What is Conscious Marketing?Jun 03, 2022
This post was originally written for the Accessible Yoga School blog and has been cross-posted with permission.
by Tristan Katz
Marketing has gotten a bad wrap. Systems like capitalism and white supremacy have us convinced that marketing is only one thing: manipulation to get someone’s money.
Conscious Marketing is an invitation to flip the narrative, to challenge these systems while growing our work, and to use our marketing spaces as places where we practice our activism.
One of the primary tenets of a good marketing strategy is building the “know-like-trust” factor, and so many marketing “experts” will coach you through this process in a way that focuses on numbers, profit, and performance.
The truth is that the “know-like-trust” factor is a critical component for any impactful growth strategy, yet we can approach this tenet from a place of authenticity, vulnerability, community-building, and service.
For example, we can bring what we’re already teaching into our marketing—we can share asana explorations, thoughts on yoga philosophy, ways we’re embodying the practice off the mat and in our daily lives and relationships…and when we share these thoughts and teachings, we’re orienting towards relationship over profit, towards community over sales, and we’re challenging the narratives that dominate the marketing space which often tell us not to “give anything away.”
Transactional marketing and its related systems—capitalism and white supremacy—thrive when we perpetuate the notion that marketing is rooted in deceit, sales pitches, transactions, and joyless, disingenuous tactics to make a profit.
Conscious marketing and its related liberatory tenets and practices are oriented towards self- and collective-care, towards centering relationship, towards authenticity and vulnerability, and towards solidarity in action.
Here’s a glimpse of five ways to embrace “conscious marketing”:
- Acknowledge your privileged identities. This can look as “simple” as locating yourself in an intro post on social media or naming the aspects of your identities that place you more proximal to power in a newsletter or website statement while also inviting your subscribers to commit to action.
- Center those most impacted. Learn about and implement accessibility practices such as alt text and image IDs (two different things!), practice placing content warnings when discussing sensitive topics, always use captions when sharing video content, uplift and amplify others’ work—especially across lines of difference, and de-center yourself when current events are harming others.
- Feel the collective pulse before you share. Marketing timelines are important and we must also practice non-attachment to the content we strategize. When traumatic moments are happening in our collective, it’s always best to pause, slow down, and tune in to what you’re feeling rather than pushing forward with a strategy that might actually override what your nervous system and body needs, and possibly negatively impact others in the process. Be sensitive to the space you take up—how, why, and when.
- Emphasize quality over quantity. Consistency is important, as are numbers—they can serve as valuable information to guide us in learning and pivoting when something isn’t working. And when we get swept up in the pressure to “post every day” or to “grow our following,” we can lose sight of what matters, which is quality. If we’re not creating and sharing content that resonates and offers value, then the quantity of our shares and the quantity of our engagement will be diluted.
- Self-care first. Dominant oppressive systems thrive when we are disconnected and under-resourced. Check in and ask yourself, “What boundaries do I need around my marketing strategy and creation time in order to feel grounded, aligned, and resourced? How can I show up for myself first, so I can show up for my marketing in a way that honors my needs and the needs of my work in the world?”
When we lean in to exploring the tools of yoga and of social justice, we don't erase the possibility of harm—owning mistakes and learning from them is part of the practice, but we broaden our capacity to show up as allies, accomplices, and co-conspirators.
As yoga teaches us, we are all interconnected. Our well-being and liberation is bound. I believe that yoga is an invitation to commit to social justice actions, and I believe we can bring both the practices of justice and yoga into our marketing.
I believe we can do more than just grow our work through our marketing. We can engage in dismantling systems of oppression while seeking to grow our work; we can contribute to social change. We can make shifts in our work and in the world.
Tristan Katz (they/them) is a writer and equity-inclusion facilitator who specializes in justice-focused marketing for yoga and wellness professionals along with workshops, trainings, and consulting centered around queer identity and transgender awareness with an anti-oppression and intersectional lens. They are a member of the Accessible Yoga Association Board of Directors.
Want more from Tristan Katz?
Join Tristan for Conscious Marketing: Justice-Focused Digital Strategies for Yoga Teachers, an 18-hour online course exploring marketing through the lens of yoga and social justice. June 7-23, 2022!
You can also hear Tristan, along with colleague Maygen Nicholson, discussing the creation of trans-affirming spaces on the Accessible Yoga podcast.
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