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Permission Marketing

By Pat Chappell

Reinventing the way you relate to your customers.

Marketing is a contest for people’s attention. Traditional mass marketing fights for people’s attention by interrupting them. A 30-sec. spot interrupts your favorite program. A telemarketer interrupts your dinner. This has been effective in the past. But now there has been a paradigm shift. There is too much information – too much going on – and we’re overloaded with interruptions. This year the average consumer will see or hear 1 million marketing messages – that’s almost 3,000 per day. No one can pay attention to that level of clutter. So our natural response is to ignore it!

The new challenge being put forth in marketing is to persuade consumers to volunteer their attention – a concept called "permission marketing" – to learn more about a company and its products and services. The term has been coined by an East Coast marketing firm called Yoyodyne. Their clients include MCI, AOL and others, and they are convinced that permission marketing turns strangers into loyal customers.

These campaigns all use e-mail, the Web and other on-line media, and are built around contests, game shows, or sweepstakes. It works like this: consumers give you permission to send them messages in return for a chance to win prizes they care about. You tell them a little something, they tell you a little something. Over time, as this cycle repeats itself, you create a mutually beneficial relationship.

You still have to get people’s attention and that still costs a lot of money – but the concept here is that getting the attention of your customer is only the beginning, not the end.

You move from attention to permission, permission to learning, learning to trust. Only then do you get your customers to do what you want them to do.

Customers will grant permission to communicate only when they know what’s in it for them –

Step one: you’re eligible to win a T-shirt

Step two: you’re eligible for a vacation

Step three – you’re playing to win $100,000

And the net is a powerful tool in this because you can communicate instantly via e-mail- frequently, unobtrusively and quickly. This is direct mail with free stamps! That’s why people get so nervous about spam. But if you get "permission" to use email to deliver marketing messages, and if people agree to pay attention to those messages, you’ve eliminated that problem.

This style of marketing changes the way you evaluate, too. You care about relationships, not permissions – how many people have given you permission to talk to them, what are you talking to them about – are you teaching them about your products/services.

How does this apply to income generation? Think Book of the Month Club- once a month you put in your customers mailbox 3 things you want them to try, know or buy…based on their preferences which they have told you about.

4 Questions to Answer Before Beginning a Permission Campaign

  1. Does every marketing effort encourage a learning relationship with your customers – does it invite them to raise their hands and start communicating?
  2. Do you have a database to track the number of people who have signed up?
  3. What will you say to them? Do you have a "curriculum" to teach people about your product/service?
  4. Once they have signed up, what will you do to deepen your permission to continue communicating with them?


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