Marketing spiritual direction can be a touchy subject. There are some spiritual directors who abhor the idea of advertising their availability. In fact, A Code of Ethics for Spiritual Directors (Dove Publications), states:
“Traditionally, spiritual directors have not publicized or advertised their services, or promoted themselves in other ways (p15).”
That was published in 1992, before people began using the Internet as a primary communication tool. Today if a spiritual director is available and wants to let the world know that he or she is offering spiritual direction, it is expected that social media, websites and email marketing as well as the traditional business cards and brochures will be used to get the word out.
The thing to remember about marketing yourself as a trained and available spiritual director is that most spiritual entrepreneurs engage in “soft marketing” rather than the hard sell. Their websites are safe places for seekers to go and read about the kind of spiritual direction or guidance they are doing. It’s a way of letting the world know what spiritual direction is and how you are different from other forms of guidance, such as life coaching or intuition counseling. Soft marketing involves describing your service and waiting for clients to come to you instead of directly recruiting people as clients. Much like Twelve Step groups, we want to rely mostly on attraction rather than promotion.
As you prepare your “attraction materials,” make sure your information is completely factual and devoid of any claims or promises about spiritual direction. For example, never promise spiritual healing or any other specific outcome.
It is important also that you not conjure up fancy titles for yourself that could be misleading. Yes, there are lots of spiritual directors who do not like the term “director” because of the many connotations of the word “direct.” But coming up with a creative term for it that is confusing or misleading is not helpful either. In particular, never call yourself a spiritual counselor (unless you are licensed as a counselor in your state) or a “prayer therapist” unless you want to get into trouble with the therapists in your area. The synonyms I’ve heard for spiritual direction are usually just as problematic as spiritual director which is why I prefer the original title. At least a few people in the world know what a spiritual director is and the tradition behind what we do. If they don’t, your marketing material is the perfect place to give your definition.
There are many other ways to softly market spiritual direction. Blogs are an excellent way to reach out in the marketplace. Publishing articles in newspapers, magazines and newsletters about spiritual direction or spiritual practices can be effective. Presenting workshops, seminars or retreats is also helpful. Any place you go to talk about spirituality is a place you should distribute your cards and brochures.
Since most directees will find you based on a referral from someone who knows you, make sure you let all your friends and colleagues know you are working as a spiritual director and accepting new clients. Physicians, nurses, psychologists, clergy, chaplains, campus ministers, retreat center directors and social workers all meet with people daily who may be in need of spiritual direction. Make sure those people in your life have your business card, brochure or website address. If you feel the need to do some “push” marketing, then those professionals would be people you would be well advised to meet, greet and talk with about spiritual direction, asking them to take your card and provide referrals whenever they feel comfortable.
It’s time spiritual direction made its peace with marketing. Our work is a vital ministry and a bright light for a lot of people. Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “Who lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel basket?”
For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. If you have questions or comments about the content of Spiritual Direction 101, please let me hear from you in the reply section below.