In bold type were the instructions, "No new-age, no platitudes about inner growth, journey, consciousness." Instead, just as if I were selling a traditional product or service, I had to hammer benefits such as making careers more successful, reducing insomnia and boosting concentration.
No question, there is still growing demand for spirituality services. The iniital "free" session or lecture at a nonprofit or profit will be packed. Rarely, though, will those shoppers return. They have so much choice and at the price point they are willing to go for. The tension among spirituality providers has become palpable.
What players in the niche have to do is what all marketers of mature whatevers have to do: Position and package the services and products aligned with demand. That includes:
Configuring what customers want and describing the format in some detail. This week I ponied up a fee for a session on forgiveness. That's what I wanted. So, the provider was half there in attracting me as a "regular." The other half lost me. Instead of a presentation by experts with brief discussion at the end was a recounting of personal anecdotes by attendees with whom I had nothing in common.
Capturing and communicating concrete benefits. When looking around for assistance with transition, I will go with the organization which cites predictable outcomes like "fewer mistakes in choosing new acquaintances," "surviving initial lack of intimacy," "pacing the first 90 days," "not being penny wise and pound foolish" and "assessing free community resources."
Borrowing best practices from business. Commerce is America's gigantic success story. Its language, methodologies and measurement systems are all out there to analyze and integrate into any other kind of venture, including non-profit and religious. People are used to business. They feel a comforting sense of familarity when the vendor talks and walks that way.
There will always be spiritual pilgrims. The number tends to surge during changing times. However, we have been burnt by gurus, shamans, wellness experts and psychics who don't understand how to operate a service in a, well, business-like manner.
Prediction: Many of the current spirituality providers won't be around in two or three years. Smart pragmatists will replace them.