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Permission Marketing – From strangers to friends. From friends to customers.

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Seth Godin, a very famous entrepreneur, author and public speaker (I’m sure you know him, if you don’t, please google), wrote Permission Marketing in 1999. Even though it’s not a new book, its principles are still considered essential for any marketeer. Here I’ll sum up some of ideas Seth put on the book.

Interruption Marketing

Did you remember when we used to have only five channels on TV? Everyone was part of the same community, watched the same commercials, discussed the same programs and bought the same type of things. This made it all easier for marketeers, they basically relied exclusively on one type of advertising, which Seth calls – Interruption Marketing. This is defined by “the science of creating and placing media that interrupts the consumer and then gets him or her to take some action”. This used to work in a world where the audience wasn’t as segment, people nowadays don’t care as much as they used to.

From Mass to Niche – The evolution

Companies have noticed that mass market strategy isn’t working as well as it used to. They’ve tried to overcome this by spending more advertising in odd places, such as ads on parking meters, floor of the supermarket aisle, etc. Another technique used was making ads more controversial and entertainment, and changing those ads more often in order to keep them interesting and fresh. The last approach was to abandon ads and replace them with direct email and promotions.

Although this worked for a while, interruption marketing still fails because it is unable to get enough attention from consumers.

Permission Marketing

Different from a mass marketing approach, “permission marketing encourages consumers to participate in a long-term, interactive marketing campaign in which they are rewarded in some way for paying attention to increasingly relevant messages”.

Most of us understand now that targeting customers individually isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Staff and budget doesn’t have to be that huge. “Permission marketing takes the cost of interrupting the consumer and spreads it out, over not one message, but dozens of messages”. Interruption marketers are all about spending money with strangers, people they don’t know but assume might be potential customers. Permission marketers think this is too risky, and it doesn’t drive as much result. Instead, they “move as quickly as they can to turn strangers into prospects who choose to opt-in to series of commutations”. You create a relationship with consumers since the beginning, and motivate the consumer to five more and more permission over time.

The Pros and Cons

Permission marketing campaigns require patience. You need to believe in the concept, growing it over time. Even a not very good interruption marketing campaign gets instant results, while permission campaigns take longer, they are build a stronger relationship and are easier to measure.

Getting a new customer is expensive, you need to get his attention and educate him about your business. If you think about it, it’s also expensive for the customer, who has to learn and evaluate the benefits and features of a product he does not know. Permission marketing, instead of focusing on getting new customers, it’s all about keeping customers longer and getting more money from each of them over time.

The New Process

Seth says the process of getting new customers needs to be reengineered. Some of the marketers “don’t notice, track or interact with people until they are a customer. And some don’t even pay close attention until the consumer becomes a loyal customer”. It looks simple, but it’s essential to look at it like this if you want to create meaningful relationships and long term customers. It’s necessary to nurture strangers from the moment they indicated interest in your business.

Strangers – Friends – Customers – Loyal Customers – Former Customers

But remember, you can’t build a one to one relationship with a customer unless he explicitly agrees to it. Similar thing happens when you have a current customer which is not inside this process, which doesn’t mean quality for the future of business. You might think about firing him! I know this sounds harsh, but Seth’s got a point. “A customer that distracts you, or one that cherry picks your line of products, or one that requires a disproportionate percentage of your company’s time and resources, is going to cost you money”.


Written by Cristina Dresch

June 24, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Posted in Marketing, Media, Strategy

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