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Permission Marketing

Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers

By Seth Godin
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Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers by Seth Godin
Synopsis

Permission Marketing (1999) confronts the conflicts and challenges that modern marketers face in the digital age and offers a viable alternative. It explains how the advertising landscape is filling up and how this makes traditional advertising ineffective. The author suggests that smart marketers no longer simply interrupt consumers but invite them to volunteer their time and become active participants in the marketing process.

Key idea 1 of 9

Permission Marketing is a more effective marketing technique where consumers volunteer their attention.

If Interruption Marketing no longer works, then what does?

The answer is Permission Marketing, a technique where consumers themselves decide whether or not to permit companies to market to them.

The Interruption Marketing process bombards the consumer with advertisements without their consent, as is the case with a television commercial interrupting a TV show to tell consumers to buy a product.

Permission Marketing, on the other hand, involves a conscious acceptance on the part of the customer. It can take the form of, for example, a television commercial that invites consumers to “find out more about this product.” By having the opportunity to accept or decline the invitation, the customer gets more control over their own time and attention, and this empowers them.

A good example of Permission Marketing used effectively is Hooked on Phonics, a US-based company that helps children improve their reading skills. The company launched a radio advertising campaign that simply invited parents to call a hotline to learn more. It was up to parents whether or not they wanted to make the call, and all messages and communication after that point were invited and therefore anticipated.

As active participants in the process, consumers are more likely to pay attention to the marketing message. They are not asked to commit to a product or service; they are simply asked to give some of their attention to learn more about it. Those customers who choose to accept the message become ideal audience members for any further messages throughout the process, as they have consciously chosen to actively pay attention. By responding, they’ve agreed to hear what you have to say.

Permission Marketing is a more effective marketing technique where consumers volunteer their attention.

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