Dear Heart-Based Entrepreneur,
These equations symbolize my aim (and continual challenge) in business... do you resonate? If so, I encourage you to comment below. Let's support one another in bringing more Wisdom to Entrepreneurship...
CONSCIENCE > MONEY:
So much economic injustice, and environmental degradation, happens in large part when money is prioritized over conscience. It is especially clear in politics: the influence of money controls politicians, regardless of public conscience.
This distortion is also rampant in my industry. In the internet marketing training/coaching world, we are entrained to think always about ROI, monetizing our audience, and to "never leave money on the table"...
As a result, manipulating one's audience has become normal and accepted. We are taught to use whatever marketing tactics is needed to get people to buy more, and pay more...
We are supposed to "leverage our time" for always more income. The dream that is continually sold to us is to "make money while we sleep."
Often, it is masked as "adding more value". But is it really? I've met too many people whose finances have been devastated by the "six figure" (and "seven figure") coaches.
It seems to me that their programs have extracted more value, than they've added.
Truth is: I had been part of that industry.
For the past 4 years, my conscience has been calling me to transform away from money-focus to paying more attention to how I can apply my higher values in business.
In the past 2 years, I've even felt called me to give away all of my content. The stuff I used to sell, and make a comfortable 6-figure income, I now give freely.
The results of my experiment...
I wanted to share with you the results of my 2-year experiment in putting my content out to the creative commons:
* At this time, I am making less money than before. I am trading time for dollars (a taboo idea!), earning most of my income through 1-1 coaching. I'm fine with this. I know that my income will rise over the next few years, as I become ever more proficient with my coaching, and as word spreads about my new Authentic Business Community (just launched.)
* More than before, I am gathering true fans, who are more like kindred spirits. On the other hand, when I was charging big dollars for my content, it gave the illusion that my content was important. That I was more important than others. If it is expensive, it must be better, right? Back then, I had "followers" (like a guru), compared to what I have now: fans who feel like heart-siblings, on the same level of worth... I am more human.
* I'm no longer anxious that I might get refund requests... that maybe I'm actually swindling people. (This sounds surprising, but many 6-figure gurus secretly feel this way...)
* I am more approachable now. Yet, the imaginary inundation hasn't happened... I haven't gotten tons of requests to "pick my brain for free." That fear didn't pan out.
* As a result of my mindset/heartset shift to giving, I've become a lot more prolific. I've uploaded more than 200 videos to my Facebook Page over the past 2 years alone. I now think of my content as a service to the public, as my legacy.
* Interestingly, my free content is actually better now than what I was selling before. The reason is that my content is now "competing" in the marketplace of Free -- which is a lot more challenging -- therefore stretching my abilities, knowledge, and productivity. Free content is transparent. And, since it's free, people don't value it unless the content is actually good.
Paid content can have these deceptive effects: (1) because it has a price attached to it, there is the illusion that it is better... (2) a natural, human bias makes us believe it's better (we paid for it, so it better be!) when it's sometimes not as good as the best free stuff you can find on Google. (3) There is a huge lack of transparency about the real quality of paid info-products. This is how many "gurus" (including my past self) got away with selling so much crap.
NOTE: I'm not saying no one should sell paid content... the fact is that I still encourage some of my clients to do it successfully, if aligned with their goals & values.
However, we need to be more mindful of how we market it, not using hyped-up testimonials that are contrary to the typical experience of our buyers.
* Now that I am giving freely, my heart feels full... to overflowing... and isn't that what matters most? <3
COMMUNITY > MARKETING:
Too much of marketing has been about hypnotizing people into buying...
* Great branding hypnotizes audiences. The problem is that great branding often hides a shoddy product or service. This is especially true in my industry of internet marketing.
* Repetition of a message hypnotizes audiences into believing. If you see something again and again, it becomes a "normal to have"... This is why companies pay for you see the same ads again and again.
* Marketing & sales copywriting often "compels" audiences into action. Sales emails and webpage copy often use scarcity and hyped-up (unrealistic) promises to trigger our reptilian brain. We salivate (sometimes literally) and our emotions take over the buying process. This is the compromised state that many marketers want to get us into.
What concerns me is that so many of my peers (trainers/coaches of marketing) do not question the morality of the above tactics.
They do whatever "works." And by that, they mean whatever makes money now.
Because this kind of myopic marketing is so rampant and all around us, we heart-based entrepreneurs start to believe that we must act in that way to grow our business.
The solution to myopic marketing...
I am here to tell you that we can be much more authentic, and still earn a true livelihood. I am living proof of that, as are my clients.
If you are ever taught a marketing trick that doesn't feel right to you, but everyone else seems to be doing it, please take a pause.
Come back to the remembrance of Who You Truly Are.
Return to the power of your Purpose.
Envision your ideal audience who really need your message and offerings.
Then from that place of service and authenticity, do your marketing.
From Marketing to Community...
We can shift our perspective from the market for our services to a community that we serve. (Thanks to Stephen Dynako for that framing.)
Instead of hypnotizing our audience, and using cynical marketing tactics, we can build a kindred-spirit community.
And from that community, word-of-mouth spreads organically.
For example, you can build a community through providing quality, free content.
When your audience benefits from your sustainable generosity, they naturally reciprocate in one of these ways...
(1) with the continued gift of their attention.
Marketers become so callous, taking for granted their audience's attention. In our world of exploding media, every person's attention is increasingly scarce.
If someone is giving us their attention -- reading our post, viewing our video, visiting our website -- they are giving us the new currency.
They are literally "paying" attention. Let's receive it in our hearts with gratitude.
(2) with social media "likes" or comments.
Nowadays, this is the easiest way to give back.
Some entrepreneurs only post their own content, and spend little time "giving back" by "liking" and commenting on other people's stuff.
May we be more conscious to give others the stage, rather than always vying to grab our own attention.
(Some of you already do this quite well!)
(3) with sharing the content forward.
This is truly a form of "payment" in our new economy.
Sharing is an endorsement of our content. It "earns" us more attention. The sharer's audience now gets the opportunity to pay us their attention, and in return, receive the benefit of our content.
Sharing starts the virtuous cycle of benefits, from the top of this list.
(4) with financial support.
For our tribe members that are able to, they go further. They financially support us by purchasing our services/products. As audience members are inundated now with purchasing options, be truly grateful that they chose you.
True Community is a viable model of livelihood.
But it requires giving lasting value to our audience, rather than hypnotized/perceived value.
"Giving is the new receiving, but only when given from the heart." ~Debby Emeny
It is not only increasingly possible for us to shift in these important ways -- from obsession with money/marketing to a deep reconnection with conscience/community -- it is what our souls are calling us to do, at this time.
We are being called to do authentic marketing.
May this post inspire you to progress in your own true livelihood, and build more supportive relationships with your tribe.
I look forward to your thoughts, from your heart! <3
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George Kao is a Marketing Coach for Counselors, Coaches, Speakers, and Authors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.