What Internet Marketer Seth Godin, author of the book Permission Marketing, calls permission marketing.
Permission marketing is when your customers give you permission to market to them. This is opposite from traditional marketing, also known as interruption marketing (another term coined by Godin).
Interruption marketing works by interrupting you. Nobody watches television for the commercials. Nobody flips through a magazine for the ads. But thats how interruption marketing gets you to buy something.
Permission marketing is completely different. With permission marketing, customers look forward to hearing from you. They LIKE receiving information about your products and services. Thats because theyve agreed to enter into a relationship with you. And if permission marketing is done correctly, youll eventually develop a stronger relationship with your customers than you ever would have with interruption marketing. (But that doesnt mean interruption marketing doesnt have its place. More on that later.)
Permission marketing isnt new. In fact, its older than interruption marketing. Back before there was mass media, business owners routinely developed long-term relationships with their customers. And customers expected to be involved with the selling process from the beginning.
Now, of course, we no longer need to be dependent on building relationships face-to-face. With the Internet, we have a whole host of low-cost options available to us, which makes permission marketing easier now than it was before.
Heres how it works. You start by developing something that your customers find valuable enough to give you permission to contact them on a regular basis. E-newsletters or e-zines, which are e-mail newsletters, are popular and so are Web blogs. Web blogs are like online journals. For a fun sample, check out http://www.boingboing.net Or Seth Godin has his own blog http://www.sethgodin.com
But e-zines and Web blogs arent the only things of value people sign up for you can offer them classes delivered via e-mail or tips or contests or points programs or special offers or whatever your creativity can come up with.
While it is possible to develop a relationship with customers using only offline techniques (for instance, a printed newsletter you mail to your customers) its less expensive and more effective to use the Internet. Its quick and easy for your customers to sign up via your Web site and its cheap for you to send it out via e-mail.
However, in order to get people to sign up, you first need to tell them about it. Thats where interruption marketing comes in. You still need to get the word out about what youre offering. Then once they sign up, you can start building the relationship.
Is this a lot of work? Yes. Is it more work than interruption marketing? Yes again. But is it more effective than interruption marketing? It can be. Especially since interruption marketing isnt working the way it used to.
I feel that permission marketing favors small business owners. Thats because permission marketing only works when customers and businesses form a relationship, and customers prefer forming relationships with people rather than entities. Customers want to know the person behind the business, not just the business itself.
But that doesnt mean big corporations cant employ permission marketing techniques. They just need to get creative about it. Perhaps developing a spokesperson or a business personality or a forum or group of people.
The important thing is to start thinking about how marketing is changing and what you can do about it.