003: The Humane Marketing Revolution with Sarah Santacroce

Sarah Santacroce

What’s wrong with traditional marketing? This conversation with Sarah Santacroce dives into how to do marketing that is in alignment with you are as opposed to what the “gurus” tell you about how marketing should be done. Discover what the gentle business revolution is all about how urgency techniques and scarcity energy don’t work and what to do instead.

Over a decade of running a successful LinkedIn Consulting business inspired a yearning in Sarah to create a global movement that encourages people to bring more empathy and kindness to business & marketing.

As a ‘Hippie turned Business Coach’, Sarah has written two books, hosts the Humane Marketing podcast and works with heart-centered entrepreneurs to question their assumptions when it comes to marketing & give them permission to market their business their way, the gentle way!

Sarah shares a fresh perspective and doesn’t shy away from calling things out that no longer work for many of us when it comes to the current marketing model. Her clients sometimes refer to her as ‘the female Seth Godin’.

Key Takeaways:

  • How we can bring more empathy to the business world
  • The proof that more humane marketing actually works
  • Sarah’s unique version of the 7 Ps of Marketing

Resources Mentioned:

Where You Can Find Sarah:

📖 Transcript

[00:00:00] Rose Cox: Hey, it’s Rose, and welcome to another episode of The Sensitive CEO Show. In today’s episode, I have the pleasure of talking with Sarah Santacroce. As a hippie turned business coach, Sarah has written two books. She hosts the Humane Marketing podcast, and works with heart centered entrepreneurs to question their assumptions when it comes to marketing and gives them permission to market their business their way, the gentle way.

[00:02:10] So welcome, Sarah. It’s so lovely to talk with you.

[00:02:13] Sarah Santacroce: Thank you Rose. I’m so glad to be back talking to you here on your podcast. Delighted to be here.

[00:02:20] Rose Cox: Thank you. And before we dive into your wonderful topic about the Humane Marketing Revolution, I would love for you to share a little bit about your background.

[00:02:31] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah. Thank you. I used to always tell the business story and now I, that I’ve come full circle, I actually share the personal story first, because for me, that was such a revelation and it has to do with marketing because I feel like I’ve marketed from this place of the prescribed version of who I am supposed to be.

[00:02:56] And now finally with humane marketing, found myself back to who I really was. And yeah, I’m Sarah, Swiss, born and raised, and I grew up in a hippie commune back in the eighties. My parents and friends, they bought an apartment building together and we all had our own separate apartments, but we really shared a lot of the space, a lot of our emotions.

[00:03:26] It was a co-living experience guided by my parents and their friends and then of course, all of the families had kids. So jokingly have two other sisters and brothers who are not from my parents, but we just had so many experiences growing up together. And so really this community living was part of me.

[00:03:50] From starting I was five years old and then finally moved out when I was 18. And I didn’t realize that really shaped how I think. This hippie kind of thinking of we have enough, we need to communicate. We need to resolve conflicts together, all of that really shaped who I am and yet, growing my LinkedIn consulting business, that’s what I first started. I always hit that story. That was nowhere to be found. I was embarrassed to have that growing up story. And so now a few years back, I had this breakdown realizing, okay, there’s something broken with marketing. What am I doing?

[00:04:38] This just all feels wrong. That then led me to finding back to who I really am and how I want to show up in business. How I also think we need to reinvent the business paradigm to create it in a way like I grew up in this co-living experience. I think it’s a collaborating experience with other businesses and our clients.

[00:05:05] So that’s the personal background. As I said, I started a LinkedIn consulting business back in 2006, grew that into a “successful business”. Then had this breakdown on the therapist chair a few years ago when I realized I just can’t do it anymore.

[00:05:27] Something is just so wrong. It always felt like I’m not made for business. This is just too hard. It’s all about competition and cheating each other and, it just didn’t feel good anymore. And that’s when I this epiphany, what we actually need is a gentle business revolution. So I’m going to stop there.

[00:05:50] Rose Cox: I love that background. It really resonates so much because it makes so much sense as to where you are today in your business and the gentle marketing, which I absolutely love and the gentle sales as well.

[00:06:06] Sarah Santacroce: Thank you. Yeah. It’s so funny how, when we are at a certain point, it’s always easy to connect the dots, how we got there, but when you’re in the middle of the journey, you’re like, I don’t know where to go with this. I feel like there’s no way forward.

[00:06:22] I remember talking to the therapist. And I’m like, I just can’t do this anymore. Feels like I’m selling my soul. That’s really what it felt like. A marketer. And yet I feel like what I’m telling people is so wrong that I just can’t do it anymore. So that’s when I realized actually what I need to do is tell people that they can do marketing in alignment with who they are. And so that’s where the gentle marketing came in or now it’s called humane marketing, because it evolved and that’s a whole other story, but today I call it Humane Marketing and it plays with the word human of course. Yes. That’s where the Marketing Like We’re Human, the book title comes in.

[00:07:13] But also the word humane, which gives it this kind compassionate, caring approach. And that’s exactly what I think we need to look at. If we want to we’re talking about using business as a lever for good given the times we live in right now. And I totally agree with that.

[00:07:35] And at the same time, nobody has looked at marketing. And so we need to actually also change marketing if we want to use business as a lever for good.

[00:07:45] Rose Cox: I couldn’t agree more. I know a lot of entrepreneurs really struggle with that side of the business, especially highly sensitive entrepreneurs. What do you think is wrong with traditional marketing Sarah?

[00:08:02] Sarah Santacroce: Where to start? When I first looked into the topic, I had all these conversations with heart centered entrepreneurs and the word that always came up is anxiety. Like they felt anxiety. Being the entrepreneur who has to market their business.

[00:08:20] You shared with me before that, so many people tell you that as well. They’re like, we hate marketing and we love our business, but we hate marketing. And when I dug deeper, it was not just hate. It was giving them anxiety, they felt really anxious about it. And at the same time, they also said they were feeling anxiety when they were being marketed to by other people.

[00:08:45] So if you look at your inbox you look at the emails and things like that, it gave them anxiety to be marketed to in a way where they’re never enough. There’s always lack. There’s always shaming. Oh, you don’t have a six figure business yet, you need this $2,000 course.

[00:09:04] Or look at me, I made a million dollars in 30 days and this is how you can do it.

[00:09:09] So always pointing out the lack and the problem in marketing that creates a huge amount of anxiety, especially for, like you said, sensitive people who just want to do good in the world. And yet they’re like, I can never do what all these other people are doing and I’ll never be good enough.

[00:09:31] So that to me is just so wrong because marketing, if you look at what it’s meant for, it’s meant for communicating to people that you have something to offer that could help them. And that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing.

[00:09:50] If you talk to the right people, you communicate about your passion, your topic of expertise, that doesn’t have to be pushy and convincing and tricking people. Don’t even get me started on on that side of marketing. Where we self promise, things that are not true. So often we see that in marketing that you’re like how can I trust this marketer?

[00:10:19] There’s a huge lack of trust in marketers. So there, the real problem I think, is that we have evolved as humans and marketing hasn’t. Especially in the last two years with the pandemic. Huge amounts of increase in consciousness in people. And especially HSPs right?

[00:10:42] Sensitive to what’s changing. We’re sensitive to energy. We are way more conscious now than five years ago. And on top of that marketing, has not evolved and we’re still seeing marketing out there, like it was 40, 50 years ago. And so there’s this huge gap of how we’re being talked to.

[00:11:07] And we’re basically, Rose, being taken for stupid a lot of the time. And that just doesn’t feel good. Doesn’t this person know that, know that they’re lying and that can’t be true. And so that, yeah, all of that is wrong with the traditional marketing.

[00:11:26] Rose Cox: So many things, I’m sure there’s a lot more as well. How do you suggest we bring more empathy into the marketing, into the business world?

[00:11:37] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah. It’s not difficult for HSPs to have empathy. It comes with trait, I would say. The thing that I noticed though, what was difficult for me is to not follow what everybody else was doing. And frankly, there’s just a lot of examples where the marketing, this is how it works, actually using empathy.

[00:12:04] And so it’s more of a confidence thing for empaths, highly sensitive people to say, I can trust my empathy. I can trust my intuition and I can do it my way. Just to give ourselves that permission to say, I can do it my way and it will work and I don’t have to do all these pushy techniques that don’t feel good to me.

[00:12:28] So in our case, it’s not so much about how do we use more empathy, but it’s like, let me use that empathy that I already have and put that into my marketing. And that has a lot to do with the words we choose, how we communicate. But again, it’s like turning ourselves away from the templates and the big marketing gurus and not following what they’re telling us to do and just following our own intuition. Showing that care in everything we do.

[00:13:03] Rose Cox: Yeah, makes so much sense and it just feels so much better as well, as a business owner.

[00:13:10] Sarah Santacroce: It does. Yeah, it really does. And sometimes people ask me, how do we know that works? I used to counter with, do you think the old way still works? So if the old way still works for you and you sleep well at night and you feel like in integrity, then don’t change then I think you’re not ready for a change, but if that just makes you sick, because not being in integrity can really literally make you sick.

[00:13:46] Then there is basically no other way and you have to change and go with the more humane marketing approach.

[00:13:55] In doing the research for the book, the Marketing Like We’re Human book, I found so many examples that it works it’s a different way. It may be a little bit slower at the beginning, in the book, I mentioned the example of the Chinese bamboo tree. a tree that you nurture and water for sometimes years and nothing happens.

[00:14:21] And then all of a sudden, overnight, basically it grows two meters tall. And so sometimes changing from the pushy not feel good marketing to the feel good marketing can feel a bit like that because you have to really retrain your audience that you’re now doing things differently. Your people will love you so much because they know now that they can really trust you so that I think is this transition.

[00:14:50] Rose Cox: And it just feels so much better from a customer and client point of view, to be marketed to in a more humane, gentle way. It’s just a no brainer that the products or services that you feel intuitive to sign up for because you can feel the energy coming through on the way people market as well can’t you?

[00:15:14] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah. I’m so glad you bring up the energy. It’s all energy and you’re right. If we are in this scarcity energy of, trying to get people to buy using these urgency techniques. Fooling people into buying and cheating and things like that. Then we also attract people who are in the scarcity energy.

[00:15:40] So it becomes this kind of negative thing where your clients will never be happy, first of all you condition them in that way. If you promise something and they’re like, oh yeah, that’s exactly what I need right now. I need 10 new clients by next month.

[00:16:00] And then they sign up for your program and they don’t get 10 clients. You now really have an unhappy client. It’s just like this ripple effect, but in a negative way, and basically you’re not creating a sustainable business because you have to keep hustling to get more of these scarcity type clients. So yeah, energy is everything.

[00:16:24] And people can tell when you really want to help them. And you’re saying, this is for offer. I think this will help you, but it needs to be a good fit for you right now. And if it’s not a good fit right now, then I’m not gonna push you to buy it.

[00:16:43] It needs to be right for you basically. The Selling Like We’re Human book, is all about having these gentle and humane sales conversations. Dare I say, ditch the script. You don’t need a script. You just need to be really having these human conversations. And the goal of such a conversation is not the sale.

[00:17:06] The goal is to find the answer to the question, is this right for you at this time? And so that means being okay to walk away and say, actually, you know what Rose, I don’t think this is what you need right now. And then maybe giving other solutions. Maybe have another solution or maybe someone else in your network, you can point people to, but just coming with that abundance energy.

[00:17:32] I’m not saying it’s easy. It takes some personal work to get there, but it just feels so much better.

[00:17:40] Rose Cox: Definitely. As you mentioned before, if you’re doing it in a way that’s not in alignment, then you will lose sleep. I know that I have trouble sleeping at the best of times. And if someone tries to sell to me in a really incongruous way, it really, it does literally keep me awake at night.

[00:17:59] It feels really icky and deep, dark and heavy.

[00:18:04] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah. . Yeah. You’re so right. I’m thinking of this marketer as a story also in the Marketing, Like We’re Human book and it’s funny, because, it came back. Like we had a bad episode about me putting one of my contacts in touch with him. So that they would do a joint venture together. And then he basically lied to her. He put up a website page that said, this lady has been mentoring. Or I have been mentoring her for ages and it was not true. And so she came to me and said, What a liar I’m not gonna work with this guy.

[00:18:41] And I felt so embarrassed that I was the one to introduce them. And so I told him, look we’re not anything anymore. So I cut the communication. And then just recently he sends me an email saying you’ve been selected to be one of the 20 top marketing coaches and please accept this nomination.

[00:19:05] And then immediately, I knew there was some scheme behind it that I probably then had to promote him or something. I’m like, I don’t even want to know anything about it. Because yeah, immediately it was like this heavy energy. I’m like, oh please. Let’s not go down that path again. Learned it the hard way.

[00:19:27] Rose Cox: Unfortunately these things do come up and test us don’t they, sometimes?

[00:19:33] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah, they do.

[00:19:33] Rose Cox: Difficult, but it’s learning and getting past them and having those boundaries and just sticking by your guns and knowing what you feel is right. But that’s a terrible experience for you to go through, the person you referred to. Oh gosh.

[00:19:50] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah. Of course, whenever these things happen, it involves the ego, right? The ego opening the email saying you’ve been nominated to be one of the top 20 marketing coaches. The ego is oh yeah, I wanna be that person but then the conscious comes in and it’s no, I don’t wanna be associated with this person ever again.

[00:20:13] Rose Cox: So Sarah, I would love for you to share your version of the seven Ps of marketing, which I absolutely love. And I know that you’ve got a one page marketing plan that covers these seven Ps.

[00:20:26] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah, thank you. So when I thought about the marketing and how we needed to overhaul it, reinvent it I knew of course of the original seven Ps or sometimes the four Ps in the training and the books and all of that. And that comes from the sixties. So it’s quite established. And so I looked at these seven Ps and they were presented in different circles, all separate circles. Small circles in a big circle. And to me, all of a sudden they started moving around and putting themselves into a shape of a mandala. I didn’t really that much experience with mandalas, but my mom sometimes colored mandalas.

[00:21:11] And so I started to do a bit of research about the deeper meaning of a mandala I found out it actually is a creative process. So that’s what it means. And I’m like, oh, that is good. Because marketing is exactly that it’s a creative process. If we use our intuition and in our creativity that’s what comes out. So I was like, okay, I’m gonna use a mandala to present these seven Ps. And then I also noticed some of them are really outdated. Physical evidence was one of them and processes was another one. So I was like I need to bring in some more some deeper Ps.

[00:21:54] And so I started with thinking about actually, what really matters is passion or purpose for our business and for our marketing and knowing why we’re passionate about what we’re doing. And so the P of passion came in. And then I thought actually, since I came full circle, I’m really now confident in my marketing.

[00:22:18] So this idea of the personal power. So that’s the second P and that’s really where we find out who we are, how we’re wired introverted, HSP, all these things that we need to know about ourselves so that we can really do marketing from this place of knowing who we are, because if we’re just going out there and thinking, oh, okay this person tells me I have to do a Facebook group, but that’s not where our best energy is, then it’s never gonna work.

[00:22:48] So this idea of personal power and then the third one was people and I realized every marketing program I’ve ever taken, always started with our ideal clients. And so often that’s what didn’t work for me because I created my LinkedIn consulting business with this ideal. Okay. Who’s my ideal client. I knew that ideal client really well, but creating a business around that didn’t really give me joy. And so I was like we need to actually reverse the model and start with ourselves. Hence passion and personal power. And then we’re ready to look at well, who would be a good fit for me and who I am and what I have to offer.

[00:23:33] So that’s why people in my framework comes after we’ve looked at ourselves first. I find that. It feels oh my God, I can really be myself. And that’s where this permission piece comes in. So people comes third and then the other ones are a bit more traditional product, pricing, promotion.

[00:23:56] And then the last one is partnership, which I also brought in in a second edition, actually, because when I thought about the new business paradigm I just realized. It’s gonna be all about collaborating and partnering with others, with our clients, with a higher power, if you will. It’s not doing things alone and in isolation anymore, and not with this mindset of competition, but instead of collaboration. So that’s why the P of partnership came in as well. So yeah, those are the seven Ps and yeah, you’re right. The one page marketing plan that people can get at humane.marketing/one page number one, and then page it comes with the mandala and then seven email prompts to have you think about the Ps for your business. So it’s foundation approach, I sometimes refer to it as the glue for your business. Cause oftentimes you go out there and think, oh, I need more clients. What do I need to learn to get more clients? Okay, I’m gonna go on Instagram and learn how to be on Instagram.

[00:25:05] But if we don’t have this foundation in place, knowing who we are, what we have to offer, our unique value proposition and all of that, then we can waste time and time, years on Instagram without ever getting clients. So that’s what this is.

[00:25:22] Rose Cox: Oh, it’s beautiful. I absolutely love it and I love how you’ve brought the mandala into it and the creativity. It’s just so beautiful. And I’ll pop the link for that wonderful one page marketing plan in your emails into the show notes. And I’m also going to pop the links to your two wonderful books that you’ve written.

[00:25:46] And I know that you have a community as well called the Humane Marketing Circle, and I’m gonna put a link in there because I think that’s such a needed thing to have around the marketing and in the HSP introvert space, I think it’s so important.

[00:26:01] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah, thank you so much for bringing that up. What we’re doing there and again, I’m just really giving myself permission to do it differently. That we have a lot of membership sites where it’s like content based, a lot of videos and templates and checklists you can download I didn’t wanna do that type of community.

[00:26:25] I feel like then we’re going back to same old isolation and kind of guru marketers. And so in the Humane Marketing Circle, we really follow this concept of there’s a leader in each chair. So meaning that all the people who come to the community, they are already an expert in their field.

[00:26:44] And so we’re really sharing from that place. And it’s not me teaching marketing, but it’s us having a conversation about what works in marketing. And that means I’ll share what works for me and other people share what works for them. So people bring questions and then we just each chime in and say, oh I have this experience with Facebook ads or whatever it might be.

[00:27:13] And so we are not just learning from one perspective. Usually that’s the host’s perspective, but we’re learning from all of these people’s perspectives. We really also have human conversations rather than just downloading more e-courses and templates in isolation. So that’s what I’m really trying to build in the humane marketing circle.

[00:27:38] We also started with buddy coaching, so meaning besides monthly calls I encourage to people to also connect with each other, for accountability coaching or whatever to hold each other accountable in between the calls. So it’s not just about being a member of the community, but it is also taking the relationships deeper and further outside of the calls.

[00:28:07] Rose Cox: It sounds absolutely amazing, Sarah, what you’ve created there and you’re definitely bringing in the seventh P of partnership into that circle too.

[00:28:17] Sarah Santacroce: Thank you.

[00:28:18] Rose Cox: Before we wrap up, I have one last question that I ask all of my guests. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

[00:28:28] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah. I would say two things. Either I go outside for a walk, which I do anyway most days or I found this new, beautiful Yoga Nidra video that I just love. I dunno if Yoga Nidra?

[00:28:47] Rose Cox: Yes, I do. I do it quite regularly too. I’ve got one that I’ve got and she’s got such a gentle voice. I think it’s the gentleness that helps as well isn’t it?

[00:28:58] Sarah Santacroce: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s just yeah, a beautiful rest and then I come back out and okay, I can handle anything now.

[00:29:07] Rose Cox: Wonderful. Oh, I’ve loved our conversation today, Sarah, and could have talked for such a long time with you. I might have to invite you back to be a guest at a future time.

[00:29:20] Sarah Santacroce: Would love that. Thank you, Rose.

[00:29:22] Rose Cox: Thank you, Sarah.

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