To Market or Not to Market: That Is the Question

When one discovers the spiritual dimension of life, an inevitable reassessment of values follows. The person begins looking at his or her life through a completely different set of lenses and that usually causes changes in many areas: relationships – family, friends, romantic partners…; lifestyle – eating and drinking habits, exercise, recreational activities, hobbies…; and career. As part of their spiritual awakening, many people choose to leave their office jobs and start working for themselves.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been watching numerous friends and acquaintances discover their unique talents, acknowledge their heart longings and respond to their soul callings. Quite a few of them have already launched their own businesses; others are either in the process of it or are considering it.

Anyone who becomes an entrepreneur sooner or later faces the marketing dilemma: “Should I advertise my products/services or not, and if yes, then how?”

The Internet is flooded with all sorts of advice on this subject – hundreds of articles, videos, courses and even schools teaching how to create clients, sell one’s products, start a blog, write a book, get published on the Huffington Post…

From the few resources that I’ve seen, it looks like all the flashy or boring, sophisticated or primitive, visual and interactive or text-only sources of information can be boiled down to just two simple choices:

  • Listen to others.

OR

  • Listen to yourself.

Most of the resources I’ve come across fall into the first category. Entrepreneurs are being advised to “do their homework,” know their market, study their audience, research their followers’ opinions, wants and needs, and to offer them the product or service that satisfies the existing demand.

For example, if you are a blogger, you are told to look at other people’s blogs and notice what is popular – what topics get the most attention, the most comments, the most engagement… – and write about those topics.

You are also advised to copy the format in which popular articles are written. For instance, I’ve read about one lady who was dreaming of being published on the Huffington Post, so she spent hundreds of hours not only reading the articles and noticing the kind of submissions that get published, but also analyzing their style.

She says that she had meticulously copied the site’s articles into a Word document, counted the number of words, noticed how everything was divided into paragraphs, and even copied the title sentence structure for her own post. She is now a published Huffington Post writer…

With this approach, the attention is being placed entirely outside of the creator; all the focus is on the other people, on the potential employers, customers and clients, and external factors dictate everything: the content, the delivery method, the product release time… In brief, the entrepreneurs’ job is to make pleasing others their ultimate goal.

This strategy is being sold as a quick, easy and efficient way “to make it,” and there seem to be quite a few examples that prove its ability to deliver results.

Personally, I don’t like it because it looks like you are being called to completely forget about yourself – who you are, what you want to do and how you want to do it, – and focus your utter attention on others, trying to guess what might interest them and then try selling it to them.

The reason for leaving the office job for many people is that they want to express themselves their own way; they don’t want to be told what and how to do. If they then find themselves in a situation in which others dictate what, when and how is being created, then what was the point in leaving the office job in the first place?

The second approach seems to be much less popular and advocated only by spiritual teachers.

Because in the spiritual world the source and cause of everything is believed to be inside of you, the recommendation here is the opposite of what everyone else promotes: the first and foremost thing is to stop listening to everyone else and to start listening to yourself. The self-employed person is advised to get very quiet, to connect with his or her own heart, to listen carefully, attentively and lovingly and once clear on the message, take inspired action to implement it.

This path shifts all the focus away from other people and onto the entrepreneur, who is encouraged to do what is joyful, what feels right, what is true to his or her heart, even if it is met with complete and total misunderstanding, criticism or rejection of others. This is certainly very different to the first approach, where every step must be well planned out and have other people’s opinions as the only deciding factor.

This is a much longer, more winding, less glamorous and more lonely road, and it requires lots of faith and trust that all one needs to do is just to be himself or herself and do what feels right; faith that things will work out, opportunities will appear, the right people will find him or her, and in Joseph Campbell’s words, “The universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”

This inside-out, heart-led approach appeals to me much more than the first, mind-led one, but I can see how frustrating it can be waiting for everything to fall into place.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Which road are you choosing or would you choose for yourself and your own business? How are you or would you solve this dilemma? What is your marketing plan for 2016?

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