Permission Marketing 101
Five Tips for Launching an Effective Marketing Campaign
Remember the days when companies solicited your business by bombarding you with random telephone calls at all hours of the day (and night)? Although robocalling as a marketing strategy is not completely a thing of the past, the advent of the “do not call” list and the Internet have certainly made it a less effective mode of attracting customers.Today, savvy businesses are increasingly moving away from that variety of unsolicited advertising which we all encounter daily through print, mail, and television, often referred to as “interruption marketing.” Instead, many companies have become inspired by a technique called permission marketing, which was popularized by well-respected entrepreneur Seth Godin. With permission marketing, companies don’t waste their time and money by broadly disseminating their advertisements to the general public. Instead, they focus their marketing strategies on individuals who have either expressly or implicitly requested information about the company. In this way, businesses are more likely to target a captive audience of individuals who are actually interested in the products being offered. In turn, those individuals are also more likely to make a purchase.
The following techniques will help you incorporate permission marketing ideas into an advertising campaign of any kind.
1. Recognize the Limitations Inherent in the Old Way of Doing Things.
Interruption marketing is still around. In fact, it’s everywhere. Conventional television spots, for example, are still a fixture in modern programming. However, it has become much more difficult for companies to make their ads stand out. When watching a television show, modern viewers often regard commercials as an annoyance. As a result, many people simply tune out. In addition, new features like digital video recording, or DVR, permit viewers to tape shows ahead of time and fast forward through the advertisements.
Although traditional versions of interruption advertising like television commercials may have held consumers’ attention decades ago, we now live in a digital era where there are simply too many interruptions out there, so companies have to do more. Proponents of permission marketing like Seth Godin suggest that its techniques provide a solution to this relatively new problem.
2. Identify Your Target Customer.
The first step in identifying those who may consent to receiving your advertising material is to seize your list of past or existing customers. Although these folks may already be loyal to your brand, maintaining their patronage is just as important as expanding the business.
Next, consider the profile of your typical customer. Then, research that person’s likely interests and tastes. This can help you determine the best platform to identify your target customers. For example, if your company sells expensive women’s shoes to a mostly young consumer base, getting the attention of people visiting websites that have substantial fashion content might be a good option. In the alternative, if you’re marketing products to an elderly crowd that is less likely to be surfing the web, the Internet might not be the best place to start.
3. Give Them a Reason to Volunteer.
After you find the proper forum, you need to entice people to sign up. The key is to find a way to get their attention and make them want to learn more. Once you do that, you will have piqued their curiosity, and they will give you permission to market your products to them.
A popular way to get consumers’ attention is to offer a small gift (everyone loves free stuff!). However, in exchange for the gift, consumers have to provide you with permission to target them. Another idea is to host a contest or a drawing with an attractive payout. In exchange for being entered in the contest or drawing, consumers provide you with their permission. In both instances, the cost of the gifts or prizes is often small compared to the potentially valuable consumer information which can be very helpful in targeting interested purchasers.
4. Embrace Technology
The Internet is the epicenter of the permission marketing world. In fact, websites are probably the easiest places to post that attention-getting information that will entice a consumer to grant you their permission to target them. The actual “permission” should come with contact information, such as email addresses. Thereafter, companies can send product information or special offers to folks who have an interest in the company’s product line.
Social media is another easy way to incorporate permission marketing strategies. For example, when a Facebook user “likes” a company’s Page, that click implicitly grants the company permission to market products to that person and ensures that its message will regularly reach its intended recipients.
5. Target Frequently, but Not Too Frequently.
Just as the once-common constant onslaught of telephone solicitations became annoying and ineffective, targeting those who have graciously granted you their permission too often can be troublesome. Daily emails, for example, will quickly make their way into a junk box. Instead, time your advertising strategically to coincide with important milestones, such as the debut of a new product or a special promotion.
(Seth Godin image from Wikimedia)
About the Author
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of personalized pens and other promotional products such as imprinted apparel, mugs and customized calendars. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.