the yins and yangs of marketing (an introspection on a new way to market)

(The following is a personal essay inspired by a conversation I had with a friend about developing a new ethical version of marketing for my sacred business. (thank you Theresa 🙂 This concept is still very much a work in progress for me, but it is a start and something I can do to with greater awareness, avoiding exploitative tactics.)

the yins and yangs of marketing
by becky jaine

I spent nearly 20 years making a living working in marketing and public relations–crafting words, messaging and images to evoke emotions in people to take actions around the products and services I worked for. It was my job. As a lover of words,(not to brag) but I was quite good at it.

Five years ago I took a radical sabbatical. For many reasons I left my career to be fully present as a mother, to raise my husband’s and my three children. He and I made a conscious decision to reduce our financial expenditures on things like restaurants, expensive grocery food, new clothes, extra shoes, paid entertainment, Christmas presents for each other, and fancy vacations involving planes and hotels, instead to invest that time and would-be money into our children. It has not been easy, but it is a decision both he and I committed to.

Motherhood has been the most challenging and rewarding experience I have ever known. As my children got older, I asked myself how I’d like to contribute to the world, outside of being a mother, and how I could make a difference in the lives of people in my immediate community, using my passions, gifts and talents and my experience. I knew eventually I would return to working outside my home, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity. I knew –however– I was no longer passionate about marketing.

When my son was 1, I began co-creating a women’s circle in my city. Women came and were validated and nourished by the time we all spent together and the activities we chose to do, many times creating positive ripple effects around us.

Last year I began offering special small group retreats for women, intended to inspire women to take better care of their spirits and perhaps to rekindle their individual passions and gifts. To create this experience I listened to my heart and also drew from my years of event planning.

I also began offering programs for middle-school aged girls in my community, offering a special time and place to honor their creativity, kindness, and for the girls to talk and listen to each other and validate their feelings and opinions. This draws on my passion for creativity and belief in kindness.

These three adventures/ventures have become my work … my job–well, in addition to my responsibilities to my family. These passions have become the way I will give and receive and now hopefully to financially support my family.

The work I do now has become my sacred business. I didn’t find it, the work truly found me. After years and years of making my own path, I paused long enough to let the path find me, and I am so grateful to my husband for everything he has done to allow this to blossom and to unfold.

Because I know how to market the heck out of something, I feel a great responsibility to ethically promote my work, without exploitative tactics or ploys. I haven’t done anything intentionally to evoke media response, or to attract people by exploiting their emotions. Instead, I choose to focus on sharing my intentions with my work, one person at a time. It may mean fewer people come, and that’s ok. In time–if what I am doing is truly needed and valued in my community–my work will grow and continue to blossom and hopefully support, celebrate and nourish many more people.

For the past year–to help heal my wonky immune system–I have gone to Chinese acupuncturist. He and I have had some really interesting conversations about marketing. He has taught me about Chinese theory of Yin and Yang and he even told me about one of his teachers marketing their business in a Yin manner. This notion piqued my curiosity because Yin Marketing seems counter culture, but –to me– YIN marketing feels more ethical.

According to a Chinese theory there are two forces in the universe: yin is the passive, negative force, and yang the active, positive force. The American Heritage Dictionary says about yin and yang that wise people will detect these forces in the seasons, in their food, and so on, and will regulate their lives accordingly.

Considering this theory in marketing, it appears most marketing is driven by Yang principles: Messages are created that tout the benefits, augmenting the thing or feeling that appears to be lacking that can only be resolved if the product or service is purchased.

Yang is can be dominating, demanding, exposing, forthright. Yang can propagate or exploit feelings of lack. It can create vulnerability. Yang marketing can make people feel inadequate unless they buy something.

For my sacred business, instead of using what I knew–what I’ve come to see as Yang marketing– I have gone about it in a different way … intentionally choosing to focus on what I care about and what I can do, one person at a time, through my work.

To me, this is Yin marketing. Yin can be nourishing, replenishing, responsive. Yin believes in abundance. Yin is not aggressive or noisy.

Yin OR Yang marketing may each inspire people to take an action–like registered for a program or buying a product–but the intention behind each is slightly different.

My intention through Yin marketing my sacred business is to attract to me those who I can support– not necessarily to fill all my openings. As I learn about the subtleties of Yin marketing, I know I have to work on growing my faith. I have to trust that through YIN marketing, magic will happen outside the actions I take … that if my work is truly needed and valued that I will be supported and sustained.

I have to believe that maybe me and my hubby will one day be able to afford a real take out pizza again.

What do you think about the Yins and Yangs of Marketing?

5 thoughts on “the yins and yangs of marketing (an introspection on a new way to market)

  1. Chris Sinha says:

    I love the idea of yin marketing. It seems like it should work, right? You simply offer something that the world wants, and people will talk about it, and you will talk about it, and people with positive experiences will tell folks . . . but we live in a very, very noisy world. Maybe noisy enough to drown out a passive statement that something they experienced was wonderful. Maybe noisy enough that yin marketing will be drowned out by a thousand other demands for attention. I want very much to like yin marketing. But I don’t know that I can talk that extra step to say I think it would work.

  2. Pam O'Connor says:

    I also love the idea of yin marketing, but must agree with Chris’ comment above. There is a lot competing for people’s attention via various platforms today. I honestly don’t see an ethical conflict if you were to very intentionally and strategically execute a targeted PR and marketing campaign to help your very positive message and “product/service” reach a wider audience. So use both the yin and yang. Obviously, you being you, the content would be highly ethical, uplifting and positive! I do not see anything wrong with that, nor in asking people to financially compensate you for what is your intellectual property and insight as a speaker and leader. There will always be those who can afford such things, and those who cannot. Because you are a generous and kind spirit, I know you will always make room for those deserving folks who want to participate, but may not be able financially do so. But in order to receive, we have to ask and not always trust that folks will do the right thing. Sometimes they do, but more often then not, they need that gentle nudge to do so ;0) my 25 cents.

    • Thank you both for your thoughtful comments. I feel there are ways to Yang and Yin market that are valuable and important and ethical. I don’t necessarily feel I did things unethically in my career, I just did things with a lack of awareness.
      Now I’m feeling my way through what feels like the opposite of what I knew to do, and believe I will come to a new middle ground that uses both–afterall according to this Chinese principle we cannot exist in only one aspect, we have to embody both yin and yang. There is a ton of noise, and what I’m part of is calm, grounding and rather quiet in comparison. I will definitely take what you both shared and think about how to bang the drum in new yang-infused ways, to make a difference and make a living. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! ❤

  3. Hi Becky, thank you for getting this discussion going!!!! The biggest part of our offerings is “a knowing” that it is here to serve and help another soulful being, creating the ripples in the pond.

    Plus asking the right questions is what I have been coming across (NLP). Like what really wants to happen here, what choices do I have that I have not considered? Then get out of the way and allow for things to show up so we can choose. This is definitely a practice. Another part of yin I find for myself is if something feels light or heavy. Choices that feel light nourish our spirit and path.

    I like what you wrote about expressing one’s intentions for what we offer, this brings a balance to what a participants receives. Looking at the steps and the big picture.

    You are the calm and a walking meditation. What a wonderful place to be. From a past reference – meditation is a state of presence, not a method. Thank you for sharing your presence in this blog entry.

  4. I really like Theresa’s comment about choices that feel light. My favorite form of yin marketing is to imagine me and my services as a magnet attracting those who would most appreciate and benefit and also attracting fun and joy into the mix. I feel it helps to have a passion to be of service and to offer from your heart for this concept to work well.

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