Mindful, Responsible Marketing In The Era Of Coronavirus
By Tyler McCune, guest contributor
The recent coronavirus pandemic has brought waves of change to every corner of our lives. Every corner of the globe, too. And even though this is an extremely difficult time for many, with stress, illness, death, and financial hardship taking their tolls, this period of self-isolation gives us an opportunity to reflect on how we live and act moving forward.
This is true in the mindfulness community. And this is true in the marketing community.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission — the government organization that protects consumers from illegal and unethical marketing practices — recently sent new guidelines to many of the leading health and supplement companies regarding “super-immunity” claims attached to some of their supplements.
Mandates like this can, in fact, save lives.
For most of us, our marketing isn’t a “life or death” situation. Still, as Mindful Leaders and ambassadors of the mindfulness community, it’s up to us role model mindful, responsible marketing. Especially in trying times such as these.
So the question becomes:
Should we stop our marketing efforts?
The truth: this is completely up to you. But if you want my advice, stopping your marketing won’t help anyone.
Because marketing, at its core, is about communicating. And what we need now more than ever is communication.
Communication, connection, and community.
So the next question might be:
Should we stop selling or products and services?
Again, this is entirely up to you, but I’m not stopping or slowing down.
I’m still sticking to my promotional calendar and following through on all the marketing outreach I had planned.
Part of it is because I still have bills to pay. And part of it is because I think following through on my commitments and schedules is a great ‘signal’ for others to do the same.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t alter our lives. I’m staying at home, washing my hands like crazy, stocking up on dog food just in case, and all that other jazz. But unless the world’s really ending, I’m not going to stop building my business.
Just like I’m not going to stop exercising or eating healthy or cleaning my room.
Another reason I won’t stop is out of a duty to my list. The people on my list joined to learn about marketing and copywriting, and I feel a duty to help them. Of course, I understand some of them may not be in the position to buy from me right now.
And that’s totally fine!
Because I still send interesting and useful information in my emails that will help them, without them spending a shiny gold cent (an important lesson for those paying attention).
But there will be some who are in the position to buy from me. And I really hope what I’m selling will benefit their lives, so that when all this craziness is over, they’ll be in a better position to run their business and secure freedom and happiness for themselves and others.
This is probably even more important for mindfulness teachers. If there’s one thing people need now, it’s an awareness practice. Don’t let them down.
That being said, it’s smart to take a slightly different tack. Because currently…
Morale is of the utmost importance.
From a leadership perspective, morale can often be the deciding factor. In fact, low morale can cause a high performing team to crumble and fall.
So it’s extremely important to keep the morale of your audience high.
I’m not saying to lie or tell them everything will be okay or anything like that. But what I am saying is that you should be a little, shining beacon of hope. If you can give them just a bit of optimism, you’ll be sure to stand out (for an example of how to do this, see the copyright-free email at the bottom of this article you can send “as-is” or model and adapt to suit your needs).
Because everyone else right now — from the news to the government to most businesses — are in “fear-mongering” mode.
Instead of spreading fear, focus on building relationships with your audience.
In my marketing “system”, the focus is always on relationships. Every email I send, every article I write, every correspondence I have, my focus is not to sell my product or service…
It’s to sell the relationship.
Because I know that the relationships with my audience will be worth far more to me in the long run than any one-time sale.
I think this is even more important right now. Because many people are trying to profit off the mayhem while others are only looking out for numero uno. And still others are whipping the masses into a frenzied, fear-based horde.
If you want some tangible “action-steps” to begin building relationships in your marketing, here’s how (and don’t forget the copyright-free email you get for reading to the end):
1) Advertising as a community
One of the reasons I see business owners struggle with marketing and selling is because they view themselves as selling to strangers. The way I market myself, it really feels more like selling to my friends.
Because a lot of the people on my list are my friends. Either I had a relationship with them before they joined my list, or they responded to one of my daily emails and we’re now “correspondents”.
You can also do this by throwing a virtual event. Maybe you host a livestream or just “Q&A Hour”. Something where people can connect with you and others from your audience in a “for-real” way. Again, it’s just about moving the relationship forward, even slightly.
2) Be of service
The best marketers and salespeople understand this as a maxim. Sales is a service.
It’s about finding out what people want and showing them how to get it. It’s not about beating the competition, or haggling over prices, or upselling to a higher quantity.
It’s really about helping people.
How that looks will be different for each person. I know some people in the freelance copywriting community are putting together an emergency fund for freelance copywriters in need. Others are doing live streams or bonus trainings to help people shore up sales. For you, it might be a free guided meditation to deal with stress.
If you stop thinking of yourself as “selling” and start thinking of yourself as “serving”, I’m sure the answer will appear.
3) Love your market
This is the most important thing of all.
“Thou shalt love thy market!”
And if you’re a Mindful Leader, you probably already do. That’s probably why you got into this gig. But now it’s time to turn that love dial up to 11.
But just like loving a spouse or friend goes far beyond the warm, gooey feeling of love… loving your market is tough work too. Because it means going far beyond the surface level.
It means understanding what really makes them tick. What keeps them up at night staring at the ceiling. What their deepest embarrassments are. What their daily frustrations are. Who they’re angry at and about what.
That may seem over the top, but by knowing these things, you allow people to feel seen and heard. And you allow yourself to become a solution to those problems. So while everyone else is pitching “buy this”... you’re saying “I understand you and I care”.
Who would you rather buy from?
The best way to get a deep understanding of your market is by spending time with them. Hang out where they hang out. Call up a customer and have a relaxed chat. Invite them to a Q&A. Encourage them to respond to your emails with questions, comments, or concerns. Read what they read. Scour forums and threads for comments. Do whatever it takes to understand them even better than they might understand themselves.
More than that, think of them as you would your wife or husband. You can’t just listen to what they’re saying. You have to go three layers deeper.
And as a Mindful Leader, I know you’re already set up to do that.
P.S. As a bonus for reading this far, here’s a copyright-free email you can 1) use as-is to send to your list, or 2) model and adapt for your own needs. If you have any questions, feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject: Why it’s okay to feel anxious, depressed, and despair
Currently, the human race is going through an unprecedented time in history. The spread of this virus is affecting every inch of our lives and every inch of our globe.
And if you’re having a hard time with it all, I’m here to tell you… so am I.
Which is perfectly okay.
When things spiral out of our control, it makes sense to feel anxious, scared, or even downright depressed.
I know over the last week, I’ve had my moments of darkness, depression, and despair.
Couple this “out of control” feeling with the stress of stocking up on food and toilet paper… and kids being home from school… and being cooped up all day with your spouse…
And things can get ‘hairy’ pretty quickly.
That’s okay too.
You see, mindfulness isn’t all about “love and light”. It’s not about becoming enlightened and transcending our human emotions. And it’s certainly not an antidote for feeling bad.
It can, however, give us just a bit of space to allow our own innate wisdom to seep through. And when we’re open to that wisdom, when we surrender what we think should be happening for what is happening, sometimes a bigger picture emerges.
And that doesn’t mean the anxiety, fear, and pain goes away.
But when we cultivate that space, we’re able to live with those negative emotions.
We’re able to move on. To wake up and get our kids dressed and make breakfast and even though we may want to strangle our spouse, we still give them a hug and say “I love you”.
Because that’s what life is about.
And that’s what mindfulness is about too.
So instead of watching the news all day and arguing with your friends about ‘fake news’ on Facebook, I encourage you to use this period of isolation as a “booster-shot” to your practice.
Commit to a time and sit.
It could be 15 minutes a day — Great!
It could be an hour — Fantastic!
Or, if you’re in a position to, maybe you spend this time as a ‘solitary retreat’.
Whatever you can do, do it.
It will be your gift to the world.
And if you need a little help, you can get my XYZ guided meditation, which is great for times of stress. It’s [ON SALE/FREE/ETC] for the next few days.
As always, if you need someone to talk to, please hit ‘reply’ and let me know.
I’m here for you.
Tyler McCune of Copy by McCune is a copywriter and marketing consultant that helps meditation teachers market themselves responsibly. He writes daily responsible marketing tips to his email-based community.