BREAKING WITH TRADITION IN MARKETING – AN ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY PERSPECTIVE

[Warning… 7 min read, but well worth it if you ever feel disconnected from what you are doing and wondering what all this ‘busy-ness’ on life is actually for…]

You’ve probably already noticed, the western world is going through a really big transition. The justification “but we’ve always done it this way” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Retail and bricks and mortar businesses are having to reinvent themselves, the workplace is becoming far more flexible, shopping centres have become places where we go to have an experience rather than shop, expos and trade shows as a source of new clients are drying up, and multi-billion dollar companies that produce nothing except on-sell other people’s services are soaring!

There is a groundswell of people questioning the way that we do everything, and it’s fair to say that we have been living in an unconscious bubble for many decades. Blindly accepting traditions and busily numbing ourselves with the latest gadgets, shiny new cars, over-indulging in food, alcohol, trips to Bali and ridiculously expensive big houses… the thing is, it’s not actually working. Our bellies are bigger but our souls aren’t being fed!

Most people cannot honestly say that they are happy with their lives – no matter their personal wealth or status. We were sold the dream of “work hard, save hard, go into seriously huge debt to buy a house and you’ll be happy when you retire”… but, it’s not making us happy now. People in western society, in general, are pretty miserable because this is not the dream we were sold as kids.

So how does this all apply to business owners? Well for years I’ve been dancing around this, not quite putting it together and unconsciously doing this thing with clients that I now call Connection Marketing. It involves really getting to the core of what your business is all about, being as real as possible, and having a heretic-mindset towards how things are done in your industry. I came to notice that when a business really took off, it was when they were not following the path that others had laid out before them. They weren’t afraid to show the rawness of behind the scenes and the changes they were making in their industry. They let people come into their world, they turned their team members into heroes and they certainly didn’t care what their competitors were doing, because they were forging their own path.

It all came down to having a deep connection with their purpose, knowing what made them happy and having passion for every aspect of their life and business because they were part of something so much bigger than just making money. The business owners really succeeding were on a mission of change and they were rock solid about every aspect of their lives. And their businesses sky-rocketed!
We as a society have become so disconnected from our personal truths, that over the generations we have just blindly bought into the marketing hype of how we should be living, and we didn’t pull ourselves up and actually ask ourselves the question “are we happy?!”. Depression rates have been steadily rising since the mid-1930s and approximately 40 million American adults are said to have an anxiety disorder, and children are now medicated with psychiatric drugs.

So… bringing this all back to my title… how does this relate to Valentine’s Day?!

I’ve come to realise (and you might already be there) that we have been fed some pretty big stories in our childhoods, about all of these so-called special days. “It’s tradition”, and “it’s just the way we’ve always done things” no longer cuts it.

How can we keep indulging these traditions when we know the origins are so commercial?!

I know I could be seriously triggering all the romantics out there but the reality is, Valentine’s Day was commercialised by Hallmark Cards in the early 1900’s as a way to cash in on the lovely tradition of making hand-made gifts for loved ones to commemorate the romantic day. If you were actually serious about making a real connection with your loved one, wouldn’t you treat them like it was Valentine’s Day EVERY DAY?! You don’t need to buy over-priced roses and heart shaped chocolates on one specific day a year to show someone that you love them. It’s just become expected that we do it… even though we all know deep deep down that it’s a crock!

And while we’re at it… let’s talk about Easter. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Black Friday, (I still don’t even know what that is except that people seem to have all these big discounts for that week!).

And then there’s Christmas… did you know that the character Santa Claus was commercialised by Coca Cola in the 1920’s through to the mid 60’s, and it was an absolute goldmine for their marketing and branding for decades! It starts in September in the shopping centres and this phenomenally wasteful and excessive beast that we now call Christmas is completely out of control. Do you ever stop and wonder what are we actually personally gaining from it? It has become such a duty and financial strain. Do we seriously need to blow thousands of dollars EVERY YEAR on things we don’t need for people that we feel obligated to buy for…?

Now don’t get me wrong. Traditions are lovely when they’re personal to you and your loved ones and they have real meaning and authenticity behind it. We have plenty of self-imposed traditions in our home and they’re wonderful. But they’re personal to us and no corporation is telling us how to do it.

If you love the tradition of catching up with family and friends over Christmas… go for it! Human beings are creatures of connection and we have always moved in packs because our survival depended on it. Centuries ago when we lived in small communal villages and lived off the land, our traditions were stemmed in story-telling that connected people to each other and the land on which we lived and cultivated to survive. We didn’t live with excess, we all felt like we belonged because we each had a purpose that was critical to our collective survival. Life was certainly harder but it had purpose.

So fast-forward a few centuries to today’s modern world in what should be in the best times ever, and yet our ‘traditions’ are now orchestrated from media propaganda machines headed by corporations who only answer to their board and their shareholders!

So I guess the purpose for this article is to ask you to really question why you do things, in all areas of your life and business. And why do you accept things we have been told by corporations to be true? Are you doing things because it’s for the greater good and it truly makes you feel connected to what you are trying to achieve? Or are you doing it because that’s the way it’s always been done, even though it puts you in greater financial stress and you’re worried what people think of you if you don’t.

There is a wave of change coming, and it’s been happening for some time now. People are waking up and questioning the way that we do EVERYTHING! We are questioning western philosophies and turning to more traditional eastern ways of thinking. We don’t want to go back to living in primitive times, and I personally am very grateful for being a woman in these times where there are so many equal opportunities… but we can’t dismiss that we are craving to be far less busy, less consumed by ‘stuff’ and wanting to feel connected to ourselves and each other again. We want to do the kind of work and have businesses that has a positive effect on the world, and our environment.

It’s a very exciting time for businesses who can recognise this change and are able to embrace it. It’s also very terrifying for businesses who are stuck in still doing things the way they used to do it 10 and 20 years ago. Following these pointless seasonal trends and slashing your prices isn’t working. Trying to sell more ‘stuff’ that we don’t actually need is not the answer to long term business success.

Sustainability, consciousness, meaningful experiences, connection, providing real value for services and products that people really need and benefit from, innovating and finding solutions that help people to connect with themselves and their communities again is how your business could be providing real value moving into the future, and it can be your real point of difference.

We are living in a very exciting time because we will either botch it big time with the planet, or live through the most amazing time of change and innovation that we’ve ever known to make things right again. I’m very hopeful it’s the latter because I’m always the optimist, and I believe there are enough changemakers and heretics out there to make it happen!

I’d love to know what you think!
Melissa
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Note by the author:
I reference the word heretic a couple of times. A modern day heretic is a free thinker, a renegade, somebody that holds an opinion that is at odds with what is generally accepted….
I wrote this article to encourage you to rethink how you live your life and to find more passion, meaning and joy in your business, and if you have a sense that you want to do things differently and be a business that supports innovation, connection and change. We recently started a new sister agency to Divine Creative, called Heretic Creative Agency and it’s for this type of entrepreneur and business owner. The 2% we like to call them! If you’re part of the 2%, why don’t you get in touch and let’s continue the conversation.

* https://news.gallup.com/opinion/chairman/212045/world-broken-workplace.aspx?g_source=position1&g_medium=related&g_campaign=tiles

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