Bookshelf: Permission Marketing

Rose Anne Huck, manager of our Poplar Bluff office brings you today’s book review.

Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers.
By Seth Godin

Internet marketing pioneer Seth Godin says we must change the way almost everything is marketed today. 

Our author, Seth Godin, speaks to us about the demise of the age of interruption Marketing with the arrival of Permission Marketing. In this groundbreaking book, Godin describes the four tests of Permission Marketing:

  1. Does every single marketing effort you create encourage a learning relationship with your customers? Does it invite customers to “raise their hands” and start communicating?
  2. Do you have a permission database? Do you track the number of people who have given you permission to communicate with them?
  3. If consumers gave you permission to talk to them, would you have anything to say? Have you developed a marketing curriculum to teach people about your products?
  4. Once people become customers, do you work to deepen your permission to communicate with those people?

With case study after case study, Godin walks us through good and bad examples of using the power of Permission Marketing to grow a business and customer base.

We are encouraged to follow-up with a full “suite of follow-up messages” for permission given. The suite of messages is a leveraged sequence of communication designed to strengthen our position and build trust.

You can easily do the math. Drive traffic to your site to collect their contact information. For every x percent who give you permission, you’ll generate $Y in sales. To finish the equation all you need is your conversion rate which you may be able to pull from your sales and marketing records.

The key is not to focus on permission acquisition on-line but rather build to it into what you’re already doing in your marketing efforts.

Think of it this way: an Interruption Marketer is a hunter. A Permission Marketer is a farmer.

Seth Godin uses a charming analogy to demonstrate the differences between Permission Marketing and Interruption Marketing.

First Scenario: A man gets a new suit, shoes, all the accessories and heads to a singles bar. He has an engagement ring in his pocket. He proposes marriage over and over hoping for someone to take him up on his offer. As you can imagine, he suffers many rejections.

Second Scenario: A man chooses a likely prospective date. Asks her out to dinner and a movie (appropriate incentives). They spend time together. Go out again. Meet the family. Eventually he proposes marriage and gets an emphatic  “Yes!”

This approach is about building quality connections where there is mutual trust which in the long-term should result in greater sales per contact than any other system.

When we look at it this way, it is hard to imagine doing marketing any other way. It is also obvious that Permission Marketing requires a greater investment of time and resources. Permission Marketing results grow over time. They is measurable. These are the opposite of Interruption Marketing.

One hundred years ago small businesses ruled the world. They were responsive, trusted and capable. They offered samples or use of products before purchase and the company owner or sales person spent extra time with customers before the sale. It would not have been unusual for the company owner to be your neighbor. Oh my, how times have changed for most companies.

The KEY to Permission Marketing is in building a series of steps designed to get prospects to take the next step in the process. Let’s take a look at this example: Camp Arowhon

  1. Permission Marketing for the camp starts with an interruption message using an ad to order free information in the form of a brochure and video.
  2. The brochure and video are designed to sell a personal meeting – not sell camp registration.
  3. The visit sells the camp. After attending camp for one summer, campers are sold on the camp for an average of 6 summers plus referrals. This nets approximately $20,000 per family.

At each step the goal is to expand permission, not to make the final sale.

By not focusing on the sale, marketers are able to get far more out of their expenditures. Response rates to free samples, an affinity program or birthday club is 5 to 10 times higher than responses pushing for the sale.

When you are making your offer, the less you ask and the bigger the bribe, the more likely the consumer will bite. This guarantees your chance to deepen the permission with the next level.

Three important keys to keep in mind:

  1. Be personal.
  2. Be relevant.
  3. Be specific.

The first sale is the beginning of the relationship, NOT the ultimate goal. The Ultimate Goal is mutually beneficial – a relationship which grows over time. You supply their need. They pay you. You provide more. They buy more and so forth and so on.

If you find need to start with high cost interruption marketing, you want to leverage the cost of the first interruption across multiple interactions. In this instance it definitely pays to approach your audience in as many ways as possible.

TRUST is EVERYTHING! Without trust there are no sales. Trust means the prospect believes in the product and the company. Think of it this way, you have a different level of trust with a high-end jeweler versus the guy on the street with a briefcase of jewelry.

Building trust is a Step by Step process which requires time, money and commitment. Frequency builds familiarity and familiarity builds trust. When you first run your ad 10% of your market will remember it. If you run 30 days in a row, by the law of averages, eventually everyone will remember your ad. Frequency causes the consumer to focus on the message. Like repeating yourself to a 4-year-old helps get the point across – or training a dog or horse.

Statistically when you increase your frequency by 100% you increase your effectiveness by 400%! Frequency and trust outweigh reach and its glamour.

This book is packed with the fundamentals needed to connect with you audience in a way that resonates with them and will lead to relationships that are beneficial for you both.

One of my favorite examples used in the book is the LL Bean catalog company. Their inventory stays relatively unchanged year after year. There are a few tweaks but nothing extensive. LL Bean sends out catalogs over and over again even though the last book you got probably has not changed very much. Their loyal followers welcome these new books and peruse them and continue to buy from them year after year. This is the relationship we all need. Customers and prospects who are happy to receive our sales message and who trust us to deliver quality.

Permission Marketing was written in 1999 but remains an authoritative source of information. Many if not most of Godin’s predictions have come true. He was and is so far out front that even now, we are still working to implement what he preached then.

One last suggestion: Read it and read it soon.

To find out more about Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing book, visit http://sethgodin.com/sg/