Exploring the Spiritual Side of Marketing
Marketing guru Joe Vitale describes himself as one of the stars of the movie, The Secret. He is a metaphysician who espouses the “Law of Attraction,” which states that events in one’s life are influenced by one’s conscious thoughts: Positive thoughts cause positive outcomes and negative thoughts cause negative outcomes. His New Age ideals are sprinkled throughout the latest book to bear his byline, Inspired Marketing!: The Astonishing Fun New Way to Create More Profits for Your Business by Following Your Heart.
Vitale’s co-author Craig Perrine runs a Web site called MaverickMarketer.com and specializes in e-mail marketing. The premise of their book is that today’s consumers are so bombarded with advertising pitches that they have basically grown immune to them. To effectively get their attention, marketers must try to get buyers to feel an attachment to their company or product by appealing to emotion. Marketing, they insist, is not really manipulative if the sales pitch “comes from the heart.”
At the outset of their book, the two promise to “present the amazing step-by-step model used by today’s very best marketers.” The structure of their book, however, makes that promise just about impossible to fulfill, since each chapter is simply an interview between Perrine and a successful entrepreneur.
The interviewees found throughout Inspired Marketing! are mostly motivational speakers, self-help authors and/or Web entrepreneurs. Disappointingly, there are no chapters dedicated to selling a conventional product or service in the manner advocated by Vitale and Perrine. In addition, the featured entrepreneurs were apparently chosen because of their relationship to the authors, not because of their remarkable stories or unique insights.
In a chapter titled, “Yes, It Can Be That Easy If You Say ‘Yes’ to Inspiration,” for example, Perrine interviews a woman named Suzanne Burns. Burns runs her own Web site, in addition to her day job working as the executive assistant and publicist for none other than Joe Vitale. Burns recounts the growth of her Web site as a series of happy coincidences. The chapter ends, as do the others, with an enumeration of the chapter’s key ideas. For example, this chapter concludes with such lessons as, “Listen to the messages from the Universe and take action. Don’t worry about the ‘how,’” and “By being in a state of allowing, the Universe takes care of us!”
While the aforementioned aphorisms may fit the “inspired” part of the book’s title, there is little or no mention of “marketing.” And that is the book’s most glaring flaw. Inspired marketing, the authors contend, can’t really be forced. Ideas just have to come to you. It must be organic, using things such as true personal stories. But while the authors’ ideas might be interesting, and perhaps even inspirational, others might find the coincidences and life circumstances that aided the authors’ friends and colleagues in growing their businesses hard to reproduce. And if their methods are not reproducible, they’re not very valuable.
In fact, it doesn’t seem like the book is so much about marketing as it actually is marketing. The interviewees have their Web sites mentioned frequently and Vitale’s other books and ventures get plenty of coverage. It is difficult to tell whether this self-promotion is intentional or just a function of the book’s structure. Perhaps if the authors had identified their marketing messages up front, then used their interview material to back up their arguments instead of leaving readers to tease out applicable information from the rest, the product placements would not seem so overt and their premise would not seem so underdeveloped.