why ethical entrepreneurs might hold back on marketing or going deeper with clients

We’ve all been on the receiving end of unkept promises, manipulative practices, power plays from leaders, false urgency, bypassing, and otherwise “icky” behavior in the self-help/transformation industry… and so we make a promise to ourselves to be… 

Not. That. 

We know ourselves to be people of integrity. To be driven by this value. To not take advantage of others. 

And thank goodness for that. The industry needs more practitioners who refuse to use these icky practices in marketing and in client sessions.

But, sometimes, working so hard to not be the thing we stand against…Means we keep ourselves small. Or quiet. 

We may really want to be visible but end up not putting ourselves out there at all (or just barely). We may stop ourselves short from offering our work in big ways. We may find it difficult to raise our rates. We may end up holding back from working with clients or not allowing ourselves to go as deep in sessions out of fear that we might do harm. 

It’s as if, in our quest to make sure we aren’t out of integrity, we in essence, hide ourselves, hold ourselves back, and keep ourselves from doing the full measure of work we want to be doing in the world…just to ensure we’re never like “them” (i.e. icky, manipulative leaders).

(If this is you, please know you are in very good company! It is very normal and speaks deeply to your beautiful heart and beautiful values).

Over the course of two decades of being an entrepreneur – and being one who values ethics above practically everything else – here’s what I’ve learned:

There is a way to grow a thriving business, to be fully visible, and to do deep work with clients, AND be ethical at the same time. It may not be the way that most other people are doing it, but it is very possible.

And not only that, but I’ve also learned that having ethical practices at the heart of my marketing and my client work IS part of the special sauce that has allowed my business to grow. (YAY! Right?)

So all that being said, how do we do this? How do we show up fully for our business and work AND be ethical at the same time?

Well, it takes time, and it takes three different sets of skills: 

  1. Ethical Marketing Skills: The transformational industry doesn’t have enough models of ethical, non-icky, in-integrity marketing, and so we need to learn those ethical marketing skills. Because the more we know we have ways of marketing with integrity….the more willing we’re going to be to actually market!

I’ve led full-length programs on these alone, there are so many to cover. For right now, I want to share a few to start thinking about:

  • Don’t “Shame” Market: It’s a common practice in marketing to basically make people feel really bad about themselves and where they’re at as a tactic to “get” them to buy. Yes, of course, it is sometimes important to speak to what’s not working well for a prospect, but be very mindful of how you do it. Do it with tons of love. Do it with tons of respect. Do it in a way that is empowering – and not disempowering – for your prospects. And always focus on how incredible your prospect already is and what is possible.
  • Don’t Make False Promises: There are too many examples out there of inflated marketing promises. “This will happen overnight!”; “You will be FULLY cured!”, etc etc. Yes, those types of promises are alluring for sure. But please remember that you don’t need to do this in your marketing in order to attract clients. Be honest about what’s possible and what the time frame is. It will feel like a breath of fresh air for your aligned future clients.
  • Don’t Create False Urgency: “If you buy this in the next 5 minutes, you’ll save thousands!!!!” Oy. I shudder to think about what that does to the nervous system of a prospect who is genuinely interested in buying but needs a little bit of time to find their aligned decision. I regularly offer “early bird” rates on programs because it does help people make a quicker aligned decision sometimes. But – and this is a huge “but” – even within that early bird period, I give time. I don’t create false urgency. I honor different types of nervous systems and decision-making processes so that no one ever ever feels pressured to make a stressful decision.

2. Ethical Coaching & Transformational Skills:Ethical Transformational Skills are at the heart of my own practice, and those skills are what actually allow me to be able to go so deep with my clients, to be able to create client & group containers where is so much beautiful vulnerability and sharing and willingness to do the hard work. It’s what allows for the transformation to take place and the results to happen. 

I spend ten months in the Sacred Depths Transformational Practitioner Program to teach these ethical transformation skills (yes, they are 110% related to going deep, and yes, it does take a while to really learn and master!). For right now, here’s one to start to think about:

  • Don’t Take “Power Over” by Bypassing: Sometimes practitioners with the best of intentions forget to check what I call their “Listening Filters,” and then, because of this, they don’t fully see their client in their pain, struggle, or true situation. And here’s what happens next: the practitioner inadvertently tells the client, “it’s not so bad,” or “you could look at it this way instead,” or something like that instead of first honoring and acknowledging what is for the client. Because there are culturally inherent power dynamics in client-practitioner relationships (that we always want to work to dismantle), bypassing can end up limiting a client’s experience. So, always check your listening filters when you’re with your clients!

3. Your Own Inner Shadow Journey: One thing I’ve seen over and over again is that for folks who have really decided that they will never be slimy, icky, or out of integrity, what can kind of happen is that in that commitment, in that extreme fear of being untrustworthy or manipulative or harmful or taking power “over”, they inadvertently end up putting that powerful part of themselves that has the ability to make their work visible into the Shadows. And when we put our Power in Shadow, we don’t have full access to it, even if cognitively, we understand that there are ethical marketing strategies out there!

So, along with honing your ethical marketing & coaching skills, it’s usually important to also do the work of making friends with your Power Shadow, of bringing it out of the crags where we might judge it or hate on it or be scared of it, and into the light. 

I don’t want you to be scared of your Power, scared that it might hurt others. I want instead for you to trust your Power, for you to know that with awareness, your Power can always be used for good, for the benefit of the world, for the benefit of your clients, AND for your benefit all at once. 

THIS is what will allow you to be willing to be visible.

And it starts with being willing to do the scary thing – to look your Power in the face. All of it. The pretty parts and the not-so-savory parts. We have to be willing to see and name first in order to reclaim in the most aligned ways.

So over the next few days and weeks, I encourage you to get to know that part of yourself, see what’s there, see what’s under the hood…and love on yourself as you do! There is so much gold waiting there for you!

Here’s to placing ethics at the center of our businesses AND being able to thrive and grow in beautiful ways!

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