This is a sales page and a long one.
I believe in showing your work and celebrating our lineage, so I annotated the hell out of it
Feminist Marketing School is 10 months of marketing + leadership development that meets three times a week
so it involves a significant commitment of time, focus, energy and money2.
Payment plans are wildly available
(and carefully thought out)3
1 Hi! This is where you’ll see my margin notes.
2 It’s $5,000 USD
3 A few women’s empowerment programs routinely charge an extra 20-30% for payment plans. It may be legal, but a differential of that magnitude strikes me as exploitative. It would be a tough to argue a tactic like that belongs in a feminist business. At the same time, I’m not suggesting there should be no differential at all. I charge extra for payment plans and here’s why: because in my client practice, across the years, the numbers show me that there is a higher risk of payment default in my extended fee schedules. I’ve worked my historical business numbers and landed on the figure of 9%, which is also fairly consistent with credit card rates of interest. Other entrepreneurs I know have worked their numbers and landed between 8-12% based on their actual costs and risks. To recap: in order for us NOT to exploit our clients — and so that I don’t exploit you — I’m urging conscious entrepreneurs to set rates for accessing payment plans based on our actual costs and risk rather than a predatory “whatever I can get” amount.
Feminist Marketing School is specifically designed for radical entrepreneurs, culture-makers, and ambitious intersectional feminists
who know from direct experience that our political commitments require us
to continually confront, unpack and account
for the impact of our social conditioning
(which is often personally gruelling yet liberating)
and who commit to taking this on as a personal responsibility
in Feminist Marketing School.
Because it seemed way too obvious, I tried for weeks to write this
damn thing without swearing. And fucking failed.
No matter. I believe in imperfect action, always.
We are entrepreneurs, artists, coaches and consultants and our main audience is women, femmes and non-binary folks.
We sell to them, yes; but we don’t sell them out.
We don’t sell ourselves out, either.
We realize that sometimes we hesitate to promote ourselves and our businesses because of sexist cultural conditioning to stay small and play small.
That, we resist.
We unlearn. We get visible. We shine.
We’re also aware, however, that sometimes we hesitate to use conventional “six figure” or “seven figure” marketing formulas x: because the triggers and tactics baked into these models are politically problematic.
Some specific techniques are manipulative and predatory and they have negative impacts on our clients and communities.
That, we refuse.
We don’t play that rigged game. We seek out, try out and INVENT alternatives and share the results of our experiments, successes and failures with each other.
We choose continuous, incremental, iterative and sometimes slow growth over get-rich-quick fixes…but we’re not adverse to big impact and sweet success.
(We say YESSSS to big impact and sweet success.)
We believe in cultivating influence; we believe in culture-making and paradigm-shifting; we believe we can and will build thriving enterprises; we believe in audacious ambition and personal skill-building and we believe we are better together.
So yes, we will rise together.
Hi, I’m Kelly Diels
I’m a culture-maker and
a feminist marketing consultant.
Across the last decade, I’ve provided marketing training to hundreds of online entrepreneurs in courses, masterminds and 1:1 engagements. I’ve also written a LOT about how the mainstream, online sales tactics and blueprints normalized by ‘The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand’ are not good for women, marginalized peoples or the collective future we’re inventing, together.
And yes, naming and resisting a cultural force like this does creates a dilemma for ambitious feminists and culture-making entrepreneurs.
These marketing and business-building formulas — the ones we’re identifying as oppressive and problematic — are the norm.
These teachings and tactics are the equipment. This is how and where we learn the mechanics of marketing.
And yes, as culture-makers and ambitious radicals and conscious entrepreneurs we absolutely need to develop these business chops.
We absolutely need to build out marketing and sales structures.
We need to learn these skills.
They are essential to our rise.
Yet nearly all of the teachers and programs offering these essential skills — skills that we do indeed need – are themselves not equipped with systemic, structural analyses. They are wedded to neoliberal and postfeminist worldviews. As a result, they’re oblivious – or unconcerned – to how their formulas require us to:
- leverage oppressive norms in their imagery and narratives
- use social privilege to manufacture authority over other women
- embed strategies, tactics and triggers in our marketing and sales funnels that reinforce injustice
So then we have a choice: we can either sheer off or suppress our feminist principles and use the success strategies of Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brands order to build audience and revenue…
…or we can forgo influence and sales in order to stay consistent with our political commitments.
To me, this is a choice between fighting back
or fighting back tears.
In other words, that is no choice, at all.
And fuck both those roads. We are the culture makers. We can make a new one.
That’s what Feminist Marketing School is about.
Feminist Marketing School is a live, 10 month Marketing + Leadership Training program in a hybrid lecture and mastermind format.
Together, a large class of leaders, entrepreneurs, and culture-makers will move through the program but meet and work in more intimate mastermind cohorts (called ‘incubators’) of 20- 25 people.
Feminist Marketing School STARTS with your personal political commitments and builds your audience and sales strategies around them. It takes your principles as a given, not an option.
In addition to being non-negotiable, your cultural goals can be a endlessly renewable source of personal fuel and power. Your commitments are an asset, not a liability. They can actually help you in your campaigns and business building.
In this approach, your entire marketing and business infrastructure is founded on your commitments rather than at odds with them.
I want culture-makers and paradigm-shifters and radicals and big-dreamers and do-gooders to be equipped with the marketing strategies and develop the infrastructure we need to articulate a bold message, sell our wares and consolidate significant cultural influence…
…without using the oppressive, dehumanizing tactics taught in most marketing sequences.
And indeed I want us to do more than just to avoid doing harm.
I want us to personally thrive —
and as a collective, I want us to amass huge influence
so we can bend this culture of ours towards justice.
To do that, we need
marketing strategies, tactics and tools.
We need to build dedicated, non-negotiable time into our weekly schedules (study blocks) to do our business development work rather than intending to do it off the side of our desk, whenever we have time.
(Because who are we kidding? There’s never time.)
We need emotional support, self-care and community care because it’s often the case that our internalized oppression gets activated, big time, whenever we set out to violate social expectations4.
4 I’m influenced by conversations I’ve had with Jo Casey, here
And when we’re getting visible, we’re violating the social mandate that we are seen and not heard. When we’re getting paid, we’re violating the social mandate the we’re here to offer our labour to advance the missions of others. When we’re doing justice work while refusing to be materially deprived, we’re violating the sacrifice conditioning built into marginalized peoples.
These things come up – hard – when we break the social contract.
And we are here to break that oppressive social contract.
So we need to galvanize and inspire each other by being in close contact with each other and meeting frequently so we can stay fortified.
We need to share our experiments and innovations with each other so that our good ideas spread through our radical collective and we get more momentum, together.
And that’s what we’re going to work on in Feminist Marketing School.
Feminist Marketing School is 10 months of real-time marketing & leadership training for ambitious intersectional entrepreneurs and culture-makers.
All of the trainings are feminist, first.
You start with your feminist commitments and then build out your marketing infrastructure around those principles… rather than being asked to ignore them in order to rise.
Here’s how the teaching is organized:
A kickoff 5-day Online Intensive
reviewing the roots of online marketing and identifying the relationship between the tactics in these formulas and our unjust culture… so we can do it differently
3x 90 minute teachings
each development month via Zoom with Kelly Diels on feminist marketing, culture-making, leadership, and cultivating and stewarding your influence + power
3x 90 minute weekly meetings
via Zoom each development month with your incubator to apply the teachings to your own business and vision
3x 90 minute weekly Study Blocks
via Zoom each development month already built into your schedule to do your development work so that it doesn’t happen off the side of your desk (or not at all). This is focused, prescheduled, devoted time to do what your business needs: think, read, write your copy, make your images, do your research, design your programs.
each month so you can metabolize what you’re taking in and turn it into energy and power and so you can rest.5
A Digital Community
hosted on Mighty Network (not Facebook!) so you can get fortified and galvanized and so we can share our good ideas, failures and experiments with each other. This is how innovation happens… and how we care for each other so we can keep going.
1:1 Somatic Therapist Support Session
When marginalized peoples and counterculturals strive to get visible, get powerful, develop resources and revenue, and cultivate influence and power we are literally violating the social contract. We’re supposed to be the uncompensated support workers, not leaders and culture-makers and bread-winners. To develop these (dangerous) capacities, we have to violate our social conditioning 6.
So it’s predictable, when we seek to become leaders, entrepreneurs and culture-makers, that we’ll be violating our conditioning and need to unravel it. It’s totally normal that this kind of psychic pain comes up. So it may happen that you feel particularly stuck or fraught around one particular issue or project, which is I wanted to make sure you had a support session in your back pocket that you could use when you needed it. That way even if you get stuck you don’t stay stuck, and you know that you’re not alone.
5 Toi Smith, in her values statement for her business, wrote that “rest is as important as work” and that is THE TRUTH. I’m trying to walk that talk in my own life and work. It’s one of the ways we stop inflicting the violence of what Ije Ude calls “the culture of relentless productivity” on ourselves.
6 Jo Casey and I have talked about this A LOT. She notes that all the qualities associated with being a successful entrepreneur are the exact opposite of the qualities that women are supposed to have, which is why it can be so fraught and emotionally challenging to take on this work. Because women have to violate their feminine conditioning to do it. Staci Jordan Shelton takes this on, too. I’ve been really influenced by her approach. In her work she focuses on “unraveling” our social conditioning, internalized oppression, particular family histories and beliefs about ourselves.
Meet The Team
is a vision-led facilitator and coach who believes that together, we rise. She is deeply committed to cultivating a world that works for everyone and does so by placing her work at the intersections of personal growth, social justice, and conscious business.
is Kelly Diels’ Community and Business Manager and she makes sure shit gets done. She also is a fierce writer, creator, and intersectional feminist who believes we can change it all.
There are 10 modules: a kickoff month at the beginning; a possibility modeling + celebration month at the end; and eight development months in between.
To get a really chewy review of what you’ll be working on each month, click on the module/month number, below.
JAN: 5 day Online Intensive on The Roots of Online Marketing and Its Social Impact
5 Day Online Intensive on The Roots of Online marketing followed by an integration week.
This metaphor comes from Angela Davis: “Radical simply means grasping things at the root”. I feel like that’s the thing that often gets missed in Empowerment Land. It’s not simply a few edits or adding in those who have been excluded. It’s not a few tweaks to your languaging and then you’re set. To dismantle The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand — which is to say, to dismantle white supremacist patriarchy — we’ve got to understand the history and norms it consists of and the world view its rooted in and that’s where we start.
This is a 5 day online intensive reviewing the history, world-views and specific tactics and triggers baked in the current online marketing norms. Each daily tutorial is live, taught by me, but they’re also recorded so if you can’t make that particular session you can review it later. The intent, however, is that we move through this material together and process it as close to real-time as possible in threads, intimate conversations and larger community discussions. This kind of immersion rapidly equips you with the conceptual frame and discernment skills you need to easily connect-the-dots between conventional marketing tactics and oppressive cultural outcomes.
Our intensive is meant to help you map and deeply understand the structure of current online marketing so that going forward, you can separate the skeleton (email and content marketing) from the manipulation (social triggers).
I structured this as an immersion rather than spread-out classes across months because I wanted us to immediately and comprehensively get both the aerial view of the structure and the ability to grasp things at the root. If we immerse ourselves in the roots of online marketing, and map out the processes and triggers used in mainstream marketing, we’ll be better equipped to take it apart and build something new. When you have both the nuts-and-bolts knowledge and the aerial view, it makes you less dependent on other people’s formulas and prescriptions AND, at the same time, more independently capable of rescuing what is useful and non-oppressive from those systems7. It’s a foundational skill.
The intensive is followed by two integration weeks in which you meet with your incubator and have study blocks but no additional learnings to process and unravel. That way you’ve got the time and space to metabolize the information you’ve taken in.
At the end of this week, you will be able to independently spot for yourself the leveraging of privilege and inequity in marketing collateral and campaigns of other brands — high-risk persuasion spotting in the wild! — and detect it in your own marketing.
7 Another way of thinking about this is ‘rummaging through the compost’. Julie Stuart of Making Ideas Visible and Soul Sensuality gave me the metaphor for this approach. It comes from a group exercise she uses to elicit new ideas. In her idea-generating facilitations, she sometimes maps out a dying system on the ground and asks people to identify and stand in their current location in the system and then have a conversation with the other people there about what it feels like to exist in this space in the system. One of the locations in a dying system is the compost — and there ARE materials here we can use to grow the new future. Ditto, marketing. It is possible to use online marketing infrastructure this WITHOUT using the conventionally prescribed launch techniques of faux-authority, faux-reciprocity, false-scarcity, fear, shame, peer-pressure, etc. For the most part what this means is really knowing what the infrastructure consists of (hence this intensive); rummaging through the compost to find pieces that don’t manufacture inequity; stripping the social triggers (which of course DO manufacture inequity) from our sequence; and inventing tactics and sequences that either fill in the gaps or achieve entirely different objectives.
FEB: Leverage Your Strengths and Audit Your Impact + Business Practices
Leveraging your Strengths as Feminist Influence and Good Business Practices
One of the fault lines I’ve observed in apparently feminist businesses that imploded or exploded, publicly — like Nasty Gal and Thinx or apparently feminist ad campaigns like H&M’s last year — is that only the public face of the company was feminist. Only the messaging was feminist. Their daily business practices – especially around labour practices – appeared to remain standard capitalist fare. Sexual discrimination. No maternity leave or workplace accommodations for people’s real lives. Child labour. It’s what I’ve observed in The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand, too. Famous entrepreneurs with million dollar launches built on unpaid intern labour. Apparently ‘empowering’ platforms that are silent on collective issues. Empowering women while reinforcing the sexist cultural assumptions that limit their lives. Dissonance between brand messaging and business practices is a major tension and risk. I believe that we are here because we know that stuff is just plain wrong and strive to do better but what I want to also point out that this dissonance is a major threat to a feminist brand like ours… which is why we’re going to start our Feminist Marketing not with messaging but with auditing our supply chains.
- A supply chain includes where you host your sites, what themes you use, what software and apps you select, where you’re invited to speak, your daily business practices and the way you interact with your employees and contractors (especially Vas) and, where applicable, your labour practices around maternity leave, family leave, sick leave, and insurance…and even where you host meetings or the coffee shops you work at.
- To reduce this threat to our feminist businesses and profile – and, more importantly, to ensure creating a cultural impact we want to own– we’ll map our supply chains, identify gaps between belief and practice, and then make plans to steadily remove suppliers who aren’t consistent with our work and deliberately select suppliers whom we want to strengthen and support.8 Your supply chain is actually a source of power and influence and a way to use your business and your platform to lift the businesses and livelihoods of fellow culture-makers and marginalized peoples.
8 I’ve done this for myself over the last few months and the results of my own audit were shocking. I found out that the maker of the theme I use and recommended to my clients is calling people ‘libtards’ on Twitter, fat-shaming and slut-shaming women, and supporting Trump. Obviously this is not where I want to invest my business dollars, so I’ve made a plan to replace that them with a new website custom design in September 2017 that will be made by a feminist independent. I also identified that my hosting had to change and made a plan to move it to an organization who designed their business to support activists and changemakers, and that will happen in July. (Honestly, I’m also having a hard time reconciling the prominent place Facebook has in my personal marketing strategy with the way Facebook suspends the profiles of anti-racist activists, especially people of colour…and I don’t yet have another strategy identified. This is part of my point. I might not like what my audit reveals and I might not have a way to fix it right away, but once I’ve identified it, I put my thinking cap ON. It might not be instant, but I absolutely will decide on or sacrifice or invent something.) Mapping, researching and revamping your supply chain doesn’t all have to happen at once – that could take you away from your actual business and could put your systems at risk — but you can make an incremental plan to take on one thing per month once you’ve identified the inconsistencies in your supply chain.
MAR: Identify Your Feminist Commitments and Your Source of Marketing Fuel
We Are The Culture Makers. Let’s Identify (and Leverage) Our Sources of Fuel: Our Unconditional Commitments and Our Community Care + Self-Care (AND THEN RALLY)9
When we, as intersectional feminists and counter-culturals and culture-makers, try to implement conventional online marketing formulas in our businesses that use social triggers and leverage privilege, we tend to run into a big problem. We either have to suppress our sociopolitical commitments to build out these marketing sequences, or we honour our principles and can’t market enthusiastically or at all. In this situation, our commitments are a liability. But they don’t have to be. In Feminist Marketing School, your commitments are where we begin. They’re a source of power and fuel. I’m definitely not going to ask you to suspend your commitments. Instead, we’re going to identify your unconditional commitments and then build your marketing around them. Your beliefs and principles are your starting point, not a problem to be managed.
- Your commitments are actually a marketing asset. Defining your commitments is the first step; after that, I’ll show you to use them as the foundation of a social media strategy I call Little Birds. Little Birds uses what you believe in to invite your community to assemble. It’s actually ridiculously fast and easy to develop this content and after you do that, you’ll build a little social media machine to help yourself be consistent and visible without requiring constant energy and presence.
- Your commitments are also fuel. They’re what will sustain you when things are tiring or tedious. When you’re unconditionally committed to something that matters and reaches beyond your own profit (though I dig your personal profit!), you can get tired without wanting to quit or disappear. When you know you’re doing all of this for a reason, you keep going. Identifying your unconditional commitments and coming back to them over and over also helps you keep your marketing and decisions aligned and effective.
- That being said: it’s essential to our rise that we stay replenished and resource each other with community care. In order to sustainably develop influence and consolidate our culture-making power, we need to identify ways to do that without inflicting the violence of workaholism and relentless hustle on ourselves and loved ones. This is an asset we deserve and we’re specifically going to strategize about this in this module.
- To stay sustained, personally and collectively, we need people cheering us on; we need to see others in the same lane as us; we need to see that we’re coming up together and get emboldened by that. It’s an important part of Feminist Marketing School and we’re going to take some time to map out what fuels each of us and identify personal strategies for building community and relationships in our digital community and incubators – and in our own platforms and lives. We cannot rise if we don’t have resources, and the care, truth and affection we offer ourselves and each other is our first collective resource.
9 My thinking on unconditional commitments is influenced by Jennifer McCabe and, I guess, Stoicism; my thinking about the applicability and value of commitments in our marketing comes from Dawn Serra; my thinking on self care comes from Audre Lorde and bell hooks — whom, in my opinion, invented self-care; my thinking on community care comes from Lianne Raymond.
APR: How to Name Your Vision + Create a Movement-Making Vocabulary That Attracts Community
Influence Building starts with Vision (and vision is leadership). Your Vision, Your Leadership and How to Define The Metrics of Legacy.
You’ll “start with your why”10, a lovely theory, and then apply it, in practice. Show up for it in your business and in your marketing. You’re your vision, convey your beliefs – even and especially if they’re polarizing – in everything you do and every piece of copy you post (about page, bio, sales pages, manifesto, Facebook updates, blog posts, everything). Invite people in. There’s simply nothing that brings people into your mission more than what you truly believe and what you stand for. Bonus: As a practical marketing strategy, leading with your truth is more effective and way less objectionable than the usual suspects (like fear and scarcity).
- There are two levels to vision, and we’re going to work on articulating both pieces of your vision (your offerings for sale are discoverable in the middle of this Venn diagram). Your audacious cultural vision is what you want to contribute to the world. Your ambitious personal vision is the activities you want to do on a daily basis11 and how you want to live (I include personal prosperity and money in this).
- Define the metrics of legacy. One of the challenges in articulating our cultural vision is that we’re envisioning a just culture that doesn’t exist yet, and reacting against an unjust one we’ve grown up in and been socialized by. The indicators of success of today often don’t apply to what we’re doing or will actually limit our imagination and what we can accomplish. One of the culture-making vision challenges, then, is to measure ourselves against the metrics of the culture we’re trying to make. So we have to imagine forward and ask ourselves: what are the metrics of legacy? This process keeps us innovating and fortifies our feminist resolve. Defining the metrics of legacy that are important to us and our unique business helps us not be distracted by shiny objects, be fortified against current-yard-stick criticisms that we’re not this or that enough, and resist attempts to diminish us when we get too significant.
- Name your vision. Let’s take a page from social movements: leaders and thinkers and communities have always named phenomenon that was previously invisible to the over-culture. Once we name a thing, it becomes tangible and something we can resist or collaborate on. Naming a phenomenon provides relief to your audience because you provided language for something they intuited AND it’s an invitation to become community members invested in our collective project. Audre Lorde, for example, coined the phrase “The Mythic Norm” and it’s what I tried to do, too, by naming The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand. So to make your contribution to paradigm-shifting, I’m going to share exercises with you to help you name your vision. Invent your language. Bend the culture. Naming your vision also helps you in your marketing because it helps you identify a white space in your market, insert yourself there with a distinct message, get known for it, and galvanize the people assembling around these ideas.
10 I’m riffing on Simon Sinek, here
11 This is totally inspired by Dr. Jennifer McCabe’s work on leadership and relationship skills
MAY: Craft Your One True Marketing Message + Your Plan for Rolling it Out on Social Media
Here’s where we are so far: You’ve articulated and affirmed your unconditional commitments, fleshed out your cultural and personal vision, decided on your metrics of legacy, and named the spot where you work and what you want to be known for. These are deep personal resources AND they are your marketing assets. Now you can distill them into Your One True Marketing Message and use that message everywhere, in all of your copy and collateral. Developing this kind of polarizing, magnetic message12 is how you become distinct in the marketplace, attract the audience and clients prepared to work with you and collaborate with you in bringing the vision to life, and stay true to your principles.
Developing and building out your One True Marketing Message in every page and every message is how you consistently extend invitations to potential clients without having to manufacture faux-authority with a rags-to-riches or makeover story AND it can be a way to pull your diverse trainings and experience into one coherent vision and set of offerings13.
- Your One True Marketing Message has to speak to the intersection between your vision (what you want to do) and the market opportunity (what your customer wants from you) so I’ll be asking you do research and listen deeply to your people, here. I’ll be asking you to open up conversations with clients asking them what they want and need without trying to sell to them in any way. (That way you can truly focus on hearing them rather than convincing them.) The overlap between what they want and what you want is where you’ll work.
- Once you’ve heard from your customers, we’ll fold that into Your One True Marketing Message. We’ll work on developing your One True Marketing Message (and echoes and submessages) and turning them into a swipe file of headings, transitions sentences, calls-to-actions and social media declarations.
- Then you’ll work them into all the most critical web pages – home, about, work with me, sales pages, subscribe page — and reorganize your copy around those themes. This brings a sense of coherence to your platform so you can get known for what you believe in, your vision, and how your work advances that vision in your client’s lives and collectively.
- We’ll also specifically demonstrate multiple ways to make About pages more substantial and less rags-to-riches (so you can shine in your full magnificence and credibility rather than pouring yourself into a formula that doesn’t fit).
- And we’ll take on sales pages, too. I’ll show you many, many ways to write a sales page that is an invitation and a love letter – in other words, how NOT to write the usually-prescribed sales page wherein you’re supposed to manufacture a problem, scare people, offer a solution (to a fear you just triggered!) and rush them into a decision that’s not carefully considered. Blech.
- One more thing: I’m against formulas that don’t fit, and adopting systems that require you to compromise your principles, but we also don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I’m going to give you several templates and outlines for web pages and sales pages that you can flesh out using your One True Marketing Message so you can spend less time writing focus on the stuff that’s important: your actual work. At the same time, my aim isn’t to create 100 or 200 clones of my work. I just know from writing a book proposal, for example, that it really helped to see actual book proposals and templates in order to write my own. When someone described how to do it, I couldn’t do it. When I saw an actual proposal, then I knew how to make it mine. That’s what I’m aiming to do here. Give you tools and also show you what it looks like in practice so you don’t have to twist around and waste time trying to imagine it into being.
12 I am profoundly influenced by and grateful to L’Erin Alta for putting language around this idea. The combination of polarizing and magnetic is 100% attributable to her.
13 This work is especially useful for multi-passionate and multi-potential people who feel like they constantly have to rebrand or silo their activities into multiple sites and identities (the goal here: focus, get momentum, and never have to significantly rebrand again)
JUN: Develop Your Feminist Image Strategy
Using the lens of The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand to Deconstruct Social Media and Marketing Images… so you can do it differently in yours.
In this module, we are going to investigate images through the lens of The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand so that you can avoid automatically replicating it in your own imagery.
Because now that you’ve developed your One True Marketing Message, your next step is to spread the word using all the media and tools available to you — including photos and imagery.
We’re going to especially consider two things: how social triggers (especially authority) are activated using images; and the sinister, dehumanizing roots of beauty norms that are everywhere — including our social media feeds (and sometimes our own work).
To do this, we’re going at the roots again.
Using social-trigger detection skills and systemic dot-connecting we learned in Module 1, (“Grasping Things at the Root”), we’re going to look at how The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand signals beauty, wealth, leisure, superiority and virtue in the images they make and share in their social media feeds — and how the signals in these images manufacture their authority so that it will trigger subconscious obedience and buying behaviours in their audience.
And how we might be inadvertently doing that too, with our own media and images.
(We are all in the water so we are all wet).
And then we’re going to cast the net wider and assess the social, systemic outcome of using these triggers in our imagery — again, so that we can avoid contributing our own images to this dehumanizing paradigm.
And create a new one.
We’re going to deconstruct these ubiquitous images through the lens of The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand. These images displaying sanitized lives, white beauty, wealth, and very conventional notions of femininity, the ideal woman, and ‘worthy’ humanity. By invoking and leveraging these conventions, they’re reinforcing patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, ableism, ageism (and, and, and).
The reason we’re investigating this: so that (a) we can ‘read’ our own images, (b) make changes to the way we present ourselves, and (c) align the media we make with Our One True Marketing Message.
We’re going to look for patterns and ask pointed questions.
- If Female Lifestyle Brands tend to look a particular way — long haired, white, youthful, slim, professionally pretty, sexy but not too sexy — why is that?
- What are the commonalities?
- Why does beauty build a brand?
- Where do our beauty norms come from?
- What — and who — is not considered beautiful?
- Assuming they wanted to, could people who deviate from conventional standards of beauty and acceptability in our culture manufacture aspirational authority this visibility strategy?
- Where are examples of other ways to culture-make with our images?
Then we’re going to get forensic. What poses do we see over and over again that construct conventional femininity? What objects signal wealth, leisure, superiority or virtue?
Which ones could we use, instead?
To answer that, we’ll survey our social media landscape for examples of imagery that does not replicate The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand and for people and brands who are culture-making in a different direction, so that you have possibility models — and tactics! — to inspire your own work.
That’s what this module is primarily about: developing the perceptual skills to detect social triggers in imagery and predict their social impact (we’ll use the lens of The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand and the ‘grasping things at the root’ skill we learned in Module 1 as our primary tools) so that you can do it differently in your work. This is pattern-spotting and code-cracking.
So that’s what we’ll be working on this month.
- Using The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand as a lens, we’ll interrogate beauty norms baked into our mainstream culture and the marketing images that appear in our social media feeds. We’ll make contact with the way our beauty norms are a vehicle for white supremacy — which means they play out differently at different identity intersections. A black woman claiming and signalling beauty with her visuals and style, for example, might be undermining white supremacy that constructs black features and bodies and hair as defective and undesirable (I feel that’s what Kimberly Foster of For Harriet accomplishes in her selfies, videos and snapshots; and what writer Ijeoma Oluo does with her Youtube make-up tutorials and snapshots of her custom clothing). Or she might be complying with the male gaze and reinforcing patriarchal norms while wanting to be lauded, falsely, for ’empowerment’ (which is what Kimberly Foster wrote about Amber Rose and bushgate). A conventionally pretty white woman signalling beauty in her visuals, however, might be leveraging white beauty norms to construct authority over other women. Navigating the cultural, political and historical context for beauty and beauty-signalling is tough stuff. It’s complicated and we have to attend to the intersectional context and history as we’re making our own images and statements. Because images are social statements. Images are also the infrastructure of visibility: they build out our message, get attention, and boost our reach and revenue. Our objective in this module is to attend to that context, make deep contact with it, so that we’ve got the consciousness and perceptual skills to create images that serve both our marketing and our culture-making rather than choosing between one outcome or the other. No more impossible choices and double binds.
- We’ll map and deconstruct the visuals and social media feeds of The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand; activate our ‘grasping things at the root’ discernment skill and ask ourselves what social triggers are being activated through those images; we’ll create boards identifying particular patterns and tropes around beauty, femininity, wealth and virtue so we can map the commonalities — right down to poses14 and clothing choices — and avoid replicating them; and in so doing, we’ll develop alternative ways to express ourselves.
- I’ll share my resources, references and contact details for professional photographers, artists, designers and teachers who are already creating (and teaching) countercultural imagery so that if you need more support, you’ve got a list of resources or a provider who can help you accomplish this vision.15
- But even if you’re not in a place to hire contractor or take additional courses, you’ll still have the ability to use The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand as a lens, AND the context-reading skills you need to avoid automatically reproducing The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand in your own media. You’ll also be able to envision and concretely explain what you ARE trying to articulate — and what you want to avoid — so that you’re equipped to undertake some of it yourself OR creatively direct other professionals to accomplish your vision.
14Star Monroe has written a superb piece on Facebook and in her newsletter about poses and patriarchy. After I read it, I had a catalogue of poses in my head that convey prettiness and sexuality rather than power and thoughtfulness. It was massively helpful in helping me decide, deliberately, how to present myself in pictures.
15 Caveat: I’m not a graphic designer or visual artist, so we won’t be making any images in our class or group work together
JUL: Money is a Feminist Issue – Develop and Apply Your Sales, Pricing and Profit Strategies
Money Is a Feminist Issue. Sales and Pricing Strategies16.
- Money Shame – When combatting money shame, it helps to have the aerial view of the way our money experiences have been shaped by social structures. When I realize how much of my money experience is shaped up by forces beyond my control and that I was born into, my shame dissipates. Money shame is NOT personal or a personal defect. It’s a natural, normal response to the social associations between wealth and virtue and deprivation and defect – and the social messaging and the structures underneath it are the problem, not me. When I know this, and feel it, my counter-will ACTIVATES. (Counter-will is the “OH HELL NO” reaction that can fuel us in resisting oppression and inventing new possibilities.) Money shame is particularly acute for marginalized peoples who experience poverty because there’s a virtue narrative built into Western culture. And then, when a culture maker starts getting financially successful, a new kind of money shame activates. We’ve often internalized the binary that financial success = corruption and oppression and justice = financial deprivation. But individually and collectively it’s really important for us to cultivate and consolidate resources. This is how we avoid being double-billed for own oppression and how we seed funds and interventions and incubators and each other to create the future we’re imagining.
- Money Mechanics – We’re going to build little money machines (sales and sales conversations; email marketing campaigns) and we are going to work on pricing. Pricing is particularly important for us as feminist entrepreneurs and culture-makers to work through because that’s where money shame activates AND it’s where we build profit. But pricing does not have to be a somatic experience17. It’s not about prestige or how much you love yourself. It’s not about being affordable. It’s not even about lifestyle or what it costs you to live. Business pricing is about your business expenses and overhead, your salary, your taxes, and profit. You’ve got to put numbers to all these things and then calculate your prices based on those numbers. Those numbers will tell you what your prices need to be in order to pay your overhead, taxes, salary AND MAKE A PROFIT. Once you know that number, then you can look at how you position yourself in the marketplace relative to other businesses and also how to cover the costs of scholarships and grants or other ways to make your offerings to low income participants and leaders. We’ll cover a series of innovative ways to make your business services accessible to low-income participants and/or emerging non-profits because this is really important to me and to future as a collective. But I also hold firm to the notion that no individual is a community resource; that collective responsibilities cannot be downloaded to individuals (that’s violence); and that every radical and culture-maker deserves to flourish, build profitable businesses and earn salaries that are larger than barely enough or not enough. I want us to break through the binary thinking that we’re either virtuous and broke or corrupt and wealthy. This kind of thinking is internalized oppression designed to keep us without resources.
16 This module has been profoundly influenced by the works of Karen Graves, Tara Gentile, Sara Thompson, Sophie Macklin, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan.
17 Paradoxically, knowing that there’s a business case for your pricing rather than a finger-in-the-wind often helps you feel good about your pricing because you know you’re not being exploitative or predatory but rational.
AUG: List Marketing + Little Sales Machines
List Marketing, list building, advanced content marketing
I DO subscribe to the conventional marketing notion that the money is in the list. I also worry about the fact that we don’t own the social media platforms to which we’re contributing so much time, effort and content. I also worry about the capricious way social media platforms can engage with countercultural activists and culture-makers, especially when they’re people of colour doing anti-racist work. We can use social media, sure; but we’ve got to make sure we’ve got contacts and resources and reach that we own, especially outside of Facebook. Which makes having your own list doubly important.
- So we’re going to work on getting people to meander over to our lists from social media and subscribe. I’ve got lots of strategies for doing that. They range from constant, tiny wins on Facebook and Instagram that add a handful of people at a time (but every day!); to website design that facilitates sign-ups; to in-person and marketing collateral invites; to public relations; to big-effort online summits that add thousands of people to your list…without using tactics that replicate rape culture and other oppressive patterns. (I don’t have an opt-in, for example. Originally it was because I was just didn’t want to; then it was because I wanted the permission to press send that comes with knowing the only reason people signed up is because they actually want to get emails from me; and now it’s because I’ve connected the dots between the manipulation of the social trigger of reciprocity, rape culture and opt-ins.)
- We’re also going to review sending patterns; how to amplify the voices of your community members and marginalized peoples using your email resources; I’ll share email sales content and sequences with you in case they provide a useful starting point and swipe file for you; and we’ll develop a wide array of exercises and systems for generating gorgeous content for your emails that doesn’t require you to burn out… while at the same time paradigm – shifting and truly serving the community of people eagerly anticipating it.
SEP: Best Practices to Help You Lead and Steward Your Online Communities + Groups
What I often observe in online groups led by Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brands is that they’re about empire-building rather than community-building. They’re about boosting the profile of the founder rather than creating a space for us to work on a vision and project. As a result, they tend to be run in an authoritarian way. Posters must be deferential to the leader and critical thinking, dissent or challenging perspectives are often classified as “low-vibe” or “negative”. Threads are deleted without warning and people are removed and blocked without explanation. There aren’t mechanisms providing for conflict as a natural amongst humans who aren’t homogeneous or the requirement of radical personal accountability and self-reflection. Even in feminist groups, however, threads can become shit-storms and moderation becomes a nightmare for the administrators — and traumatizing for group members. Feminist groups also often have a problem around cis-gender privilege and the unconscious or deliberate exclusion of trans and non-binary folks. And even when white women leaders try to get on the diversity train, it’s often self-serving rather than truly inclusive. It comes from a place of “I want more diversity in this group” rather than “how can I ensure that white women and women with various privileges in this group have done unlearning & dismantling work that will ensure women with more intersectional identities do not have to navigate minefields and bombshells from their supposed comrades and can feel comfortable, welcome and radically included in this space?”18 (One woman of colour put it like this to me and I’m so grateful she cared enough to tell me how it is: “I do not want to spend my time and energy in spaces where white people are working out their whiteness.”) When we’re building groups to challenge unjust structures, we’ve got to address these dynamics and facilitate the unlearning of these patterns in the communities we steward and belong to.
- So that’s what we’re taking on. We’ll draw community facilitation techniques from radical in-person collectives and adapt them to online spaces; we’ll define a vision or a project (rather than an empire) for our communities so that rather than having to force ourselves to have “shared values” we decide to work on a common project; we’ll review readings and resources and practices meant to facilitate individual capacity building within a collective (and one of our capacities is unlearning oppressive bullshit); we’ll define guardrails around emotional labour and best practices for thread management; we’ll talk about tiny welcome techniques community members can learn and signal to help us compensate for the non-verbal indicators that are absent from textual communication;and source tech and trainings for helping us steward large, challenging, generative communities. Basically, we’re going to build out a paradigm-shifting infrastructure for community learning and community care.
18 My thinking is influenced by Andrea Renae Johnson and Sofia Rose Smith, as well as by Desiree Adaway’s & Ericka Hines’ course “Diversity is an Asset”.
OCT: Case Studies and Celebrations
Case Studies, Possibility-Modeling and Celebrations.
This month is where we, as a collective, teach each other and share resources and highlight possibilities. Each participant will be encouraged to contribute one object — an image, a video, a screen shot, what-have-you — with a description of what we might learn from it about feminist marketing and how we could apply this in our businesses. In addition, I’ll be asking people to volunteer to make short video presentations or be interviewed by me to describe their story or their experiments or their results (but there’s no obligation to be featured ). I want us to bring forward and celebrate the gains and triumphs and tiny failures and setbacks (so much information there!) we individually learned from and used to craft marketing strategies and practices that have been growing our reach, revenue, power and impact. We’ve been experimenting and iterating over the last 10 months, so there will be so much experience and new information to learn from across our collective of feminist marketers.
I don’t want this training to close without building an institutional memory around all we created AND CELEBRATING.
So this is a month to play and affirm and witness.
This is month to celebrate and contribute your work and commitments and learn from the collective brilliance.
Feminist Marketing School Schedule
The first month features a 5 day online intensive and the last month is about possibility modeling. In between, in our “eight development months”, we’ll follow a 3x3 format. We’ll meet three times a week for three weeks, and then take at least one week as an integration week.
The first meeting each week is on Tuesdays and it’s a live teaching by moi (Kelly Diels); the second meeting is with your incubator and it’s on Wednesdays; the third meeting is on Fridays and it’s a study block where you show up to do your development work.
Online Intensive week: January 15 – 19, 2018
- Two+ tutorials by Kelly Diels will be posted each day and we’ll be parsing and processing together in our incubators and the digital community.
- The next two weeks there will be two meetings each week. On Wednesdays, you’ll meet with your incubator and Fridays you’ll have study block.
Tuesday Classes taught in Feb to Sept by Kelly Diels
3 Tuesdays each development month (March through September) at noon EST.
- February 6, 13, 20
- March 6, 13, 20
- April 3, 10, 17
- May 1, 8, 15
- June 5, 12, 19
- July 10, 17, 24
- August 7, 14, 21
- September 11, 18, 25
Wednesday Incubators led by trained facilitators
- 2 Wednesdays during our Online Intensive month;
- 3 Wednesdays each development month;
- 3 Wednesdays during Graduation month.
You will have to select the time/group you want to join, at either 11 am EST; 12 noon EST; and 1 pm EST (selecting your group will take place in December 2017).
- January 24, 31
- February 7, 14, 21
- March 7, 14, 21
- April 4, 11, 18
- May 2, 9, 16
- June 6, 13, 20
- July 11, 18, 25
- August 8, 15, 22
- September 12, 19, 26
- October 10, 17, 24
Friday Study Blocks
3 Fridays each development month at noon EST
- February 9, 16, 23
- March 9, 16, 23
- April 6, 13, 20
- May 4, 11, 18
- June 8, 15, 22
- July 13, 20, 27
- August 10, 17, 24
- September 14, 21, 28
Graduation Month: October 2018
1. Feminist Marketing School is about transcending the limits of The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand and taking responsibility for the ways our own marketing intersects with patriarchal norms. I am constantly questioning everything I know and my thinking and practices are constantly evolving. One of the places I’ve landed: I believe that mandatory thinness is about women’s compliance rather than wellness and that it’s a function and expression of white supremacy. It’s body terrorism19 and a form of bodily injustice20. What that means is that registrations in Feminist Marketing School are not available to businesses in the fat-loss industry. Instead, I use my platform and our program to actively support and resource entrepreneurs, coaches, therapists and activist striving to demolish diet culture.
2.Every person who registers in Feminist Marketing School is given the opportunity to do supported, facilitated work on their individual copy and businesses within a smaller incubator of up to 25 people. This is a brave space rather than a safe space and continued access to the incubators is an option within the larger Feminist Marketing School, not an entitlement. Remaining as a participating group member within the smaller collective (incubator) IS contingent on remaining teachable and committed to doing intersectional learning and work in that smaller community. If a person contests or diminishes the humanity of another person or group or contributes to an oppressive environment within the incubator and refuses to be called in, then that person will no longer be invited to participate in the smaller group incubator or community discussion threads. No refunds will be offered to people asked by Feminist Marketing School staff to leave incubators. The reasons for this are a) that shit is wrong b) this is a feminist marketing school for committed culture-makers so advanced personal and political accountability and self-reflection is required c) we are not going to revictimize our most marginalized members by having to witness white people working out their whiteness or cis women rejecting trans rights (or, or, or). Every Feminist Marketing School registrant is initially invited to join an incubator but the consciousness bar to remain in these intimate collectives is HIGH — and yet, paradoxically, easy. Just don’t oppress or dehumanize your cohorts or anyone and if your community members call you in, stay teachable.
19 Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body is Not An Apology.
20 Melissa Toler.
Our Feminist Marketing School mission
is to grow our businesses and social impact
in a way that creates capacities in ourselves,
our collective and the people we serve
(rather than exploiting their human vulnerabilities)
So Let’s Define Our Feminist Commitments and Market WITH Them Rather Than Against Them
Your political principles and personal commitments are a source of power and a resource in your marketing, not a liability.
Your rise is a contribution towards the culture we’re calling into being.
There’s no shame in seeking visibility for yourself and the work you do.
There’s no shame in building awareness for your business.
There’s no shame in marketing…
(except that we’ve been taught a lot of marketing techniques that are shameful,
so no wonder we don’t want to use them).
There’s no shame in selling.
All of these things can be done differently. Each one can be practiced ethically, consciously, and sustainably.
We do not have to sheer off our feminist principles in order to rise and success doesn’t have to be defined by current cultural metrics nor does it mean “overnight”.
Visibility, marketing, selling and influence-building are essential skills to build when you want to thrive as a culture-making entrepreneur and make a significant impact in our society.
Big impact. Sweet success.
Let’s imagine and build out those results.
Let’s make them our new culture and our new reality. Together.
Yes, we will rise together.
Ready to Join Feminist Marketing School?
10 month commitment, $5,000 USD.
This can be paid in full at $5,000 or on a 18 month payment plan of $302.78 per month ($5450.00 total)21
P.S. Right now I’m soft-launching Feminist Marketing School to my community and while that’s happening, extended 18-month payment plans will be available.
In the fall, when the official FMS launch campaign swings into gear, the payment plan available will be 10 payments of $545.
The 18-month extended payment plan will be available until Sept 30 2017.
21 As I noted at the beginning of this page — and many a FB post and blog post — I charge extra for payment plans and here’s why: because in my client practice, across the years, the numbers show me that there is a higher risk of payment default in my extended fee schedules. I’ve worked my historical business numbers and landed on the figure of 9%, which is also fairly consistent with credit card rates of interest..