A Buddhist temple in Tucson, Arizona sent me an email. Its planned paid program on the teachings of Pema Chodron was being cancelled. Only one person had signed up.
Sure we were going to swing by for its free meditation/discussion workshops. But ponying up the bucks? The promotions didn't cite positive outcomes experienced by previous students or what we could expect.
Another type of spiritual center in AZ had a decline in attendees for its paid weekly seminars on whatever.
A former client has shifted from writing books on spirituality to providing programs on subjects such as compassion. Bookings are fewer and fewer.
In business terms, you would describe this as a guru glut. At one time, before mindfulness went mainstream, the demand was huge for those in the inner-peace niche. Now they are everywhere.
To survive and perhaps even thrive, gurus have to rebrand themselves. The message has to be about results. Their websites, blogs, tweets, Facebook pages, e-books, traditional books, newsletters, podcasts, webinars, and interviews with media should hammer what clients have taken away from the experience. Then, they should explain in detail potential outcomes for prospects.
Yes, gurus should also cite recent research on the health and cognitive benefits of their particular approach. They should do their own surveys. That can be free on Survey Monkey. There should be case studies. Testimonials. Embedded tweets and retweets.
Contests? Why not. One could be for the best phrase as an alternate for "inner peace." The prize can be a free tutorial with the guru.