Towards the end of 2019, I decided that it was time to cut the cords with mainstream marketing.
These are my reflections on becoming marketing free and the lessons I have learnt.
I have never taken a conventional approach but mainstream approaches have an extraordinary ability to worm their way into our thinking and actions. I definitely felt the need for a deep spring clean.
Initially, going this involved a really deep look at the strategies and tactics that felt off for me and consciously exploring my motivations for not having ever employed them in my business.
This in itself was enlightening. I had unconsciously trusted my intuition in not using them but never consciously and intentionally explored why. Two things became apparent. The first was that despite choosing not to use some of these tactics, the thinking behind them was still present in my business, which was impacting the energetics. The second was that it was not the obvious issues that bothered me but the underlying issues.
On the face of it, marketing is about connecting with people. It’s storytelling and sharing, it’s expressing yourself and your values and inviting others to step into your world. What could be wrong with that? I can totally buy into that.
But that isn’t what is really going on in the world of marketing.
Underneath, the way we use marketing is both consciously and surreptitiously manipulating our thoughts and actions to the point that individual choice is seriously eroded.
The use of deep psychology to press people’s buttons and make them feel less than they are in order to drive them to take action turns people into numbers. At its worst, it creates real harm. At its best it derails people and removes their ability to be true to themselves. And while many may say and believe that no one can make anyone do anything they don’t want to, those who know how powerful psychology is know different. Our culture, our politics, our consumer habits, our relationship with the earth, our understanding of ourselves have been directly driven and controlled by marketing. Our society is marketing based.
Individual sovereignty has been removed from our society.
We have become trapped in a limited world where our emotions and our thoughts cannot exceed the narrow confines laid out for them.
I’m very much relieved to say that the world is waking up. This year more and more people around me have consciously disconnected from this paradigm and have chosen to explore different paths.
This is exactly what we need. Business can change the world by changing how it behaves. For entrepreneurs, we can lead the charge without a doubt. If change starts with business and our community values, it will filter out to politics and the media and the change will snowball. We change the world by how we think and behave. And by how we lead.
After spending a few months exploring these issues, I felt a very distinct and immediate sea change.
I was no longer interested in looking at what has been our model and why I didn’t like it. I knew that people were looking for a way out and I wanted to shift my focus onto what to create instead.
Or to be precise, what I had been creating all along that had been masked by the thinking I had rooted out.
Removing the traces of mainstream thinking really brought my focus onto my values. From here I was able to see how I could design my own business to enact my values in every single action, connection and system.
The deep spring clean created space to see the wood for the trees. I saw my work with energetics in a much clearer way and, most crucially, let go of any pressure to frame it in a way that people would understand. Trying to control how it was received and understood was, it turns out, the very thing that was stopping people from understanding and connecting to it properly. The path of transition from logical to intuitive business is strewn with irony.
I found peace in the knowing that energy speaks and can do the work of “marketing” without any of the pressure or bells and whistles we have created. Trying to reach people and get them to act has become harder and harder the more complicated we have made it. The returns have got smaller, the work more intense. Expectations soared as satisfaction plummeted. To finally allow myself to really see that an energetic connection is simple, honest, transparent and instantly effective meant I could lose any last remnants of anxiety about my approach.
This created more space to receive more insight and to create in harmony with the energy of my business. I found my voice became clearer, my creations flowed and, perhaps most importantly, my connections deepened.
Over the last year, a lot has changed.
I continued to post every day on social media, purely because I wanted to. There was so much that needed to be said. I had no real agenda behind it. If it related to an opportunity, I mentioned it but it was always low key. I found a new level of ease with the idea of selling because I knew I was inviting people to make choices for themselves.
I have switched off every “funnel” I had in place. I made most of my content instantly and freely accessible. This simple act of granting people freedom of choice without time pressures was extraordinarily liberating for me and meant I felt empowered to offer as much or as little as felt right in the moment.
Whilst my community hasn’t grown particularly in the last year, what has changed is the depth of connection that has happened with those who have come in or remained and the ease with which I have celebrated others leaving.
This year has, unquestionably, been my most fulfilling to date. And that is despite 6 months of home schooling and constant disruption around me. A year ago the mere prospect would have sent me into meltdown. Instead I have learnt how not to get caught up in anxiety about productivity and focus on creativity (in how I work and what I do). I have celebrated seeing myself and what I am creating in a new light and becoming bold enough to go there with confidence.
What does a marketing free business look like?
There are a few lessons from this year that have also held true for clients who have joined me on the journey. If you are considering ditching the mainstream and striking out on your own adventure, here are some thoughts to take with you.
1 Forget about Numbers
The numbers game is a rabbit hole to self-doubt and self-punishment. It really doesn’t matter how many 000’s you are making or how many people read your last post. What matters is the depth of your connection and the energetic return. You will know it when you feel it.
2 Ditch the Expectations
Expectations are shackles. How you behave and what you do is no one’s business. It’s your business. Yours. There is so much chatter in and around you about what you should be doing or who is doing what, what is working, what isn’t … that it drowns out the creative nudges you are always receiving. Find what feels good to you. Create that. Do that. Trust that.
3 Be Present
The energy of your creative expression – through and with your business – does way more than any quick win, big bang tactic ever will. And it will create sustainable results. Feeling the energy and holding it within the design and expression of your business touches people. It activates them and draws them to you. Natural, organic client attraction happens when you are present in this energy.
4 Create with Energy
Life is creation in action. Business is creation in action. Be a creator and the opportunities to connect, communicate, inspire and transform will arise. Choose to be creative, to play, to experiment and enjoy the process of expression. Creating in this energy draws the actions and response into your awareness that will bring it to full potential.
5 Do Less to Do More
You do not need to be everything to everyone. You don’t need to be everywhere. Nor do you need to be there all the time. Choose where feels right, be there when it feels right. Consistency is about the energy you bring not the hours, minutes and seconds you dedicate.
6 Be True to Your Rhythm
Create when you feel it, not when you “should”. Connect when it is calling you, not because you feel obliged. Resource yourself so you can be fully yourself and present. There is a natural cycle at play and following it will liberate you to create more and be more present.
7 Strategy and Planning Still Rock
Letting go of all that defines mainstream marketing is not a ticket to passively floating around without any sense of direction. Strategy is vital. Plans are essential. These are what allow energy to flow. There is no need for plans to be tools you use to beat yourself up for your failings. Don’t over engineer them; leave space for inspiration and response. Just keep them dynamic and flexible so that they focus your attention.
8 Energy is Everything
You are dealing in energy. You extend energy, you receive energy. Business is energy. Pay attention to it, feel it and respond to it. It will guide you to the choices that are right for your business. Every. Single. Time.
9 Come Back to You
Clarity on how you work and who you work with begins with you. When you create what you are here to create, the whole concept of niching and market segments becomes unnecessary. Focus on your soul creation and the rest will fall into place with a level of insight that you would never, ever achieve otherwise.
10 You Know Best
There is no expert out there who knows your business the way you do. No one who can tell you what feels right for you. You are the expert. Trust yourself.
If the world were not moving on anyway, I still wouldn't return to the way things were. This new way of growing my business has turned out to be fun.
Self-doubt has diminished and my inner critic has been unusually quiet in the last part of this year.
I’ve shed, dissolved, released and generally unburdened myself and my business.
I’m focused on my thing and doing it my way. My attention is on my creation and no more. I am not distracted by what others are doing, I’m not even interested anymore; which means I have more energy to give to my business and to myself.
I create what is attuned to the energy, whether it has been done before or not isn’t relevant. If it’s right, it’s right. And not only does this feel awesome, it flows. It actually flows. Blocks and frustration have evaporated. Energy drains have disappeared. When I create, I create. I know that it will connect with people and I am actively motivated to share, speak and be present without any sense of obligation. Consciously choosing to create a different journey has changed everything.
Which was the point all along, but I didn’t know it would feel this good.