This is a different sort of blog than I usually write because it’s not just about marketing. It’s about the context that marketing happens inside of.
Namely, the economy.
Of course, most of us have some very justifiable issues with marketing. Some of us wonder if even the whole ‘conscious marketing’ thing is bullshit.
But those issues are driven by something so much larger.
We live inside of an economy that David Korten coined as ‘The Suicide Economy’. For obvious reasons. If we let it, it will kill itself (and take a lot down with it as it goes).
It’s an economy and culture that has led much of humanity to a point of a secret sort of self loathing. The sense that made, as William Gibson put it, ‘man is a bad animal’. Stephen Jenkinson illucidates on this brilliantly in the following video by Ian Mackenzie.
As David Orr so brilliantly put it, “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”
And most of us are fighting tooth and nail to create something more sane. Something more in alignment with what Judy Wicks of Phillidelphia’s White Dog Cafe expressed so beautifully when she said,
- “The Local Living Economies Movement is about: Maximizing relationships, not maximizing profits, Broad-based ownership and democracy, not concentrated wealth and power, Sharing, not hoarding, Life serving, not self-serving, Partnership, not domination, Cooperation based, not competition based, Win-win exchange, not win-loose exploitation, Creativity, not conformity, A living return, not the highest return, A living wage, not the minimum wage, A fair price, not the lowest price, “Being more, not having more”, Interconnectedness, not separation, Inclusion, not exclusiveness, Community and collective joy, not isolation and unhapppiness, Cultural diversity, not monoculture, Bio-diversity, not mono-crops, Family farms, not factory farms, Slow food, not fast food, Our bucks, not Starbucks, Our mart, not Wal-Mart, a Love of life, not love of money.”
In a similar way. this quote from The Necessary Revolution (shared with me by my colleague Julia) struck as right on theme for this theme of figuring out the deeper cause our business is about. It invites us to step back and consider the underlying cause of business itself:
- “…the new generation of mission-based businesses builds on some very old ideas, ones that predate the Industrial Age. They seek, as an essential part of their purpose, to contribute to the health and well-being of living systems. They reject the notion that the sole purpose of business is to make a profit and they regard the quality of relationships between members, suppliers, and customers as the true indicator of success. In so doing, they are returning business to its origins. The oldest Swedish word for business is narings liv, “nourishment for life.” In ancient Chinese the concept is expressed by two symbols that translate as “life meaning.” And the root of the English word company derives from the Latin com panis, “the sharing of bread”- the same root as that for the word companion.”
Everywhere we look, we see the growth of this new Green Economy. But some of us wonder if it’s enough. Because, as it rises, so doesgreenwashing (in which corporations try to make normal things seem green instead of helping to make green things seem normal). But also because many of suspect that solar power and compact flourescent lightbulbs are not the complete solution we need. That we may need something more. Many of us are waking up to the reality that, even if we all did what Al Gore called for at the end of his powerful documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ it wouldn’t be anywhere near to enough.
Silently, some of us wonder to ourselves, ‘What if the Green Economy is a wonderful means, but a terrible ends?’
We see the Occupy Wallstreet movement and the new economy it’s calling on us to imagine.
David Korten invites us to go even deeper than critiquing the economy but to question the very stories that have, for so long, underpinned it. And he invites us to consider what the economy might look like if it were inspired by a different set of stories. What if we shifted our stories from those of building empires (which never end well) to building and sustaining villages? What if instead of growing big and selling we could be small and enjoy the beauty in that? What if endless economic growth was not the drum we marched to but that love and justice were the drums we danced to? What if there were models of creating change that didn’t all rely on money?
What if indeed.
So, what does this all have to do with marketing?
So much really.
The word marketing is full of such heavy connotations. But let’s say it in a different way.
We need to find a way to articulate the problems we face as a culture and the potential solutions with such a powerful eloquence and clarity that it awakens something in people.
If people don’t know about the alternatives you offer the world, they, functionally, don’t exist. And we need people to know they exist. Desperately. The solutions are out there (e.g. holistic medicine, permaculture, solar power, local economies and currencies, slow food etc.) but what good are they if no one knows? And people finding out about things is another way of saying marketing.
As Antoine de Saint Exupéry put it, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
And that’s marketing.
We need to educate people about what new things are possible that could be restorative to both the planet and ourselves. And that’s marketing.
We need to lift our rhetoric to a level of relevance and clarity than is unmistakable.
We need to get people’s attention, help them understand if our particular solution is a fit and then make it sweet, gentle and easy to try it (because we know asking them to change everything overnight will never work).
We need to find ways to not seduce people, but court them into living their fullest lives. Imagine if everyone in the world offering hopeful and positive solutions awoke tomorrow with this kind of irresistible eloquence that inspired the best that humanity has to offer. Imagine how many fewer people might find themselves on their deathbed full of regrets.
We don’t just need more conscious marketing. We need a whole new economy. We need to reimagine the culture we live in. But, to get there, we need to be better marketers.
Most of us get most of our money, directly or indirectly, from the Suicide Economy. We’d love to make all of our money from the more Conscious Economy and spend all of our money there… but most of us haven’t been able to do that. Most of us are, like this culture, in transition. Most of us are trying to make our little conscious venture financially sustainable.
And a mighty piece of whether or not we can pay the bills comes down to marketing.
If you’re needing more help with finding the eloquence to express what you do I’d like to remind you of somethings.
My website is full of free things. There’s over three hours of free video. Five hundred blog posts. Case studies.
I have a 195 ebook that you should have gotten when you signed up for this email list but, in case you’ve lost it, you can download it here.
If you feel drawn to work with me one on one, you can find more info about that here.
Thanks for being on my list. I hope you get good things from it.
p.s. I’ll be in touch soon about some breakthroughs I’ve been having around this whole question of finding your niche, plus a contest around niching I think you’ll love.
p.p.s. On March 11th, I was the witness to a man taking his life by jumping off of Edmonton’s High Level Bridge. It was a deeply traumatic event from which I’m still recovering but recovering well with the help of a lot of good friends and support. I wrote a song about it and was able to go to the funeral and sing it to the family. It would mean a lot to me if you could share it with others. Yu can find the song and the story here: http://www.miguelitoslittlegreencar.com/blog/paying-tribute-tad/