Posted: 1 Feb 2017
Mindfulness: Is it just the latest healthy-living 'buzzword' designed to sell books, or is there a little more to it?
In today's digital world, where things move at a frantic pace and marketers have numerous channels through which to talk to consumers – who often expect an instant response – taking the time to pause and reflect often seems impossible. But in fact, it could be the key to success.
Let's take a closer look at what mindfulness means, and how becoming more mindful could improve your marketing efforts...
Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and acknowledging your thoughts, feelings and reactions. It's about paying attention to the here and now in a way that is deliberate, reflective and non-judgmental; a moment of quiet in an increasingly loud world.
While the concept itself is nothing new – Buddhist monks have been practicing this type of meditation for thousands of years – mindfulness has recently become mainstream in the UK, and mental health experts are waxing lyrical about its benefits. When used as a personal wellbeing tool, the NHS claims that it "can help us to enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better."
By realising how we become entangled in our own stream of consciousness, we can step back from our thoughts and train ourselves to not be controlled by them. This can help people to manage negative and unhelpful thoughts, develop more helpful responses to difficult feelings and events, and reduce their levels of stress and anxiety.
If mindfulness can be used to help us understand ourselves better, then surely it can be used to help us understand our customers better, too? Correct!
The true skill of marketing lies in observing the world around you, identifying problems and frustrations that people may have, and communicating the solution that your product or service provides. So, by better understanding your target audience's thoughts, feelings and motivations, you can build more engaging and useful marketing campaigns.
You move away from pigeon-holing your customers and making rash judgements about what you think they need, towards creating more meaningful brand-consumer relationships. Unlike mindfulness itself, mindfulness in marketing is a relatively new concept. Today's consumers are looking for more genuine and authentic experiences with brands, so it represents a valuable opportunity to gain insights about your customer base, and use this information to connect with them on a deeper level.
Mindfulness can help you deliver on some of 2017's biggest marketing trends, such as:
As we've touched on, the modern consumer craves authenticity. This is partly why they prefer the opinions of 'real people' – ie. bloggers, influencers and reviewers – over branded content. This means you can't just jump on the mindfulness bandwagon and shoehorn it into your marketing strategy. Think about how mindfulness relates to your brand, then find a way to join the discussion that's both authentic and relevant – otherwise, you risk putting people off and becoming one of the distractions that the movement tries to avoid.
Nobody's perfect and nobody wants to be preached to, so try to avoid lecturing your audience about what they're doing wrong. Remember that mindfulness stems from a place of peace, calm and consideration; so instead of making your customers feel bad about themselves, acknowledge how important mindfulness is to them and find ways to encourage them to incorporate it into their lives. Empathy will also help you to see things from their perspective, leading to more engaging and effective campaigns.
Mindfulness isn't just about meditation, yoga or 'ohhhms' and 'ahhhhs'. People are looking for specific ways to apply it to their lives, from mindful eating to 'slow' parenting. Think about how your brand could help them to become more mindful in those moments, through the interactions and experiences you create. Look beyond superficial transactions to forming connections that benefit the consumer in real terms – this will lead to short-term engagement and long-term customer loyalty.
You may decide not to actually use the term 'mindfulness' in branded communications and content; but that doesn't mean you can't embrace the philosophy behind it and operate in a more mindful way. By phasing out the distractions and focusing on what matters, you will become more aligned with your purpose and with the needs of your customer, meaning that your marketing decisions are more likely to resonate and make an impact.