All marketers are prophets. Most don't seem to know it. If they did, they would wield their power more carefully, more precisely, and more (forgive me the pun) profitably.
Let's start with this: there are two kinds of prophecy…
- Fore-telling is prophecy predicting the future.
- Forth-telling is prophecy creating the future.
I believe forth-telling is the more powerful of the two. Here's why: it is literally a process of using your mind, your will, and your emotions to peer into the future and see the possible outcomes. It is to use your mind, will, and emotions to peer into another person and see the potential that lies inside of them.
The act of prophecy, then, is to pick the best of those futures, and the best that is within that person, and combine them into a tangible vision… and speak that vision to them. To cast the vision, if you will, so that the other person can see it.
Prophecy is the act of excavating the gold that lies buried within each person, and showing them how they can take possession of it.
“Gold” in this context does not represent only material wealth (though that is a part of it). It represents prosperity in every sense of the word: wealth, health, relationships, contribution, service, purpose, mission, vision.
You: Marketplace Prophet?
It is my proposal that marketers, and in particular copywriters, are the modern day prophets of the marketplace. This holds true whether we are speaking of the marketplace of commerce, or the marketplace of ideas. Those who are most successful as marketers and copywriters are those who can cast a vision in words and images that compels people to work for a vital, positive, and better future.
Some may believe I'm engaging in hyperbole when I call copywriters “prophets”. I do not believe there is one ounce of hyperbole in this assertion.
Here are three reasons why I believe that being a copywriter (and by extension a marketer, salesperson, and entrepreneur) is a noble and high calling, and affords us the opportunity to change the world for the better:
- Our words hold the power of life and death. This is not only the contention of the Judeo-Christian scriptures, but also of modern neurological science. The words we speak (and at their root, the thoughts we think) have a direct effect on our brain chemistry. Our brain chemistry has a direct effect on our behavior. Our behavior certainly is the most obvious controller of our destiny. If we speak words of life, the result is positive action, wholesome thinking, ethical business, and high levels of contribution. If we speak words of death, the result is negative retreat, isolation, addiction and compulsion, unethical business and political practices, and deep levels of greed and dishonesty. Let us choose to speak words of life. Let us write truthful, positive copy and ads!
- The quality of our business and our products will never exceed the quality of our communication. If we are representing or selling a product or service that we truly know will change the lives of those who need it for the better, our communication should be handled elegantly and skillfully. It should be pursued at a level of mastery so that no person who is in need of what we have to offer will ever go without it because of our lack of ability to communicate well. Marketing and copywriting are acts of change: they are designed to change beliefs, and thus to change behaviors. This is why it's so important to only represent and sell products and services we absolutely have a strong belief in, and that we are proud to be associated with.
- At its core essence, copywriting is prophecy. As copywriters, what are we doing if not peering into the future, and into the heart of the person to whom we are writing, and showing them that there is a better way to solve the problems they face? What are we doing if not seeking to demonstrate to them that we are offering something of value that will render them more in return for their money than they are expending? And what is great copy, other than the ability to tell a story about the future, that casts a vision of how life can be better for all parties involved?
When you think about our work as marketers in this light, there is the possibility that it can seem like a burden. That perhaps these ideals are so lofty that they weigh us down with more responsibility than we want. I believe that is only a surface reaction, one that is not derived from our deeply thinking through these matters.
Your Business Is A Noble Calling
If we do consider them deeply, and in sustained ways, we will realize that as children we dreamed big dreams for what we would do when we “grew up”. Though we may feel that growing up means we leave behind our childhood dreams of becoming superheroes, astronauts, firefighters, and grand adventurers… this is not the case.
In fact, we have our opportunity to be heroic, to protect and serve, to explore and discover, right before us in our own entrepreneurial businesses and practices. You may not think of yourself as something so mystical or grand as a “prophet”.
You may prefer to think of yourself as a soldier, or a king, or a merchant. The greatest kings in our history were in fact all of these things, but their reign, those who reigned righteously for the benefit of their people, was always powered by the prophetic vision of how the future could be improved.
Steve Jobs is a modern-day example of the Prophet-King in the marketplace. Yes, he had his flaws, as do all human beings. But far outweighing his flaws were the prophetic vision he had of the difference his company and products could make; the vision he had of what his people were capable of; the vision he had of the intelligence and appreciation that the general public would hold for devices that were beautiful as well as functional. Arguably, he made life better for many people on the face of this planet. He created wealth for many employees of his company, and for those who buit entire industries based around his products and services. And he was, above all things, a master marketer. A grand storyteller. A copywriter.
My challenge to you is to see your business, your professional practice, your craft, as it really is: an opportunity to bring blessing to the world around you, to benefit all those you touch, and have them give you tokens of their appreciation (also known as money) in exchange for what you have done for them.
To paraphrase from the book of Deuteronomy, this is not too hard for you to do. It is within your grasp, and it is not far off. Now go, and bring life and prosperity to every place you visit and every person you touch.