A Beginner’s Guide to Permission Marketing

How many ads do you see every day? Between the ads on tv, on the radio, on Youtube, and billboards on the road, we’re absolutely overloaded. And then there are the banner ads on websites, coupons in the mail, and ads that interrupt any free game that you have on your phone. Some estimates put the number of ads we see per day at about 5,000.

Considering that number, how many ads do you think that people really internalize? Everyone today has built defense mechanisms to tune out the ads all around them and focus on what they actually want.

The Old Way: The TV-Industrial Complex

Seth Godin calls the traditional pattern of ads the “tv-industrial complex,” wherein companies purchase as many ads as they can to interrupt people, grab their attention, and compel them to buy. It’s built off of that keyword: interruption. Your goal is to distract people from what they’re working on right now. It’s built on repetition, catchy tunes, and colors that grab attention. However, with the level of saturation that we all experience, marketing is moving in a new direction. This is commonly called “permission-based marketing.”

The New Way: Permission Based Marketing

Permission based marketing is about building a contract with your customers. It’s not about interruption, or exploitation. It’s a slowly-established relationship of trust. The ultimate example of permission based marketing is subscriptions. That means people who opt in for emails, who want to know about a new blog post, and most of all, who ASK where you went if they haven’t heard from you in a while.

5 Essential Rules

So how do you build this slowly-established relationship of trust? Here are 5 important rules.

  1. Never violate trust. That means never taking advantage of an email address given in good faith, or making followers feel spammed or used.
  2. Find YOUR audience. Don’t bother with mass media that will appeal to everyone and offend no one. You’re looking for a tribe of people who are passionate about your product or brand. These are the people who drive across town for something they love, and once you’ve found niche success with them, it spreads to the masses.
  3. Give value. Customers don’t follow you because they care about you unless they’re your grandparents. Your followers follow you because you have something of value to offer THEM. So don’t get into the “me” trap. Always talk about “us.”
  4. Be remarkable. How do you think viral videos become viral? It’s not about gaming the system. It’s about being remarkable. When you produce something that’s unique and startling, it spreads organically because people remark on it.
  5. Just ask. Do you want to mobilize your network? Don’t resort to tricks. Just ask! If you’ve been upholding your side of the contract, they’ll be happy to share.

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