Why Marketing Sucks! (and how it doesn’t have to)


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If you feel overwhelmed with or have resistance to marketing, even though you know you can help people, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you… it’s because there’s something wrong with the mainstream approach to marketing.

This is because mainstream marketing tactics go against the core values and missions of entrepreneurs who are channeling a new paradigm of kinship and connection through their businesses.

This misalignment isn’t about the medium (FB, IG, Ads, organic, etc.), but rather about the underlying model of marketing.

The mainstream marketing model sees through a lens of domination where a customer is something to win* through conquest.

Marketing then becomes about beating out other businesses and sometimes even the customer’s own sensibilities about what they really want or need, in order to get the sale.

We’ll call this domination marketing.

In domination marketing a business owner may believe they have a duty to help their customer by doing everything in their power to get them to make a purchase, even if this involves manipulative or harmful tactics like:

  • Pressuring the customer to buy through fear mongering – like making them think about how horrible their life could be if they don’t take action now, even if that horrible scenario is highly unlikely to occur.
  • Relying on charisma and popularity to sell, as customers buy products not because they’re well informed and able to discern whether it’s going to help them, but rather because they’re fawning and they’ll do anything to emulate or be approved by whomever is selling the product. 
  • Making claims that their product is the only thing that will help them avoid pain and failure, so that the customer feels like they have no choice but to buy this product or else be doomed. 
  • Relying on quickly escalating price increases to make a sale, pressuring people to buy out of fear of not being able to afford it later, even if it’s not really what will best help them.** 

These tactics are manipulative and harmful because they’re getting people to act primarily from a sense of fear, not from an empowered sense of informed consent and sovereign agency.

This is like religious missionaries who believe they are helping people avoid eternal damnation by converting them.

Missionaries scare converts into “buying” the new religion with stories of eternal damnation in a fiery hell if they don’t adopt their religious doctrine. If that doesn’t work, they force them to adopt the new religion or be killed… fun.

While domination marketing isn’t literally killing people, it does activate, intensify, and perpetuate fear in people (though I would argue domination marketing contributes to a literal drawn-out killing of people and planet, but that’s for another day).

The fear that gets activated goes beyond scary thoughts and worries.

It activates processes in our bodies that actually make us sick and keep us from healing, resting, and feeling alive and well.

This is not what business owners who are channeling a new paradigm of kinship and connection want to perpetuate through their work, am I right?

And yet they don’t know what to do differently, so they don’t do anything or they try so many things that they wear themselves out, all while feeling caught between wanting to help others through their offers and not wanting to harm others through manipulative marketing.

An alternative approach is to use a different model than domination and instead approach marketing through a relational lens.

In relational marketing, rather than being a conqueror, you become a helpful guide.

If you just took a sigh of relief, I invite you to notice that sensation of relief for a moment, savor it for a few breaths!

Marketing becomes about getting your offers out there, so your guidance and support can change lives in a way that’s aligned with the ultimate impact you’re intending through your business.

While domination marketing can trick itself into thinking that manipulation tactics are in the name of impact, there’s one key thing that differentiates domination from relational marketing: 

Whether you’re pressuring people into selling through fear tactics vs helping people feel safe and supported in your marketing.

In domination marketing a customer’s sense of fear is intentionally amplified so they’ll buy the thing to resolve the fear as soon as possible out of desperation, hyped hope, or fear, and the only path they’re shown to easing their pain or solving their problem is to buy the thing.

In relational marketing a customer’s fears and pain are acknowledged and validated.

Then you, as the guide, begin to show them specifically how you can help them resolve the pain by talking about the process steps you’ll lead them through to go from problem to solution.

Learning about your process steps gives them an immediate sense of relief, and their fear turns to substantiated hope.

While they haven’t actually walked the steps to solve their problem, they’re now able to envision a future where their pain is eased and their problem is resolved.

Domination marketing paints pictures of future doom, while relational marketing paints pictures of substantiated possibility and hope, grounded in informed consent about what it will take to bring that future into form.

This in itself is healing. This is alchemical!

What happens in the body, then, is instead of perpetuating fear that spirals into a host of other issues, a customer’s fear begins to turn to a sense of safety. 

This sense of safety activates an entirely different state of being in their body that supports cellular repair, restorative processes, a sense of ease, and so much more.

That’s what we want to perpetuate in our businesses, right?!

When talking about your process steps, you don’t have to give them a specific “how to” step-by-step to get from problem to solution that they could enact on their own without your help, but you can if you want. 

It’s more about the broad strokes of how you help them, and why those broad strokes matter for reaching the overall outcome.

When you have your process articulated, you can then reverse engineer your marketing materials to talk about specific problems your customers have that each of your process steps helps to solve.

Having your process articulated essentially becomes a marketing compass, pointing you in the direction of painting pictures of possibility and supporting customers in feeling safe doing business with you, while also consenting to the journey they’ll take with you as their guide.

If you’re worried that people will feel so much relief that they don’t buy, I can assure you, they will. The real pressure and urgency they feel around their problems are enough to motivate them into action when they find the solution that resonates for them. You don’t need to make their pain or urgency worse to motivate them into action.

I hope you’re feeling enlivened with a sense that marketing doesn’t have to suck. Perhaps you’re even inspired by the possibility that marketing can be one vessel through which you channel your overall mission into form!

If you’d like support in articulating your process, this is part of what I help entrepreneurs who are channeling a new paradigm of kinship and connection through their businesses to do in my 1:1 marketing consulting journey.

One of the very first things we do is clarify an offer, and in this we’ll identify your process steps that help your customers go from point A (problem) to point B (solution).

One of my clients, Candice Elliott, helps businesses implement human resource (HR) practices that actually support employees’ needs, instead of treating employees like disposable resources to extract maximum profit from before they quit.

This helps companies attract and retain top talent, as well as save tons of money from not having to fight as many lawsuits or fill roles of people who quit because their workplace sucked.

Candice’s processes are very detailed, as setting up an HR system has high legal stakes and overall impact on many people’s wellbeing! 

When we outlined her process we split it into two ways of talking about it:

1. Overall values that she works from to create HR systems that don’t suck the life out of employees, and how each offer is guided by these values

2. Specific detailed processes that demonstrate she really knows what she’s doing and will deliver high quality, effective final products

Through the way we talked about her processes, we painted pictures of new paradigm futures that are exciting to her ideal clients and we outlined valid, tangible ways that she’ll help them enact these visions.

She is now able to more confidently approach companies she can help, talk about why her approach to HR is different, and present tangible evidence of how she’ll help them thrive as companies through supporting their most important resource: employees.

Her marketing has become a vessel for what she’s channeling into the world, as she creates more equality, sustainability, and community through the work she does in every aspect of her business, while getting paid well to do it!

If you have a proven product (meaning you’ve actually sold and successfully delivered it to at least a handful of dream customers/clients), and you’re ready to amplify your marketing impact and efforts, or if you know you can help more people, but you don’t know how to talk about what you do, then you’re invited to my 10-week 1:1 marketing consulting experience. 

Amongst many things, we’ll identify and articulate the process you take people through to get from problem to solution. This supports customers to buy from a place of safety and possibility, rather than pain, and it also helps you, the entrepreneur, to feel motivated to market your offers instead of feeling blocked and out of integrity! You’ll be able to craft compelling offers and implement trauma-informed marketing for any product or service you want to sell now and in the future.

We’ll also uncover your unique approach to marketing that lights you up and works, so you don’t have to force yourself to market via a method or medium you don’t enjoy. We will explore what’s worked for you in the past, what you don’t love doing, and what your natural communication and connection gifts are. Then we’ll create an empowering plan that you’ll actually enjoy.

And one of my favorite parts is that we’ll work with Somatic Experiencing to start healing your nervous system in places you carry unconscious blocks around marketing, so you’re not retraumatizing yourself or your customers when you’re marketing and selling. This will also help you disconnect your self-worth from how your marketing performs.

I only have two more spaces left for the rest of 2022!

Learn more and apply at www.natalie.net/consulting 


*Winning isn’t inherently “bad” or dominating. –> depends on what you’re winning against. Others? Your own best abilities or edge of capacity?

**This kind of pressure can sometimes help people get off the fence and take action. What makes it manipulative is when it’s quickly escalating beyond a person’s ability to make a choice about whether the product will really help them and their ability to discern whether price is the main factor keeping them from investing.

You can choose which types of messages you receive from me by clicking “Update Your Preferences” at the bottom of this email!

🏡 Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house just so I can come home.

🌀 I was really inspired by this quote by Ira Glass this week:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap.

For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.

Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this.

And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile.” – Ira Glass







Invitation to work with me:

I have two spaces for the rest of 2022 for 1:1 messaging coaching where I’ll help you learn how to talk about what you do and convey the value of what you offer without sacrificing who you truly are. This is best for folks who already have a proven offer they’re ready to amplify. Apply on my website, and we’ll chat to see if this offer is a good fit for your needs!

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