slow marketing

I’m in Vancouver sitting at yet another favourite hang out spot here – Eternal Abundance (full of raw vegan goodness, comfy chairs, high ceilings and lots of natural light). I love places like this.

I just finished my weekend workshop in Vancouver (and Victoria the weekend before that). You can see photos here.

And something clicked for me this weekend. I’m calling it ‘Slow Marketing’. You’ve likely heard about the Slow Food movement (from which I borrow this colourful snail) and Carol Honore’s book In Praise of Slow.

And, for some reason, I’d never considered how that might apply to marketing.

But, over the weekend, I was sharing how marketing is like baseball and that we can’t ‘skip bases’ in building our relationships with people. First there needs to be clarity, then trust, then some excitement . . . and then a commitment. It can take time to build relationships with our clients. Some things can’t be rushed.

And one woman expressed her thanks, ‘I’d never considered that before.’  Something about knowing that it was okay to go slow felt confirming of her best instincts and affirming that she hadn’t failed just because she’d not gotten immediate results.

Most marketing we see is so fast.

Lynn Serafinn wrote a beautiful book called The Seven Graces of Marketing where she contrasts the common place sins of marketing with the potential graces of marketing. One of the sins she talks about is scarcity. And so much marketing is based on creating a sense of scarcity, ‘act now while supplies last’. We see seminars full of people rushing to the back of the room to sign up for a next level workshop they don’t fully understand and can’t entirely afford (and that may or may not be a fit).

So much rushing.

And it seems to work. But what you don’t end up seeing is the huge numbers of people who get ‘buyers remorse’ and cancel their participation in the programs. Or go to it and then ask for a refund because it wasn’t a fit (and then become extremely bitter when they can’t get a refund). What we sometimes fail to notice is the cynicism these tactics create in the marketplace. And the low level panic we all live in.

I remember when I first started in sales, it certainly wasn’t something I knew. I was cold calling people and trying to pressure them into making decisions. It was all I knew how to do. I thought you had to do that. Of course, it was all under the auspices of empowering them. But pressure is pressure. And it was all so fast moving. It wasn’t until years later that I began to learn that by slowing my marketing down it worked better.

It’s like irrigating a field, the slower you drip in the water the deeper it goes.

But so much marketing is so fast. It’s ‘buy now’ and ‘closing people’ and ‘converting prospects’ and creating ‘irresistible offers’. It’s ‘double your income in 30 days’ and ‘lose 50 pounds overnight!’

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people express shock that I’ve not written a book yet or developed more ‘advanced level’ seminars. But I knew I wasn’t ready yet – I was still cooking. I knew I was still figuring out what I wanted to say. And I knew that, eventually, something would click and I’d be ready and that things would flow fast.

I remember being told about the Chinese bamboo tree. You plant it and you don’t see anything grow for five years. Even though you’re doing everything right. And then, in the 5th year, it grows ninety feet in ninety days. Some of us are like that.

It’s the tortoise, not the hare.

Martin Luther (the founder of Lutheranism) used to meet with important people and had an aide who would help him organize these things. One day, his aide looked in awe at the number of important meetings and things he had to do and said to Martin Luther, “Tomorrow is so busy that I suppose you will only be able to spend half an hour in meditation instead of your usual hour.” And Luther responded, “No. Tomorrow is so important I will spend two hours in meditation.”

The higher the stakes feel, the more tempting it is to move fast . . . and the more important it is to slow things down.

Panic is not a business strategy.

What would happen if we all. slowed. down. our marketing?

Here’s what Slow Marketing means for me . . .

To me this means that even figuring out our core platform and finding our voice takes time. It’s like making tea and sometimes we just need to steep for a while in figuring out what we’re all about.

It means that we can accept that sometimes it will take a while to build trust with people we’ve just met.

It means that instead of pressuring people to buy right now, we encourage them to sleep on it and sit with it to make sure it’s really a fit (so that any clients we get are solid and long term).

It means that when we sit with a client to explore going to the next level with us – we really sit with them. We take them in. We receive what they have to say. We pause before responding.

And that means that we really take time to sit with what kinds of clients are actually a perfect fit for us.

It means we remember that, in terms of relationships with clients, forever matters more than today.

It means that we’re okay being an apprentice for a time. We’re okay learning the ropes and not needing to be ‘discovered’ and famous tomorrow.

It means that we don’t rush to write our book, create our products but slow down a bit so we can focus on crafting what we do to make it even better so that it really helps people more. We work on building our boat instead of trying to swim people from one island to another on our back. We build up the systems and checklists in our business that help us relax and know that we’ll be prepared for things as they come.

It means we don’t just accept that we sometimes need to slow down, but that we enjoy it. We relish in it.

It means it might be okay (even wonderful!) for us to have a day job while we build our business up.

It means that we acknowledge and honour each potential client’s unique right timing to work with us (or not).

It means we slow ourselves down, get still inside and let go of the panic that comes from posturing or collapsing. That we create space in our lives where we can and listen to our intuition.

It means we let emails to our list sit overnight instead of sending them out immediately.

It means we run our marketing ideas by friends and colleagues before trotting them out to the market place. We let things sit.

It means we plan further ahead to give ourselves time.

It means that we get really good at finding ways to make our business safe to approach for people and easy to buy from us. We give them lots of ways to sample what we do for free, from a distance. We do what we can to reduce the risk for people.

It means we slow down our conversations with potential clients and really listen. Instead of pushing, we lean back. Instead of starting to give advice, we get more curious about their situation. Instead of skipping over a challenge, we go deeply into exploring it.

It means that we focus on building and deepening our relationship to key hubs and community leaders instead of trying to reach our clients cold.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ‘Slow Marketing’ means for you. You can write them in the comments below. But no rush.

About Tad

  • Kebibby

    I LOVE this: “Panic is not a business strategy”.  I cannot tell you how many times the “have to” and “should” mode gets rolling inside my head…

    “times a wastin” has been a popular notion in our culture (I’m speaking American as that’s what I know).   I love this writing because you’re coming from allowing our path to unfold rather than the approach of  finding a marketable niche and pushing it along.  

    Having just graduated from your Marketing 101 class, I realize how deep I had to go to allow the discovery of my life’s purpose and have my business serve that purpose.  It’s so key. 

    If we are not serving ourselves first, no one get’s served in the end and if no one get’s served, the business won’t last.

    In the past, I wondered if I was too late coming to this approach because of my age (over 60).  Now, I know it doesn’t matter when, it matters now, in the present moment! 

    If I only reach one other person and my being in their lives is a positive influence, then it’s worth it.

  • Andrea

    This SO works for me, Tad. You’ve really tapped into something potent. Slowness distills things to their essence. People know this; they can sense it in their bones. Slowness breeds quality and authenticity. It is also an antidote to everything else we defend ourselves from in the rushing world. Slowness is not procrastination or collapsing. It is a poised attentiveness, an alive mindfulness. You really tapped the nail on the head with this one, Tad. Many thanks!

  • Christina

    Great perspective.  Having a degree in Marketing…ancient as it is, I’ve always felt some degree of guilt, attempting to convince, cajole, pressure people in to purchasing one more something they likely don’t need, including the desire for it.  Whether we realize it or not, we are always marketing something, mostly ourselves.
    So, I agree, much like food or sex, some of our best results are when we take it slow.
    Thanks for a great weekend in Vancouver Tad!

  • Hey gorgeous man, thanks for this.

    The “sitting with” concept is so beautiful. I learnt it from Mark Silver many moons ago and it makes for a much more peaceful, sustainable business. Decisions feel resonant and built-to-last. I’ve also learnt that some level of “this offer ends ____” does help my clients. I avoided doing it for ages, not wanting to create that panicky urgency you see in some businesses, but I’ve discovered a way of doing it that feels authentic – whether it’s an early-bird price (there’s a reason for it – it makes life easier for me logistically when organising an event or programme) or a two-week 2-for-1 offer (there’s a reason – I’m moving my focus on to promote a new product). I’ve found my Tribe (my ideal clients) respond well to this – with gratitude! – because they actually want someone to say “Is now the time? Then act now!” It means the impulse to move forward has an excuse to win over the fears. 

    With love + respect (and oh my gosh – VERY excited to see you again soon. Hugs ahoy!)

  • Hey gorgeous man, thanks for this.

    The “sitting with” concept is so beautiful. I learnt it from Mark Silver many moons ago and it makes for a much more peaceful, sustainable business. Decisions feel resonant and built-to-last. I’ve also learnt that some level of “this offer ends ____” does help my clients. I avoided doing it for ages, not wanting to create that panicky urgency you see in some businesses, but I’ve discovered a way of doing it that feels authentic – whether it’s an early-bird price (there’s a reason for it – it makes life easier for me logistically when organising an event or programme) or a two-week 2-for-1 offer (there’s a reason – I’m moving my focus on to promote a new product). I’ve found my Tribe (my ideal clients) respond well to this – with gratitude! – because they actually want someone to say “Is now the time? Then act now!” It means the impulse to move forward has an excuse to win over the fears. 

    With love + respect (and oh my gosh – VERY excited to see you again soon. Hugs ahoy!)

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  • Christy Lee-Engel

    Hello Tad,

    It was a pleasure to meet and chat with you yesterday at Bastyr – I really appreciate that you and Deb shared your lunchtime with Kate and me.

    Your thoughtful, heartful post reminds me of these two things:

    Deena Metzger’s “There is time only to work slowly. There is no time not to love”

    and seeing Ram Dass on stage a few years ago, the special guest at a Krishna Das concert. Post-stroke, he was wheeled out onto the stage, beaming radiantly. Every word he spoke was separated from the next by a pause of many seconds, as he worked hard – but without struggle, without awkwardness – to bring the words from mind to mouth. Everyone in the audience listened so carefully. Full of love, and humor, and sadness, too. Not avoiding any of it.

    all the best to you, and looking forward to what might be next,

  • I really like this. My natural tendency is to move slowly. It is where I am more comfortable and I don’t want my clients to feel pressured. This creates a bit of friction at times with others in my life who want. Results. Now. 

  • Jackie

    Thanks, Tad.  This is a refreshingly wholesome perspective on the relationship building behind the best sales, the ones that everyone is happy with.  Really appreciate your taking the time to write.  Cheers, Jackie

  • Jeff Stewart

    Tad, I work for Nia. We are a educational company . The interesting element of Nia as related to your posting is that we really have had no choice but to market as you describe. Nia is to personal to buy ads. After 30 years we are just now beginning to be able to articulate what we do in a consistent manner. What has happened is after 30 years through our collective commitment to represent the work with integrity we have grown and the foundation of adapters is broad and deep. WE are no Zumba. But we are here to stay…… 30 years to build a brand … Slow maybe by some measures…. look at how long it took yoga.
    I look forward to attending one of your sessions soon and I will suggest to Nia teachers they to study your teachings.  It’s a new day, thank you for your voice.
    Jeff Stewart
    Nia Technique Inc.

  • Danielle Eastman

    I love this idea. Thank you so much, Tad!

  • HI Tad,
    I really appreciate your thoughtful approach. When I slow down, whether in marketing or in life, I no longer feel like I’m “being pulled at the end of the leash”. I get to lead by consciously and pleasurable crafting. It’s the times when I’ve felt rushed, panicked by keeping up with others, that drain my creativity and enthusiasm.

    Thanks for reminding me and others that we all have a natural time.

  • “Slow Marketing”….music to a Taurean Girl’s ears!  : )   And from the perspective of a Sacred Athlete, Nia Somatic Body-Mind-Spirit Integrative Educator, Psychotherapist, Mover & Shaker…it feels AUTHENTIC.  TRANSPARENT.  The way of being in business that lights my fire, turns me on, has my cells saying, “YES” to my place in the marketplace.  Thank you for affirming that ‘slower’ can be…IS…better! 

    Jule Aguirre
    Nia Trainer, Somatic Educator, Integrative Psychotherapist

  • AdelleBrewer

    Love your article. I own a large movement studio in San Antonio, and our tag line ‘movement for everyBody’ is followed by ‘we are making a difference one Body at a time.’ One body, one conversation, one connection, one relationship. My marketing philosophy. A successful business is built one person at a time.
    It takes time and passion.
    Thanks again!
    Adelle Brewer
    Owner, The Synergy Studio
    San Antonio, Texas

  • Kellie Adkins

    Tad, thank you for this post. So timely & necessary. I’ve personally felt a tremendous amount of pressure to go fast, launch products, just get things out there & it hasn’t felt right, even though that’s supposedly the ‘way’ one should market. I appreciate hearing your thoughts & totally agree with the wisdom behind them.

  • Jane

    Tad, I love your ongoing enthusiasm but, honestly, there have been many times your emails come in that I let them sit, or don’t read them at all, because it feels like just too much press for me in my day. Listening to my instinct today, I  immediately read your piece on Slow Marketing. It really speaks to me – and it energizes me in a calm way, just the place I know I work and live best from. Thank you! So far – for it has not perked much yet – the only point I would add is: It means slowing down to just be present with and really listen to what a client or potential client (who is a fit) is saying. Then to intentionally take time later, on your own, to open to whatever it might have to teach you about how you are positioning and marketing your services. Jane

  • Tad, this is great. I believe it’s been called “organic” growth, rather than a stutter step staircase of huge ups and a few downs in between, etc. In the second business I started, I was making sales calls and doing meetings day after day, and I annoyed a lot of people by putting pressure on to make decisions. I felt personally upset that people didn’t seem to value my time, but there I was, not letting them take their time to evaluate my offerings. I think many in the green world don’t like to be pressured, so this kind of approach likely works much better. 

  • Andrea J. Lee

    Tad, blessings to you, and on this articulation… thank you for taking the time to land on it.  A morsel I would add is that by putting on the lens of ‘going slow’ some remarkable realizations can occur.

    For example, the ‘sales cycle’ of your business can become clear.  In the fast-marketing sphere, when the question gets asked ‘what is the lifetime value of your client’ for example, usually the measure used is a year.  So, how much money did a client spend with your business in a year.  

    But it’s so intriguing.  What I have known to be true about my business, and I feel it more deeply each passing month, is that I tend to have an incredibly long ‘sales cycle.’ People will say ‘I read your book in 2005 and am so excited to come see in you in person at your workshop.  Isn’t that fun? Also because when this person says they’re ready, wow! I know they are really ready. And I haven’t had to push, prod, egg on, urgent-ize or scarcity-ize. It works. Play the long game and the hype and panic melt like buttah, deliciously. :)  One of my favorite learnings from Chris Carmichael when he taught at our 3-day workshop a year ago…he was Lance Armstrong’s coach, and supported him to 7 Tour de France wins is this: “We treated every Tour de France like training for the next Tour de France.” 

  • Wendy

    Dear Tad, this is one of your best pieces. It’s refreshing in a fast-paced marketing world..I sat on this email until I had the time to read it. :)
    The lines I particularly like are “It means we don’t just accept that we sometimes need to slow down, but that we enjoy it. We relish in it.
    It means it might be okay (even wonderful!) for us to have a day job while we build our business up. and It means we plan further ahead to give ourselves time.” because they resonate with me so much.
    I got so pumped at your intensive a year and a half ago but totally lost my footing until I got clearer about why integrity and spaciousness is so important to me…in everything I do…without compromise.
    Slow means that I take as much time as I need to connect with people. Long term relationships take time and nourishment. Savour the life. There is no rush, as you said.
    It means that I take however long it takes to get clear about my offerings, being of service, so that I offer from my whole heart and being.
    It means that I harvest the learning from my mistakes and know that I’m doing the best I can in every moment.
    It means that I take time to play, rest, and hug the ones I love because that’s where my creative energy comes from.
    It means that I reach out for help and slow down to fully receive the gifts others have to offer especially when it doesn’t look like I thought it would.
    It means to breathe and be grateful.
    Thanks for inviting us to slow down. 
    Hugs, Wendy

  • Hey Tad – I love this.  It makes me feel like I’m not a failure for not having a six figure business (yet :-)).  It makes me feel hopeful that with time, integrity and patience that my business will grow.  That if I keep doing the right things and moving in the right direction then eventually I’ll get that 90 foot bamboo tree.  I also LOVE what Martin Luther King said about taking longer to meditate on his busiest day.  Great stuff.  Thanks for sharing.

  • Lev Natan

    Hey Tad,

    Thank you.  This is a powerful reminder for me about truly “being on the journey” as I head into Evolve 2012 Initiative next week.  I appreciate the advice from Martin Luther to meditate for two hours this week, instead of just one, and this article gives me a new spaciousness around the discovery session that I have scheduled for tomorrow morning.

    thanks again,

  • Truly scrumptious Tad – I spent a wee while bollocking myself for taking so lon to craft my website, my bio and my book – Life’s a Load of Balls – How to Master the Game of Life and Handle Yours.
    I’m an Energy Health Consultant & Enthusiologist empowering people to raise their mojo  and cultivate opportunities that expand their natural capabilities – the way nature intended.  Note the last four words – well hello Philippa, practise what you preach!
    One knows in ones heart, extra esepcially when your roots feel supportive that you’re connecting with the essence of your true nature.  It takes time to blossom.
    Thanks for putting your spin on the concept of patience – I’m savouring the feeling.

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  • Hi Tad,
    I was introduced to your work by a friend and fellow therapist. I am so pleased – I really like your approach. I have so many people asking me when I am going to ‘write that book’ – and I almost want to say ‘when it it writes itself’. Of course I don’t mean that literally, but I know when the time is right, it will feel like part of the flow.

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  • Alyse Parise

    Thank you Tad for your refreshing approach that really honors the client and what is being offered. Too many supposed “gurus” out there are disguising supposed “pull” marketing with a pushy offer that is time bound.
    Right now I have 30 people to contact after I talk I delivered. The talk does not fit perfectly into the current program that I offer. You have helped me find the answer regarding what will I offer.Instead of thinking I know what the offer needs to be,and throwing a new program together, I am going to talk to most of them and listen to what they really need instead of thinking I know what they need. They are all local. This flies in the face of a typical “strategy session” script.Thanks for helping me decide that I will leave each conversation with an agreement to get back to them within a week after I have spoken to most of them, with a program that will fit their most of their needs. Then they can decide, if it is for them.No prodding and act now to get this deal!Alyse from

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  • Loni gray

    This is especially true in the start-up, where we’re trying to feel out our first niche or the bigger niche’s values and get it authentic and spot on. We’ve worked so hard to get our boat right that it legitimately takes us time to shift over to their journey and stop talking about our great services.
    It is unfortunate that many of us are strained by economics that tend to pressure our choices “so we can get on with it!” But we cannot short cut, in the long run, its the short run to build the relationship and share the values and build the trust. (In Albee’s one act version of, “Zoo Story” the young punk irritates a quiet gentlemen in a park until the old man shoots the younger man, which was exactly his aim. The whole effort was to that end, and was indeed the only way he could accomplish his goal, since he couldn’t do it himself. We can’t do it ourselves either….we need the trust relationship with our customer base to achieve our business goals.)

    Your know that I”m not a coach but a residential space planner, and it still applies. Your post is quite synchronistic- your timing impeccable Tad. It just so happens that I’ve started thinking about my mission as having my clients understand “slow dwelling.” Whether they’re into transition towns, or the more convenient but still important “Go Local” movement, they can also think about how to make their homes a part of their value set, and ask it to give them more of what they need. over time. And my new, being-written product is a thinking/feeling tool to help them find their way to that.
    Slow dwelling…how tasty!

  • Natalie Currie

    Hi Tad: This is one of my many favourite blog posts but for some reason I didn’t previously comment. As a coach who supports the sustainability community, particularly the slow food community I believe slow is the only way to go in marketing. Slow is about taking time to develop and nurture relationships and to support each other as a community would do historically. Old school is new once again!

  • Cindy

    thankkkkk youuuuuuuuu!!!!! i REALLY needed to hear this. I have had experiences of people marketing things to me in a FAST matter and yes I felt I should opt-in immediately, even when I didn’t know them, and then later finding out it wasn’t a match for me. Goes to show that old method only creates temporary relationships. the ones that stay…will probably be a SMALL percentage. I am building my own small business in yoga and fitness…and I want lasting relationships. And I feel the only way to do that is by reallllyyy getting to GROW those relationships. you build TRUST!! i think the trust is key!! thank you!!

  • so glad this resonated so much with you. yes. i’m more and more convinced of this principle every day.

  • rebecca @ altared spaces

    You arrived at the perfect moment in my life. Today things are busy. Dizzy and I was wondering how I could slow down. You’ve pointed out more than a handful here for me to hand on to. My book can sit a bit. My boat can float in the water. Naming things takes time. What a gift. You are like breath to me today.

    I wrote about slowness as a parent here: and you reminded me that I know how to do this in another area of my life. I can simply apply the same principles to my biz. How kind of you. Thank you.

  • Gwen Orwiler

    Tad I’m a pretty rapid kind of gal, I get excited and passionate and I want to take action, NOW!. However, every time I read anything that you write I feel like I’m putting on a comfy pair of jeans. Ahhhhhh…. It feels just right. THANK YOU! One day, when I’m ready, I plan to attend one of your weekends. Thanks for all you do to make the world a saner place!! Hugs from WA state

    Gwen, The Emotional Freedom Coach

  • thanks gwen. adrenalin can feel really exciting :-) and i notice the same thing – when i slow down it feels good in a deeper, ‘well being’ sort of good.

  • ComAssist

    At ComAssist, we mentor “Trust, Brand, Margin, Choice©” through a series of steps that take investigation, discernment and commitment. It takes a while, and we move at a pace that leaves a solid foundation that can survive storms and surprises. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here; it is always nice to see someone preaching some of the same beliefs we hold. Best wishes for much continued success. Larry

  • Wendy McDonnell

    this so resonates with me today Tad. i am still digesting your marketing materials from a weekend in Toronto a few years ago. i’m taking my time to find my voice and get the support i need to do business well…with health and happiness in mind. i want to go slow. it’s my speed…especially when i’m homeschooling with my 4 kids while working…and it’s what i want for my clients too. thank you for the message and i wish you well.

  • Ellen Omvlee

    Wow. Hits it right on the spot. I am like the tortoise, not the hare! It fits just right that this post took the long slow road to me. ;-) A beautiful side effect of going slow like a tortoise is that I see more of the road than the hare. Sometime it drives me crazy though, and your post puts it again in the right perspective for me. So thanks Tad!

  • Hi Tad,
    Reading your article felt like an exhale. I started my business, Esteem Coaching 7 months ago and I’ve been working hard to create a website, develop a list, establish FB and twitter followers, conduct workshops, work with clients, blog, create educational marketing etc. etc. I have a corporate background and everything worked at warp speed so slowing down seems like a foreign concept. I admire what you’ve developed and if you can slow down it’s a beautiful reflection that I can slow down.
    Thank you again. I’ll print this post and keep it as a reminder!
    p.s. – I’m heading to Whistler in July! Can’t wait to see your beautiful part of the country again.

  • jennifer. so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Catrina

    This article was just GREAT! I am going to start my own business and Ive been doing some research on how to go about doing some things. In the business I’m planning on going into I believe that “slow marketing” is key. I’m not going to be successful by signing just anybody up. I’m going to need quality people who have the same convictions and life goals I have about the business. Deep inside I knew this. Thanks for the confirmation!

  • Catrina. I’m so glad you liked this and that it confirmed what you already knew :-)

  • Anayalea

    I am exploring a business start up in a small town. After reading your thoughts on slow marketing I realized something. When you market to the people you see everyday and have to live with long term, the principles you stated make so much sense. The marketing that most of us are used to is what happens when people are not connected, not in community. The person selling doesn’t have to look you in the eye next week so they can get away with hollow promises and hard sells.

  • amen.

  • Rodolfo

    This is exactly what I needed to hear at this moment in time. Thank you!!

  • So glad to hear Rodolfo.