Written by Nicole Bayes, Shiatsu Practitioner MRSS (tt) and Marketing Manager www.nicolebayes.com
Kindly edited by Tasmin Rohman and Dinah John, Principal of the Shiatsu College.
Marketing can be an emotional topic for some of us, especially for holistic practitioners I find. Why? Because the subject of marketing actually taps into some far deeper personal issues and can highlight unresolved internal conflicts. When we embark on a new marketing project these sensitive issues can be triggered, particularly for those of us who are self-employed and when working with clients, I am aware of this.
If you feel opposed to engaging in a programme of marketing, perhaps read the following topics and consider if they may be the cause of some resistance. I am sure there will be reasons other than the ones presented - the simplest being, that marketing is just not an area of interest for you. If that is the case, then hopefully you are able to afford to outsource support. If you have limited resources however, and need to do the marketing yourself, then these areas might provide a working ground for reflection to support the next step for your business.
'I hate selling myself' - Changing our view
Many self-employed clients I work with declare 'I hate marketing, I hate having to sell myself'. I hear them say, 'I just don't want to do it'. A deep discomfort is displayed on their faces as they physically withdraw from what seems to be a word that is making them feel dirty. I work with many holistic therapists who are giving and empathetic people, so the thought of pushing or selling their work, or themselves, can feel unsettling and unnatural. I understand that as I am the same.
I however, enjoy marketing. Why? It’s because I take a different view. Marketing to me is exciting - for different reasons. Marketing my work, or that of others, offers an opportunity to express professional and personal values creatively, which is something I relish. The vivid visual media that can help communicate the meaning of what we do, and bring that story to life, can be a thrill! Marketing tools help us to connect with others, share and celebrate the knowledge, experiences and aspects of the work that have been of great use or value to us personally. It is an opportunity to spread the word of what we are passionate about and to inspire others. Share the love we have of our vocation and celebrate it. A marketing tool is a helpful friend, not a foe, to our business.
'I hate talking about my fee' - Finance and energetic exchange
When we start to think about marketing at some stage we will be evaluating our products and services, our time, knowledge, experience and what they cost. This can be a sensitive issue as finances deeply affect how we live our lives. They impact on our stress levels and can alter how we think about ourselves. Money can have deep-rooted connections to our sense of personal and professional worth. We may not feel satisfied with our income and feel undervalued, which is uncomfortable. Practically, deciding the cost of our services can be difficult, as we want to be competitive in our field and need to pitch ourselves appropriately whilst balancing this with earning a reasonable living. Marketing can ask us to face these questions, which may feel like a confrontation for some.
Money however is a condensed form of Qi/energy and when we are given money for a service it is an energy exchange. Marketing is also a dynamic exchange of energy, one of communicating and receiving information - therefore marketing is a form of energy work – and as Shiatsu practitioners we’re good at that! We are marketing ourselves whether consciously or unconsciously all the time. When we are feeling excited about our craft and are enthusiastic about expressing this to our audience, our Qi field is in an expansive state and more likely make a connection with others. However when we’re in a contracted state this connection is far less likely or can even be severed. Marketing tools can therefore be seen as energetic conductors for us to communicate the passion we have for our work and to meet people who might benefit from it. The question is, are you aware of what your energetic relationship with marketing is like?
'I hate using technology' - Demons of service
'I hate technology', is a comment I regularly hear regarding marketing tools - particularly from fellow bodywork therapists. 'I don't know what I'm doing' is another. In our busy lives, new marketing platforms can seem like just another ‘thing to do'. You imagine it will mean staring at a screen for hours and using unfamiliar marketing media tools you don't enjoy - having to engage in online communities when you would rather do it face-to-face.
I understand. I'm not a natural 'techie lover' either. I'd much rather be walking in the woods or speaking to someone in person rather than looking at a screen. However, I look to the positive and ask what benefits do these platforms gift to us? How can they serve to communicate what is of value to us? Internet platforms can not only introduce us to a regional audience but potentially to an international one as well. This is an exciting prospect - not to be sniffed at. The question is how can you find your route into enjoying the process? For me, as someone with a curious nature and an appreciation of beauty, technology can feel enjoyable and engaging as it fulfils my need for play. It is also interesting as it is tool full of creative potential, enabling communication and connection, which I value.
Technology is not the enemy, it can be a tool that serves us, helping us to connect and engage with people on a personal level. Helping people to find us and our work. Remember, we are the master - it is our tool, we can choose our level of engagement.
'I hate social media' - Nonconformity and public exposure
It's difficult to galvanise and employ our energy when we don't like our object of engagement. For example, if you feel that social media isolates rather than connects or that websites are an extension of an international capitalist culture - which ethically you disagree with - then you're likely to come up against resistance to some marketing tools. Marketing does require finding popular or useful marketplaces, platforms or applications for your work, to engage and communicate with your potential new audiences. This can require a level of conformity to established social methods of communication, some of which we may not ethically agree with or personally enjoy engaging in. Therefore for those nonconformists amongst us, this might create great resistance.
Marketing is also a very public declaration of who we are and how we choose to define ourselves and our working practice. Some of us don't like to be defined, at all, particularly publicly. Being in the public eye may be a cause for discomfort or deep unease, especially to those of us who are more introverted in nature, as it may feel very exposing. It does take courage to 'put ourselves out there' professionally - we can feel very vulnerable. After all, we are leaving ourselves open to the opinions of others – to potential rejection and failure - which is naturally uncomfortable.
I can relate to both these issues. This is why, personally, I think it's important to believe in what you do and the product or service you are offering. Then you can trust in the integrity of your work and be sure of confidently communicating your genuine passion. You can also make a conscious choice about what are the right ethical boundaries for your business. Then be confident and trust that by setting up the right conditions, with energy, time and momentum the right clients will find you.
'I just hate marketing' - Time for personal evaluation
Marketing is a tool: it can help us achieve our goals by promoting our work to potential clients. But first we have to define our goals. When we do this, we are often required to take stock. Assessing where we are currently and ultimately where we want to be. This in itself can be an uncomfortable process for some: if we are not living up to our own expectations or we have not achieved the success we had hoped for at this stage in our professional lives.
When we take steps to evaluate the image or brand of our business and what it communicates, we have to ask - what are our values? What ethical values do you base your enterprise on? This will translate into the choices you make in all aspects of your business, particularly how you communicate this in a visual language to your clients.
For some, this can be an uncomfortable question for different reasons. To communicate our values we, particularly if we are self-employed, may need to ask ourselves who am I, what do I believe, what do I care about? If we are feeling uncertain or unhappy with our direction and commitment of energy - or are at a turning point - this question may be more difficult to answer.
Of course, we can all be affected by one of the areas above to a greater or lesser extent. I think it can be useful to be honest with ourselves and identify what is alive in us. Simply by addressing our emotional tensions we can free up our energy, ideally to be of service to the positive pursuit of our dreams. Of course none of this may apply to you.... and you could just hate marketing ;)
Wishing you the best of luck in all your pursuits. Please feel free to share your thoughts.
Nicole Bayes, studied Theatre at Manchester University then worked as a Project Manager and Events Co-ordinator for Theatres and International Festivals, before training with the Shiatsu College Norwich. Alongside her Shiatsu Practice, she is a Marketing Manager, www.nicolebayes.com for the Shiatsu College Norwich, the Shiatsu Centre and New Energy Work as well as for other clients. She has worked as a Marketing Tutor on the Successful Practice Management online course for New Energy Work.