Marketing Redefined

Marketing feels yucky.



We are surrounded by yucky feeling marketing.

The loads of spam messages in our inbox. The facebook page that posts promotion after promotion. The sales lady who shoves a clipboard in our face so you can give her your email address for “secret sales” emails that you never really wanted but you take the clipboard and write down a pretend email address just to get her out from in front of that cute black dress you wanted to see up close after you saw it in the window while walking down the street with your decaf soy latte. We’ve all given out fake email addresses, am I right?

And as a helping, healing professional, it’s easy to experience this yucky marketing we’re constantly bombarded with and want nothing to do with it.

Most psychotherapists are highly compassionate people. They are in the business of helping as they care deeply about easing the suffering of others. There’s a huge contrast between the compassion you show towards your clients in your practice and the marketing practices that surround us that seem aimed at getting a sale even if it’s at the expense of the buyer.

What exactly makes marketing feel so yucky?

  • Manipulative – marketing that uses scheming and various unscrupulous influences. Like those corporations that pour 8 million dollars a minute into figuring out the psychology of it’s buyers so they can hypnotize everyone into purchasing more of their sneakers.
  • Dishonest – marketing that is concerned only about selling in high numbers rather than selling to the people that would actually benefit from the product or service. Ever get conned into buying something you don’t need? THAT is dishonest marketing.
  • Intrusive – marketing that violates personal space and personal time. Example: companies texting you ads on your phone. No I don’t want to have my purse vibrate every 5 minutes with the latest department store sale notifications, thanks.
  • Profit minded – Marketing that is concerned with profit above spiritual, environmental, and social values. Many times, these products or services may even be damaging to humanity. That car company isn’t going to be the one to tell you not to buy their Gas Guzzler 3000 and opt for a bicycle. They want to make money even if at the cost of the environment.
  • Desperate – this type of marketing is the marketing that is obviously scrambling to make a sale, the deals are too good to be true, the products or services are too available. Desperation for a sale is uncomfortable.

Marketing redefined

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. – The American Marketing Association

Nowhere in the textbooks does it say, “marketing is lying in order to sell your services” or “marketing is screwing over society so that you can sell your book”. Although many people have decided to “market” products or services in these types of ways, it doesn’t mean you have to. It doesn’t mean that marketing is yucky in and of itself.

The reality is that therapists can only help others if they are able to connect to them.

Selling yourself doesn’t have to be pushy. In fact, people are becoming increasingly sensitive to those types of tactics. We want trustworthy and authentic, not slimey and salesy.

The great news is twofold:

  1. When you’re being your authentic self, you’re not a slimey salesperson.
  2. And being your authentic self is what will help you attract clients.

So in other words, being yourself is the best “marketing tactic” out there. Figure out what you do best and who can benefit from what you do. Then offer these services or products to those who can benefit from them. To put it more succinctly:

Marketing yourself means offering the solutions you can provide to the people that need them by the person you truly are.

Who are you to keep all of your healing gifts from the people that need them most? It should be illegal for you to NOT let the world know what you can offer.

Selling yourself also means making it possible to be found by the people that could benefit from your services. Are you able to be found by those that are seeking your help? These are the people that would live better, healthier, more integrated lives if you are able to reach them.

Don’t feel bad for a second that you’re being selfish by promoting your skills. You have the skills of a helper and this world needs more help.

Reversing the list

Un-yuckification of what we feel marketing is like (and how to approach marketing!):

  • Authentic instead of manipulative – be who you really are, no tricks.
  • Honest instead of dishonest – be truthful about who you can really help.
  • Unobtrusive instead of intrusive – attract attention but not in a bothersome way.
  • Human-minded instead of profit-minded – this is a natural for psychotherapists! Focus your marketing on helping others instead of making a buck.
  • Calm instead of desperate – marketing should be cool and calm. A peaceful therapist is a desirable one.


We are surrounded by yucky feeling marketing. Instead of accepting the yuck as what marketing is like, I suggest we redefine marketing for ourselves. I suggest we redefine marketing as an act of sharing ourselves, an act of generosity, an act of reaching out and finding those that need us.

Let us be authentic, honest, unobtrustive, human-minded, and calm. And I think we’ll do alright.

I’m still learning about marketing. There’s such a thing called “ethical marketing” which I’d love to know more about. Is that the term I ought to be using here?

Many may think that the term “marketing” is too far gone to be saved. Perhaps we ought to let go of the term and come up with a new one. But there are actually some marketing strategies out there that aren’t yucky and that would fit in with any helping professional’s ethics.

What do you think? Can marketing be redefined? Or should offering solutions to those that need them have it’s own term? Let me know by contacting me or tweeting me anytime. I would love to hear from you.

Photo by Jake Givens.

Kat Love

Hi, I'm Kat! Therapists helped me heal from childhood sexual abuse, so I helped them with websites and marketing for around 5 years. You can still write your therapist website in the easiest way possible with my easy, fast, and affordable solution called Empathycopy. Or stick around here on the Empathysites blog to get your fill of helpful website and digital marketing insights for therapists. Happy to help. Pronouns: they/them/their