Permission Marketing

Traditional marketing involved grabbing people where they were and shouting your message at them. Newspapers would claim that thousands of households would see your ad and TV stations would share their estimates of the number of households that viewed their programs.

The fact that many of those viewers spent commercial time in the kitchen or the bathroom was ignored, as was the fact that the newspaper ad often ended up on the bottom of a cat box.

Increasing numbers of people admit that they ignore ads or intentionally avoid them. An Adweek study found that — leaving aside the people who simply block ads — 63% intentionally ignore internet ads. Deloitte found that 86% of people fast-forward through TV ads when they have the technology to do so. Only 9% of respondents in a Harris Interactive study reported paying attention to ads at all.

It’s not that people don’t want to buy things. It’s that they want to find information about stuff they want when they want it — not to be told about things they don’t want when they aren’t interested.

People probably would probably always have preferred to get information about stuff they wanted to buy only when they wanted that information, but they didn’t have the option. Now, you can choose when to get news and from whom, you can watch TV programs on your schedule instead of on the network’s schedule, and you can see marketing materials only when you want to and only from companies you find interesting.

Enter permission marketing.

Modern permission marketing is about getting permission from people to contact them.

“Can I call or email you sometime?” you’re saying, with offers or requests like these, “or can I maybe post something where you’ll see it?”:

  • Follow us on Twitter!
  • Download our white paper, ebook, or free sample — after you give us your email address.
  • Enter our sweepstakes with your email and a Like.
  • Pay with a Tweet — we’ll give you something of value when you share the news that you accepted it.
  • Subscribe to our email newsletter.

The idea is to get permission to put things in front of these prospective customers. You get a hot list of people who are actually interested in what you have to offer, and they get something of value.

And there’s the crux of the matter. You have to offer something of value.

Companies that fill their Twitter streams with ad copy are perceived negatively, and people don’t follow them. When they send out messages with Twitter to individuals in an effort to grab attention in the old-fashioned way, they’re reported as spammers.

Develop a relationship with your audience over time by providing valuable information, beautiful pictures, or entertaining activities. Then, when you want to say something, they’ll be willing to listen to you.

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