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What is the difference between traditional and spiritual marketing?

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Traditionally, companies use marketing to maximise profit for shareholders. It helps them present their offer in a favourable way, so they can increase revenue at minimal cost.  

Meanwhile, spiritual marketing takes a more holistic view of business, valuing customer satisfaction, employee happiness, product quality and the wider societal impact equally alongside financial metrics.

Here’s a quick overview of the differences between traditional and spiritual marketing:

Traditional marketing Spiritual marketing
Focus on money Focus on energy exchange
Invests in shareholders only Invests in a better world for everyone
Prioritises profit over long-term relationships Willing to invest in relationships at the expense of short-term profitability
Believes in scarcity Believes in abundance
Competition for market share Collaboration with and complementary offerings to market players
Communicates its values Lives by its values
Deceives and manipulates prospects Honest with prospects
Promises an instant, effort-less solution to complex customer problems Inspires customers to take ownership to become the best version of themselves
Overpromises and underdelivers Does not make promises that cannot be kept
Encourages people to buy their product (even when it isn’t a good fit) Encourages people to choose a solution that works for them / turns down customers that are not a good fit
Puts the company (or the marketer) first Sees the marketer, company and customer as equals
Sells any product that can be sold, regardless of its real value or benefit Sells valuable and beneficial products
Manipulates the emotions of the target audience Relates to the emotions of the target audience
Expects prospects to pay before getting anything in return Delivers value to prospects upfront
Promotes materialistic mindset Promotes spiritual development

How does traditional marketing work?

Traditional marketing focusses on selling a product at maximum value to the company. Its goal is to drive up the price at which a product can be sold, while increasing the number of people who purchase.

To increase product price, companies can either:

  • Increase the perceived value of a product (=so customers are willing to pay more), or
  • Ensure that no better alternative is available in the market (=so customers begrudgingly pay more).

Ways to increase the perceived value of a product include traditional lobbying and public relations, as well as advertising, so the media features the product in a positive light. Companies might also buy certifications or accreditation, participate in industry awards or feature ‘experts’ who endorse the product on offer. CSR certification and greenwashing in ESG reports are prime examples of this.

But companies can also engage in fraudulent marketing practices such as manipulating customer reviews, or using misleading pricing with hidden costs to influence customer perception. Regardless of the strategy used, it essentially involves inflating the perceived value of a product to the point where you ‘overpromise and underdeliver’.

To ensure that no better alternative is available to prospective buyers, businesses can engage in various forms of market manipulation. The most innocuous is negative advertising against competitors to tarnish their reputation. More extreme types of market manipulating include filing false lawsuits against competitors to damage their public image or even drive-up legal costs.

Market manipulation can also see multiple companies cooperating with each other at the expense of the customers, for example, using price cartels or large organisations buying start-ups for their innovative technology only to then pull that technology from the market.

How does spiritual marketing work?

Spiritual marketing focusses on sharing value with customers, while benefitting the company and its employees. It involves being honest, and creating an environment that nourishes positive emotion.

Spiritual marketers do what’s right, even when it costs them revenue. This is because they value a clear conscience and peace of mind over material gain.

Some examples of spiritual marketing include:

  • Actively discouraging the WRONG customers from buying: e.g. Ramit Sethi says: “This product is not for you, IF … and this product is for you, IF …”
  • Honesty in communications: If you say that registration for your online course or event is only possible till a certain date, stick to that. Do what you say and say what you do. Promise only that which you can deliver.
  • Pricing strategies that fit your business philosophy: e.g. crowdfunding to test market interest and demand, free options for people with limited incomes, donation-based business models, no-questions-asked money-back guarantee, etc.
  • Offering supplementary value through communications: e.g. Feng shui web design, healing imagery or sales copy that challenges prospects’ limiting beliefs and helps them change their perspective.

All of these seek to promote spiritual development and invest in a more loving, caring and kind world, while empowering people to solve their own challenges.

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