The Eightfold Path to Marketing Nirvana

April 4, 2012 •

What can Buddhism possibly have to do with marketing? After over 30 years in marketing, and 50 years on this planet, I have found one universal theme among human beings; we all view the world through our own set of eyes. As obvious as this may seem, it requires great discipline to go beyond the self to understand others, develop relationships, and yes…be a great marketer.

Totally unrelated to my professional life, I was introduced to Buddhism by my youngest son. I quickly realized that the principals of Buddhism align with my professional life. This understanding made me wonder: what would a “Buddha Marketer” be?

Here’s where I started: One of the cornerstones of Buddhism is the “Eightfold Path.” It is a guideline to ethical conduct. Below, I attempt to connect these individual principals to marketing. As you read, remember that the below points may seem to be individual steps, but in fact, they are interdependent principles that should be seen in relationship with one another.

1. Right View

Buddhism: Right view simply means to see and understand things as they really are.

Marketing: The Buddha Marketer takes time to see the world from the customer’s point of view and clearly understand their needs and wants.

2. Right Intention

Buddhism: Right intention is a commitment to ethical actions to produce a desired outcome.

Marketing: The Buddha Marketer delivers with complete integrity and the best interests of the customer in mind.

3. Right Speech

Buddhism: Right speech involves telling the truth and speaking in a friendly, warm, and gentle way.

Marketing: Communication according to the principals of “right speech” is indeed the hallmark of righteous marketing and the building of long term customer relationships. The Buddha Marketer understands that communicating truth in a way that connects with the hearts and minds of consumers delivers positive reactions.

4. Right Action

Buddhism:  Right action refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. It means to respect the belongings of others, and act kindly, compassionately, and honestly.

Marketing: Going beyond the initial delivery of a marketing message, the Buddha Marketer realizes that the way a business conducts itself is an important aspect of marketing. When customers are treated well, they become loyal and refer others to the business through word of mouth. Online social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Google+ have taken word of mouth to new heights, making a dedication to superb customer service that much more important.

5. Right Livelihood

Buddhism: Right livelihood means that one should earn one’s living in a righteous way and that wealth should be gained legally and peacefully.

Marketing: The Buddha Marketer is concerned about company ethics and the behavior of everyone in the company. A company’s culture and mission are the foundation of the company’s brand.

6. Right Effort

Buddhism: Mental energy is the force behind right effort. Wholesome energy fuels self-discipline, honesty, benevolence, and kindness.

Marketing: By incorporating positive mental energy into marketing activities, the Buddha Marketer positions the company as trustworthy, resulting in a growing base of loyal long-term customers.

7. Right Mindfulness

Buddhism: Right mindfulness is the mental ability to see things as they are instead of interpreting them in relation to other thoughts and experiences.

Marketing: The Buddha Marketer is able to leave bias behind and truly get into the mind of consumers.

8. Right Concentration

Buddhism:  Concentration is described as singular focus, meaning a state where all mental faculties are unified and directed onto one particular object.

Marketing: The Buddha Marketer concentrates focus on its customers, because continuous observation and research leads to the best possible understanding of consumer behavior.

Conclusion

Creative marketers embrace the expression “thinking outside the box.” This ideal has produced numerous witty communications in the field of advertising and marketing. “Outside the box” messages command attention and may even deliver results if consumers can actually remember which clever communications connect with which company.

The Buddha Marketer has a different favorite expression, which is “thinking outside of the self.” A Buddha Marketer approaches communications with an “outside-in” perspective, conducting research to determine what people want and what motivates consumers to become loyal customers.

The more marketers know about what people want and why they make buying decisions, the better equipped they are to influence those decisions through brand positioning and communications. Serving customers in a righteous way with their interests at heart will build a loyal following and a successful long-term business.

 

About the Author

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

  • Scott Paton

    I’ve always believed that the most basic distillation of Buddhist principles are manifested in the concept by which many of us were raised– “The Golden Rule.”  In business, as in life, if our actions are honestly dedicated to enriching, empowering or improving the disposition of others, therein lies the true reward.  If the enterprise at hand achieves greater success as the result of our efforts, wonderful.  If not, at least there’s some solace in knowing that we’ve done our best.

  • Michael Teitelbaum

    Thanks for your feedback Scott.  I agree that doing good is its own reward.

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