Permission Marketing

Permission Marketing

What is it and how do the dynamics of this non-traditional technique translate into results for businesses that don’t necessarily have the reach of Google or Facebook?

I first read about the concept and was introduced to the term “permission marketing” in the March 1998 issue of Fast Company. The idea seemed radical at the time, but the concepts were fairly straight-forward and they still hold true today.

You tell consumers a little something about your company and its products, they tell you a little something about themselves, you tell them a little more, they tell you a little more—and over time, you create a mutually beneficial relationship.

A pioneer behind the strategy, Seth Godin—formerly of Yoyodyne, later sold to Yahoo—often draws upon the analogy of dating in that both romance and permission marketing are dependent upon a level of trust that is fostered over time.

In contrast, traditional marketing is what Godin often refers to as “interruption marketing.” A 30-second spot interrupts a television show. An interstitial interrupts an article you’re reading on the Web. A audio spot interrupts your favorite Pandora station. By constantly interrupting what we are doing at any given moment makes mass marketing doomed to fail.

This traditional model can be effective when life isn’t saturated by interruptions, but as we all know, overwhelming clutter in the marketplace is here to stay. This has made traditional advertising almost worthless for most marketers.

So how does one put this into practice, particularly given the fact that most organizations haven’t been organically collecting customer data for decades like Amazon?

The techniques still hold true. No matter your customer, permission is ultimately granted through frequency—a strategic, gradual exchange of offers, ideas, or knowledge—and the more a company is able to nurture that relationship the more a prospect is likely to make a purchase, and an existing customer is likely to increase spending. Why? because you’ve earned that customer’s attention.

Photo by Gianni Scognamiglio via Unsplash.