Marketing is never the first place to look at transforming your business although it is vital.
I used to think that the issue of not getting the desired level of business is with poor marketing or not enough marketing.
But eventually, I realised that is often just a surface problem.
Many times, entrepreneurs are misled by the marketing campaigns done by companies with big budget. Then, they start to model after these big budget approaches and chased after the next shiny object that these companies used.
We think that “MORE is better.” Hence, we strive to put ourselves out there through as many channels and media as possible in order to get ourselves noticed.
Most of the time, small business owners and marketers without big budget will try on anything that is free or at least low-cost to see if it works, without a deep understanding of what they are doing.
As a result, precious time and resources are wasted on stuff that doesn’t work. This led people to jump onto the next bandwagon, preached by the marketing gurus and trends experts out there.
I’ve seen this showing up in many occasions whenever someone asked for help in marketing. What usually follows is their friends started giving them a whole range of ideas, hacks, strategies and suggestions from mobile apps, video marketing, webinars, Instagram, Snapchat to events marketing. The list goes on.
This attitude of binge marketing holds a broken mentality that plagued many entrepreneurs and businesses - to GET and GRAB as many people out there as possible instead of attracting their tribe.
And this sickness is what the marketing industry is suffering from.
That is because it is seen as a tool, a very powerful one to persuade and manipulate the senses, the desires and perception of pain and pleasure.
On a subconscious level, marketers then use dehumanising language to communicate with the audience. They think of people not as human beings with real human needs, but as an opportunity with potential consumers to be manipulated into parting with their money.
Therefore, marketing becomes a left-brain, numbers game and transactional exercise instead of an authentic human exchange.
As such, entrepreneurs start to look at their target audience as victims of hedonism where there is an instant gratification potential to be satisfied.
It shows anything about us from having a lack of something to being not good enough, except that the audience is complete and whole as an individual to begin with.
I remembered one of the internet marketing experts who said that as marketers, our job is to leave our audience hungrier for more.
This mentality, unfortunately, gets spilled over into many businesses, with many ended up trying to compensate their substandard products and services with marketing.
And they are sometimes perceived as selling false hope and ideals, even though they started off with good intentions.
This spillover effect also impacted those who have great products and services to offer but often find it tough to get through to their tribe with all these mass distractions created by marketing and media.
Worst still, some of these ethical businesses and great companies ended up employing these traditional marketing methods advocated by clever marketers that could only result in tarnishing their brand further.
We may like to fool ourselves thinking that our target audience are naive but a rise of online comments such as the ones below proves to demonstrate otherwise.
Consumers are growing to become more conscious in their consumption.
A research from Mintel in 2015 reveals that 56 percent of US consumers stop buying from companies they believe are unethical.
What’s more, over one-third (35 percent) of consumers stop buying from brands they perceive as unethical even if there is no substitute available and 27 percent stop purchasing even if they think the competitor offers lower quality.
Overall, more than three in five consumers feel that ethical issues are becoming more important (63 percent).
Some 34 percent of consumers will tell others when they perceive a brand to be making ethical actions or actions that are honest, fair and responsible, while another 29 percent of consumers will take to social media to share their support of ethical companies.
Integrity becomes a big consideration especially these days.
This would then mean how can we engage people honestly and ethically, without the hype, to help them make good choices, even if that means not buying our product or service?
The way to go about this is to stop being a binge marketer and treating your customers as merely a means to an end.
Start consciously building your brand from inside out. What is your purpose? Why you do what you do? How do you make a real difference to the lives of your clients? What is so good about your business, your service and your product that clients really love you for? What do you truly stand for with regards to the group of people who matters?
This reminds me of what Simon Sinek, author of the classic "Start With Why"; and his latest book "Leaders Eat Last” said:
“The game of business is infinite. Most businesses are operating as if they’re in a finite game. They’re playing to ‘win.’”
“A finite player is trying to beat everyone else. An infinite player is trying to advance themselves.”
That has a lot of implications on how you grow your business and the question of "Where are you going?"
Most people don't really know. They're running a race, and don't know why.
Without a clear vision & purpose, you're not as equipped to decide which opportunities to take. And very often, you get distracted by the path of least resistance that leads you nowhere.
Players who played the finite game are usually obsessed about winning the biggest pie. It is always about who wins and who lose. It is a zero-sum game.
However, for those playing the infinite game, it is about the long game of sustainable growth.
In the infinite game, you can break all the rules. But it takes three things:
They see that they have a bigger role to play in the context of who they are serving.
The infinite game is based on values. The finite game is based on interests. And people make buying decisions based more on trust (which comes from shared values), than purely based on interests.
A litmus test of a conscious brand is this: "Is it worth sharing?"
If your business is all about you and what you want to profit from, then it isn't worth sharing.
To be a brand worth sharing, it has to build upon something that truly matters. It needs to demonstrate to people that it cares to make a difference on something bigger, beyond just the business or the company's self-interests.
Ultimately, when you are clear and aligned with a bigger purpose, declaring what you stand for, both strategically and tactically, you are then able to communicate to people what you believe (not what you do) and those who share similar values will join you.
A holistic communicator and purpose coach who cares about the bigger picture that connects the dots towards sustainable growth, healing and transformation. His purpose and intention behind whatever he does is to translate life’s wisdom into practical applications which can be adopted by others.