Thinking for ourselves

AKA a vaccine against weaponized marketing

When someone (a marketer, to be specific) tells you they “know exactly what to do in these unprecedented times,” you know, to grow your business, to increase cash flow, whatever…

… pause…

… think…

and self-correct.

The twinge you get is your instinct telling you those are weird things to say.

There’s something not quite right here. It’s a good moment to think a little deeper, versus falling into the trance of persuasive language. (Hey persuasive language is great, and being in a trance can be incredibly wonderful, but let’s pick when we enjoy these things, and do it consciously.)

“These are unprecedented times. I’ll show you how to make money in them.” (If they’re so unprecedented, how do you know how to make money in them?)

“Things are chaotic and everyone’s adjusting to a new reality – you definitely need to buy my course right now before midnight.” (What makes your course a match for the new reality – when did you make it?)

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, or for how long. Best thing to do is to optin for my free thing.” (A lot of these add up to a LOT of new things >> infocrap party*” *information products pileup party – even if the info is good, which it likely is, it becomes crap if you don’t have bandwidth for it — just like good food goes bad in the fridge if we haven’t made a plan for consuming it.)

The thing is… I’m not anti-promotion, nor am I anti ‘doing business’ not even a little, not now, not in a recession, not ever. The thing I am a stand against is dishonesty and lack of transparency.

A reminder…

Among other things, marketing is the art of making things sound as attractive as they can in order to add value to the world and receive dollars in return.

Weaponized marketing is the art of making things sound as attractive as they possibly possibly can, stretching the line of honestly up to and sometimes beyond the breaking point so that as many people as possible buy it.

“Well, it’s true that people make 10X the amount of money in my course, sometimes. That makes it okay to say that every time I market my course then.”

“Here are 10 extra gifts when you buy my X because every single one of these will help you.”

Sigh. I thought I would add some more examples but thinking about them made me tired.

Here’s my summary statement:

1. Nothing is ever true all of the time. Nothing. (Don’t believe anyone who tries to persuade you of that.)

2. When considering investing in things now, ask, is it the right time to invest, do you have enough of what you need to go without investing. Anne will have things to add about this so I’ll stop there. (PS relationships are the best investment right now, in my book)

3. When encountering marketing of any kind, particularly the “new” Wild West kind happening again now online – ask, Cui Bono – who benefits? And look for providers to be transparent about how THEY benefit if you choose to invest with them.

There’s a big difference between the above statements and…

“These are really uncertain times and no one knows what to do. I’m in the same boat, but I have some ideas that may help and it would be really lovely to get to work with you a little or a lot because I’m trying to keep my business running/create a good life here too! Would you like to explore if this is the right time to pursue that?” (PS you can substitute ‘uncertain times’ with anytime.)

It’s okay to be open about earning money because you have financial commitments. That’s honest, and by that I mean first chakra honest like the garbage collector who still now collects our garbage because they need and want to fulfill their financial responsibilities! Honest like the person singing their heart out on the street with a hat out six feet away, singing because they want to bring forth their beauty in the world in exchange for the necessities in life. We too can be THAT honest.

Instead of asking how good can my marketing be so that every possible person buys it…

Let’s ask… how honest can I be, AND do enough good marketing for the reasonable life I choose. (More on ‘enough’ another time.)

Honestly :p I thought that dishonesty in online marketing had somehow spent its course or at least been someone tamed – but of course it hasn’t. No one is doing anything to be intentionally predatory or malicious, and I greatly doubt that anyone will change how they do things much, though of course I can hope, and I can write.

Nope – it’s up to us in our role as conscious citizens to ask… how will I use my resources? Is spending money what will serve me most/best right now?

At the grocery store, will I spend dollars on something that uses plastic?

In online spaces, will I spend my dollars on something that says it knows exactly what to do in a pandemic? If I do, am I checking myself, and investing knowing that can’t possibly be true?

Who will I trust? Do I need more information?

One final time…a slightly different way…

Nothing is ever true all of the time. So go forth, buy the thing with open eyes and enjoy, use it fully! Say yes to the new optins, with a plan to not feel bad when they collect dust, or lose confidence if you don’t act on them. Notice how much more FB advertising is going on and celebrate thinking for yourself – “ads must be cheap right now” (they are.)

As for me, I find myself fatigued but urgent about this – hoping we can access a greater state of awakeness about this buzzy moment of ‘hey the e-commerce machine is still running, everybody!!’ Heck, after 3 years of grad school and a downsized business, I’m definitely looking at how I’ll meet my ‘enough’ financial goals in a creative, honest way. And I’m deeply grateful for awake clients to work with who help me know that I am needed.

In all of this, I’m leaning on my petulant inner child when I see the proliferating ads and increasingly direct come-ons in my inbox:

“Yeah you make it sound good but nyah nyah you can’t make me want something I don’t already want.”

“Yes, I have FOMO (fear of missing out) except I have it in the opposite direction from most. I have a great fear of missing out on my honest, transparent, ethical life… the one that’s for me. However things settle out over the next weeks and months, it is going to turn out okay. Now pass the potato chips.”


Image Credit: Photo by Felix Koutchinski on Unsplash