Sonder | What marketers can learn from self-help
The self-help industry has helped a lot of people, but can the same principles be applied to brands? Here's a few lessons that marketers could apply to brands.
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What marketers can learn from self-help

What marketers can learn from self-help

Whilst it’s easy to occasionally poke fun at the self-help industry, it is now worth upwards of $12bn in the US alone. People who buy into the category are often repeat purchasers, buying multiple products and services – sometimes referred to as therapy-junkies.

It’s a burgeoning industry, however, the most poignant thing about “self-help” is the idea of self.  Of finding the answers within, of being able to value what’s on the inside more than all the noise and temptation on the outside. So, how can marketers apply self-help to brands and commerce?

Here’s 5 things brands can learn from self-help:

  1. Look inside for growth and communicate from the inside-out, using the tools and media assets you have already.
  2. Listen to the voice inside. Which is akin to listening to your customers, understanding them to the point of predicting their needs through data.
  3. Action comes before strategy. There’s no point trying to strategise your way out of feeling bad.  Do something first that changes you physiologically, then address the strategy. Sometimes, brands just need to do something – anything. A promotion, a new campaign, an old campaign, a study, a brand revamp… then develop the strategies.  Sounds like the opposite of good, sound business process? Check out psychologist William James’ story here.
  4. Be brutally truthful with yourself. What’s your website experience really like? Be honest.  What’s the reality of the customer service experience? Just how good is your in-store merchandise? What do people really think of your brand? The challenge with questions like these is that people, generally, won’t tell you what they really think, so you need to find out for yourself and trust your gut.
  5. Change expectations to gratitude. Take some time to recognise you’re already making gains. Be grateful for the customers you have – you’ll treat them better and they will reward you by sharing their experiences with others. This is possibly the hardest of the five.


For marketers, regardless of attitudes towards self-help, there are opportunities to apply some of the principles of personal self-help to commercial self-help. If nothing else, it can give you another lens to view your world.