Many entrepreneurs – particularly conscious entrepreneurs – find themselves at odds with the traditional business planning and marketing approaches. And yet all organizations, be they for-profit or non-profit, must market effectively to generate the revenues and awareness that serve the organization’s mission and purpose.
One of the problems that integrity focused entrepreneurs have with traditional approaches, both to entrepreneurship and marketing, is the seeming lack of ethics and integrity inherent in many organizations’ efforts. Surely, one needs to look no further than mainstream corporations and politics to see how marketing can be a tool for manipulation and deception.
What’s more, frankly, some entrepreneurs – particularly those whose spiritual endeavors plainly guide their livelihood efforts – have problems with anything that bluntly connects to making money, as marketing and sales surely do. These entrepreneurs are called into business as an avenue for making a positive contribution to the world, and haven’t yet found the way to make peace with the fact that money, like marketing, is a neutral tool that can be as easily used for positive ends as negative ones.
Whether or not such tools are used with integrity and honesty depends wholly on the integrity and honesty of those undertaking the efforts.
For those who consider themselves conscious entrepreneurs, or who strive to be conscious entrepreneurs, effective and genuine marketing is crucial. How else are you going to create a viable enterprise through which to do your work? How else are you going to help raise awareness, and draw to you the people that might be best served by your conscious products and services?
If you approach your marketing with positive intention and clear vision and goals, and communicate honestly, you’ll have good results and a clear conscience. And you may even have a little bit of fun.
Tips for conscious-enterprise marketers:
- Be clear about your vision: Many micro-enterprise owners and conscious entrepreneurs know what they do, and they have an inherent understanding of their own good intentions and their honest belief in the merits of their products and services. And yet it’s surprising how few people can really articulate what they and they’re enterprise are really about, and what they hope to help bring about. Good marketing – and satisfying, rewarding entrepreneuring – must start with a crystal clear, and deeply authentic, vision. Clear and authentic actions flow more naturally from a clear, authentic, and meaningful vision.
- Be clear about your ideal customers: When I speak with clients and other entrepreneurs, very few have really visualized and articulated the group or groups of clients whom they think would be best served by the products and services they offer through their business. Fewer still go more deeply, visualizing and articulating the clients with whom they’d really enjoy working. Knowing both makes it easier to focus and strategize, and much easier to select and implement the perfect marketing approaches. Haphazard or vague vision and action yields haphazard and vague results. Be clear about what you want to create and who you want to work with, and you’re more likely to find your way to just that.
- Be clear about your messages: When you look at various marketing materials – from web sites to email newsletters, to brochures and even the entrepreneur’s “look” (particularly if they’re including speaking and public appearances as a key marketing tool) – what conclusions do you draw? Everything helps to send a message. The problem with this, of course, is whether everything works together to tell a consistent message, or whether the message is the one you actually want to be sending. Worse yet is when there is no consistency or authenticity at all, and potential clients have no way of clearly finding their way to you. Clear, effective messages distributed through marketing avenues help to articulate not only your vision, but also communicate the “true you”, which is what your ideal customers want to connect to. Who are you? What are you about? Does your marketing say that – clearly – about you?
- Be clear about your ideal marketing approaches: There is a finite roster of potential marketing approaches, though you can surely get creative with them and tailor them to your own style. And yet certain approaches will make use of your natural talents and skills – so you’ll enjoy them more – and other marketing approaches may seem ill-suited to you, so you’ll either do them poorly or avoid them outright. Public speaking and traditional “grip and grin” networking are two examples of traditional marketing approaches that either jazz you, if you’re an extroverted person, or give you hives if you’re not a natural crowd-person. If the thought of giving speeches makes you ill, there are many other options. There are even ways for you to speak publicly in a way that’s natural and more suited to you. The same is true for writing and other potential marketing strategies and tactics. Know your talents, but also know your manner, and make your marketing work for you.
- Be clear about qualitative results: Many people “shoot from the hip”, with no clear vision, conscious-enterprise plan, or marketing plan. Without a clearly articulated vision, you can’t create the strategy that will be most natural and effective for you. And without an effective, natural strategy, you’ll have a harder time making the best and easiest choices for daily and weekly activities. Working smarter, not harder, requires thoughtfulness about not just quantitative results – e.g. so many customers and such-and-such revenues – but also qualitative results, such as the lifestyle, work style, relationship style. Being clear about qualitative results keeps you aligned with what you’re doing on a daily and tactical basis. Being unclear, or only articulating general quantitative goals, often results (for conscious entrepreneurs, especially) in foggy thinking, stagnant motivation, and a detachment from a sense of purpose. In the worst cases, a lack of clear vision and qualitative goals can result in subconscious sabotage.
- Be clear about quantitative results: Conscious enterprises, like any other enterprises, must be sustainable if they are to be effective vessels for carrying and implementing the vision and mission. To be sure, there are times when an unconscious focus on “outside in” quantitative goals can make you tunnel-visioned, so you’re not seeing other opportunities and you’re actually limiting yourself to what you’ve quantitatively defined. But without any sense of quantitative goals, you can be too vague and easily disconnect from necessary right-action. Again, for conscious entrepreneurs particularly, it’s important that quantitative goals be very clearly guided by clear vision and higher purpose, and supported by an effective business and marketing plan.
- Be clear about masterful follow-through: Since many micro-enterprise entrepreneurs enjoy and rely upon “word of mouth” marketing to help spread the word about their products and services, skillful and effective follow-through is crucial. Masterful ways of working, and thoughtful customer service, becomes a valuable marketing tool, while also allowing for the continued development of the entrepreneur and an avenue for both spiritual and professional meaning. This doesn’t mean “perfectionism,” but it does mean that intention and skillfulness are clear to others. For most of us, this is “a work in progress,” but if it’s a conscious goal – to make mastery and right relationship an aspect of your way of working, so customers and colleagues will feel great about repeating their business and referring you to others – it can be included in your weekly or daily intention list as you begin the day, and can be included in your own vision check-ins and assessments along the way.
This material is offered as food-for-thought rather than customized counsel. As always, the most effective strategy is one that’s specifically tailored to your unique organizational culture, group personality, and individual needs.
This article was originally featured at Ivy Sea Online and is reprinted with permission.