James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Selling Happiness

These days I get a fair amount of "self-help" e-mail newsletters and affirmations on building wealth and attaining happiness. These are essentially marketing devices; the free materials are intended to direct us to buy a book or a program. And a lot of that stuff isn't cheap.

I've noticed that religious organziations, which "sell" eternal salvation, rely on donations. So do various activist and public policy organizations. Books in both industries usually sell to the true believers. Both are primarily about spreading (or even just preserving) a faith, not happiness. There's an enemy (devils, tyrants, etc.) to defeat, and because people are not even sure these enemies exist, it's a never-ending battle to win more hearts and minds to the cause.

The "self-help" industry doesn't seem to struggle like that. No wonder; the people already want the product. They don't need to be convinced that improving everything from their self-image to their net worth would be a good thing. Prospering in the self-help industry is like most others. It's some combination of salesmanship, quality, and price.

Some religious people are catching on. Hence we have mega-churches, and books like Prayer of Jabez sell in the millions. I'm not one to say if this is good or bad. But I do wonder if the key to "selling" or spreading liberty is to sell happiness first as the highest and ultimate goal, and work backward from there.

1 comment:

  1. Marshall Fritz and the Advocates for Self-Government may have been the first to try to "market" liberty like a consumer product. Fritz, as I understand it, is an old salesman who decided to apply sales techniques to promoting freedom and the libertarian ideals.

    May not be a bad idea.