“All the successful people do it this way.”
Recently I’ve spoken to several who have spent around $50,000 USD on business/marketing coaching or trainings… and often because they didn't realize those marketers are selling to their trauma.
Sadly, much of the persuasion psychology being used (and taught) in marketing – the stoking of fear, uncertainty, doubt (FUD) – “works” on people with traumatic backgrounds…
I’m not an expert in trauma and its healing, but some of you are. I welcome your comments below – if you want to share your insights on how marketing is being used to take advantage of people’s trauma backgrounds, to make more sales, and how we can instead do marketing with more awareness and compassion.
One sample type of marketing message:
"If you don't do it my way, you'll never succeed. This is the only way. This is how all the successful people do it."
When it’s a persuasive and charismatic person saying this to you, especially if you’ve followed their content for a while, or have heard good things about them, you might start to believe them.
Since they apparently have The Truth, you really have no other sane choice except to buy their thing, or otherwise, you’d be missing out on the truly effective path, right?
Here’s a message I received today about this dynamic:
“There is a person I follow on LinkedIn and receive his emails. I like his take on life and his unconventional approach to work. Today I got an email about a new course (copywriting) he is offering and in the newsletter was a link to the course landing page. It was the typical thing/trend where it’s a long page of ‘don’t miss out’ and ‘be like these people who have signed up’, and ‘if you don’t sign up you are not respecting yourself’ – the sales approach of making the client/customer feel less than if they don’t buy/sign up. I went from respecting the guy, to feeling a sense of inauthenticity. His whole approach is that persuasive copy is the only way to get sales and if you don’t use it, you won’t make money and you’re doomed to fail. I don’t want to emulate that kind of tacky, lengthy, ‘don’t miss out’ landing pages that I feel try to guilt people into buying…” – a reader of my blog.
What I’ve come to believe, after 13 years of interacting with thousands of coaches, consultants, and “experts”, is that when someone insists to their followers that “This is the only way”, they’ve become desperate (profoundly uncreative) and they’re marketing to what they believe to be a desperate audience.
Instead, what I’ve noticed is that success can usually be achieved via different pathways, no matter what area of life we’re talking about. Creativity always finds new solutions. You have that creativity within you.
To really be effective and fulfilled, you must discover your own unique way of doing things. This is why many high-ticket coaches get desperate. They want to make money, and don’t want you to think for yourself, so they have to use the message of “my way is the best/only way.”
Often, you’ll discover that following their way doesn’t feel right to your heart. Why would it? It was always their way… not yours.
It breaks my heart to see good people waste their life savings, and also do things they later see were actually inauthentic or disconnected to their deep values.
But because they’ve invested so much in the guru’s advice, they might experience the sunk cost fallacy. "The teacher must know better than me... otherwise, they couldn’t charge so much money. I should’ve succeeded like them by now."
I'll share what I've seen from over a decade of business coaching and being around many people who look successful on the outside:
Many aren't as financially stable (or happy with their work) as they appear in their marketing. But they have to keep putting up a front, because they’ve got a big “brand” and reputation to keep up, and perhaps, a team they need to support, or debts that have piled up.
True success that is financially stable, connected to well-being, and deeply fulfilling, is remarkably rare, and usually not modeled by the most persuasive marketers.
I’ve been there. In the first 5 years, my business “looked” impressive, but I often felt more attached to the money-making than to genuine, well-balanced service. Even though I was already making a good amount, I was often on the verge of burnout. Worse, I was using marketing strategies that didn’t align well to my conscience, but I didn’t know what else to do.
Since that time, I’ve gradually, year by year, found a more holistic success that prioritizes joyful productivity and well-being, and doing authentic marketing that actually feels good to my heart, and seems to be good for the world as well.
The commitment to authenticity means to be stubborn that there is a right way for you but it must come from your own making. Sure, you can borrow from others’ teachings, but never put them on a pedestal that their formula must be the correct way.
The truly “right” way is found from your unique integration of various teachings and experiences.
Then you can go and also teach others, and encourage them to integrate and find their own aligned path.
To follow on from the reader’s quote above, this is what they continued in their message:
“Your posts and approach really resonate with me – being authentic and caring for and being committed to your audience is the approach I want to take with my business – and with all the noise out there I often think of you and am reminded that while everyone is doing it the slimy way, there is another approach that is meaningful and authentic.”
My heartfelt gratitude to this reader, and to all of my readers! Thank you for your kind attention and support over the years.