Marketing Karma

Even though Karma is a vast ocean of truth, at the core of life for everyone, I’m writing this rather narrow take, from a Marketer’s perspective given this “discovery” happened while performing this function for more than 16 out of the 18 years I’ve journeyed around the Sun.

The word Karma is derived another Sanskrit word “kri” – meaning “to do”, thus all work or action is Karma. We must always work, we cannot live a minute without doing something!

Everything we do, mental or physical, is Karma and it leaves its effcct on us.

Lesson 1 – Karma in its effect on Character

Collectively this effect is called Character. Past actions cause us to be where we are today while present actions serve as cause for the future – a cycle of cause and sequence.

This “Flywheel of Causality” (as my dear friend Scott Brinker calls it!) defines effects of our actions.

The Character of the Marketer has the most important impact on an Organization’s “soul” because a good Marketer can “create new markets” which will lead every other function to build on the narrative to drive business. But…

There cannot be work without any motive.

A Marketer’s motive is to do the best he can and sell his Organization’s Brand to consumers. Invariably, at the start of any Brand’s journey, there is a bit if truth and a whole lot of fluff. Fair to say that every small Brand would like to “project” itself as being a lot bigger/ better than it really is, hoping to buy the trust of paying consumers and kickstart its growth journey. We call this “Brand Promise” in Marketing terms and the Karmic Wheel turns.

Let’s examine the effect of this “campaign” on the Marketer. She/ He knows the truth, the reality of the Brand Experience BUT chooses to tell a story. How FAR this story is from the truth and for how long, determines, not only the Character of the Marketer, but also that of the Organization, shaping its soul for time to come.

Raising the job to a higher level comes with a sense of duty, don’t you agree?

We feel a sense of purpose when a certain task is done as a duty

A mother caring for a child, being the most exalted example of unselfish, truthful and loving duty. (Pardon me if I may be demeaning this by calling it a duty!).

These three words, Love, Truth and Unselfishness, are not merely moral figures of speech but they form our highest ideal, because in them lies a tremendous manifestation of power.

Lesson 2 – The Secret of Work

We touched upon the “truth-gap” aspect earlier – the space between the reality, the absolute truth about what the Brand is capable of giving, versus, the story sold by the Marketer. It is not easy at all, to be mindful of this gap, all the time, during every small action. It is even more difficult to separate this selfish motive from work. But there lies the ultimate secret – the ultimate ideal for work.

Suspending selfish-motive, tearing oneself away from the attachment to results and just speaking the truth, without fear of repurcussions – our very own Dr B.M. Hegde personifies this Karmic journey like none else.

As Marketers, it’s fair to say that we shoulder far lesser moral responsibility than a renowned Cardioligist does. However, we underestimate the power of truthful marketing because there are umpteen examples of it working like a dreamSuch self-restraint is the manifestation of greater power than all of the intelligences and outgoing action! This self-control produces a mighty will and a heart filled with more Love. Guess who gains?

Empathising with the paying consumer from the purest, unselfish corner of one’s heart, brings forth such Truthful and Honest Communication that it builds lasting bonds. A seemingly daunting matrix like Social Media also rewards such Karma. Consumers experience what they expected to experience. Truth meets truth, love meets love, unselfishness meets unselfishness. The Marketer displays a certain palpable love that is reciprocated with even loyal love and the Wheel turns… no wonder then that the Flywheel Killed Hubspot’s Funnel!

Lesson 3 – No Shortcuts

There is no shortcut to Good Karma. The Marketer must do the work and find out the motive power that prompts her/him. Most times, in the initial years, we’ll find that our motive is a selfish one – to grow the business and self-worth (name & fame), fueled by the deep “attachment to results”. In fact non-attachment can happen ONLY with removing the “Self” from action (one wonderful side-effect is mindfulness at work, explained beautifuly by Scott in his wonderful post on Mindfulness in Martech). This self-abnegation (as Swami Vivekananda calls it) is antithesis to everything Marketing stands for – be seen, heard, followed, liked, shared, recommended etc (nonetheless, here’s an alternate perspective by my dear friend Karthik Srinivasan!) -Yeah, yeah, I am well aware of the irony in posting this on a Social Channel, expecting views and responses 🙂

Anyway, this implementation of selfish-motive comes at the cost of the Consumer’s experience, the Brand’s Value and more alarmingly, at the cost of one’s own joy, equanimity and self-worth! Is it really worth it? Nope. If you think this through, actually, unselfishness is the more paying option. Only we don’t have the patience for it. Together with Truth and Love, it produces a mighty will that has the power to transform the world.

Can we then deduce that, as Marketers, our duty to others, read employers and paying Consumers, means helping them, doing good to them and the world? Nope.

Actually, it is THEY who’re giving us an opportunity to do good to ourselves.

Every thought, every action that we perform is in reality a favour done to the self, on the path to freedom. Brands have come and gone, marketers have come and gone, yet the Wheel of Karma moves on relentlessly. It does not need our help. Having the opportunity to do the right, truthful thing, unselfishly and with love, at work, is a Blessing we have been given for our own good. Let’s Cherish it!

Inspired parts of this article are but a pale shadow of the divine light of knowledge on the Four Yogas, by His Holiness Swami Vivekananda, to whom I bow in humble reverence. His golden words shed light on the fuzzy lessons I learnt.