How can psychedelics make marketing less evil?

The main point of marketing is to get someone to buy your product or engage with your brand. But does that happen through manipulation or mutual agreement? Let’s take a look at how psychedelics can make marketing less evil.

Marketing /ˈmɑːkɪtɪŋ/

The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

Marketing gets a lot of bad press these days. A lot of that bad press is pretty fair when you consider marketing and consumer psychology is used to:

  • Drive people to make purchases they can’t afford
  • Make people feel bad when they can’t afford a lifestyle
  • Fake customer reviews
  • Fake social followers
  • Manipulate elections
  • Polish up the image of the company behind the latest oil spill
  • Over-promise, over-emphasis and downright lie

The list goes on…

A marketer’s mindset can be far too focused on growth and hitting goals that they throw morals out of the door. Take this example of some lazy marketing – although, top marks on the Photoshop skills…

Marques Brownlee tweet | Steve Linney Marketing
Source: boredpanda.com1

Although, the Photoshop skills here leave a lot to be desired…

Bad photoshop skills with a maternity dress | Steve Linney Marketing
Source: boredpanda.com2

As a marketer myself, these types of campaigns make me think, “what the hell am I doing in this job?” But, there’s a silver lining to all of this, as marketing can also be used for good.

There’s one tool that’s not talked about a lot that can help marketers be less evil. It’s not a new app or platform – it’s one of the oldest tools humans have to hand.

It’s psychedelics.

Marketing for good

Before we dive into talking about psychedelics, let’s look at why marketing isn’t all bad.

“For me, marketing works for society when the marketer and consumer are both aware of what’s happening and are both satisfied with the ultimate outcome.”

Seth Godin, superstar marketer

As Seth Godin is very good at doing, he sums up the positivity of marketing in this neat sentence.

If you are genuinely delivering a product or service that helps individuals, the community or another business, then why not attract people to your business? The only way you’ll survive is by bringing customers through your door.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to live by this as a marketer for most of my career and have been fortunate enough to help:

  • People find online training that’s transformed their life
  • Charities find pro-bono support that saved them from liquidation
  • Ethical startups grow
  • Parents find a welcoming nursery where their children can thrive
  • And, in my student days, help a large number of people dance all night at a rave

How can psychedelics help you be a better marketer?

Let’s make it clear – you do not need to take psychedelics to have a moral compass and be good at marketing. However, it can help.

In many ways, marketing and psychedelics should go hand as with both you can try to:

  • Understand the bigger picture
  • Work out how you can serve your tribe
  • Find solutions to problems

Microdosing is one method used to help people be more creative, decrease depression and live a happier life.

What is microdosing?

Microdosing is taking an amount of a substance, such as LSD or magic mushrooms, that is so small it is subperceptual. In other words, you don’t feel high from it.

Whether microdosing works or not is debatable and given the illegal nature of microdosing, scientific studies are pretty hard to do. 

However, a self-blinding study was created by Imperial College London and The Beckley Foundation, where participants recorded results themselves and anonymously gave feedback.

The effects of microdosing in that study weren’t overwhelming, but it did show an increase in positive psychological outcomes – a bonus in my book. 

In the study. microdosing didn’t perform better than the placebo, randomly taken as part of the study.3

Placebo used to be a dirty word in society with phrases such as “it’s all in your mind” attached to it. Thankfully, we’re in a place now where science realises that’s a good thing and the placebo effect is seen as a positive. 

Studies are being conducted on the placebo effect alone to see how we can benefit from our own mind over matter approach – something Eastern mystics have known for centuries.

One study tested a migraine medication against a placebo and found that the placebo was 50% as effective as the drug. Researchers speculate that a driving force of the reaction was the simple act of taking a pill.

What is macrodosing?

To truly get the benefits from psychedelics, you have to take the macrodose approach. When it comes to magic mushrooms, a macrodose is anything from 2g of dried mushrooms upwards – 3.5g would be standard.

Famed psychedelic enthusiast Terrance McKenna talks about 5g’s being the heroic dose that will help you talk to aliens in another dimension… Whether it does or not is up for debate, but it’s definitely not something for a non-seasoned first-timer to try.

Keep in mind that high dose psychedelics aren’t for everyone, and nobody should be pressured into thinking they have to go down that road. 

If they chose to, with higher doses, your intention is everything and how you prepare beforehand – such as fasting for three weeks before ayahuasca. 

You also need to begin your macrodose deep dive in a safe environment where you won’t be disturbed, can be comfy and have simple things like a toilet close by.

This is called having a good set and setting.5

Ideally, you’ll also have a trip sitter, a seasoned psychedelic user, a psychedelic therapist or a Shaman on hand to guide you through the process.

A higher dose of psychedelics will bring you the potential for ego dissolution, where your sense of self dissolves as your default mode network – DMN – begins to rest. 

Your DMN consists of connected areas of your brain thought to be where your sense of self exists.

“Brain imaging studies suggest that when psychedelics are absorbed, they decrease activity in the default mode network. As a result, the sense of self appears to temporarily shut down. The brain states observed show similarities to deep meditative states, in which increased activity occurs in pathways that do not normally communicate. This process has been compared to defragmenting a computer. Following this, it appears that the default mode network becomes more cohesive. We think this could be one of the reasons levels of anxiety and depression appear to reduce.”

Dr Simon Ruffell, Psychiatrist and Senior Research Associate at King’s College London

When your DMN is shut down like this, it can help you see things in a new light. 

It’s amazing what can happen when your ego isn’t getting in the way. You can see the world in a new light and when that happens you can find better ways of doing things.

Which helps you begin to understand things from a transpersonal perspective – a state of consciousness beyond your personal identity.

That can include your approach to relationships, unhealthy beliefs and the way you do your work, Which brings me back to marketing…

Wasn’t this blog meant to be about marketing?

You have an overwhelming sense of community through the psychedelic process, especially when taken in a group setting. Not only to the group you’re with but to your wider friends and family. 

And beyond that, to humanity as a whole and to mother earth. It’s the sense of oneness that marketers need to take from psychedelics.

The transpersonal understanding that we need to do good and be the best version of ourselves. If we’re cheating our customers, we’re ultimately cheating ourselves – even if it doesn’t always seem like that from the outset.

Psychedelics are also a powerful tool for creativity, which means they can help find a unique and innovative solution to a work problem.

Steve Jobs was a big fan of using LSD to help his creative process. So much so that LSD inventor, Albert Hofmann, wrote Jobs a letter about it.6

Dear Mr Steve Jobs,

Hello from Albert Hofmann. I understand from media accounts that you feel LSD helped you creatively in your development of Apple Computers and your personal spiritual quest. I’m interested in learning more about how LSD was useful to you.

I’m writing now, shortly after my 101st birthday, to request that you support Swiss psychiatrist Dr Peter Gasser’s proposed study of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. This will become the first LSD-assisted psychotherapy study in over 35 years, and will be sponsored by MAPS.

I hope you will help in the transformation of my problem child into a wonder child.


Albert Hofmann

Apparently, Steve Jobs was a terrible person to work for. This shows psychedelics don’t provide all the answers, but they are a tool for you to find them.

In amongst those answers are universal lessons on how to be a nice person that are applicable in any state of consciousness – altered or not.

  1. Leave your ego at the door
  2. Remember that we’re all in this together
  3. Do good

Very good advice for any marketer that we can apply in our daily marketing work by thinking along the lines of:

  • Making sure your platform is of genuine use to customers
  • Creating landing and product pages tell the truth about what is achievable with your product/service
  • Deliver campaigns don’t over promise on what your brand is
  • Write and produce trustworthy content
  • Building a brand that is ethical and puts customers and staff before profit

At the end of the day, taking the evil out of marketing isn’t difficult. It’s about removing negative habits and practices. 

Psychedelics and good work ethics can make that so much easier to achieve.

1 + 2 | Evil marketing techniques that businesses don’t want you to know |
3 | The world’s biggest placebo-controlled microdosing study |
4 | The power of the placebo effect |
5 | Set and setting: here’s how to prepare your mind & space before using psychedelics |
6 | 101 year old inventor of LSD asked Steve Jobs how dropping acid helped him create the mac |

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