip side. I must value myself and not be falsely humble. I must be willing to claim my contribution. Each of us has a different voice, a different set of authentic experiences that we synthesize in a unique way. These are precious currents of truth in which what we are saying comes alive in us and this truth will resonate with a particular group of people at this time and cultural context.
5. Tell the truth. I have been wrestling with the idea of affiliate marketing – basically a deal in which I give you a cut of the profits to promote my product with your contacts. In the end, I think the only problem I have is that this backroom deal is not part of the sales pitch. I never hear, “BTW, I am being paid to promote this,” just more of the “if you buy my friend’s product/teaching/workshop then the bluebird of happiness will nest in your branches” stuff. Lies of omission are still lies.
6. Trust. This is maybe the biggest one for me. Trust that the ends and the means are one and the same. Trust that the place I end up is a product of how I get there. Trust that the work of Love and Truth is so much bigger than me and rejoice and be grateful for all the blessings I have already.
At the end of the day, I don’t think I want to be special, I just want to be me. Not excessively important and not falsely humble. As one of my wonderful teachers, a genuine Indian guru, told us, “The only reason I am sitting in this chair and you are not is because I am sitting in this chair.”