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Don't Call Yourself a Permission Marketer When You Are a Direct Marketer

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Permission Marketing is like dating: like you would your date, permission marketers treat their customers with respect, and invest ample amount of time and energy to the development of the relationship. Learn why this approach is better than the more traditional "brute-force" marketing.

What is Permission Marketing?

Permission Marketing is similar to dating: the subject in this case is your customer. Like you would your date, permission marketers treat their customers with respect, and invest ample amount of time and energy to the development of the relationship. Most Internet marketers, however, favor the brute force approach to marketing. Instead of building relationships with their customers, they thoughtlessly push products as frequently as possible to reach short-term results. This is analogous to making a marriage proposal to a stranger on a first date — even if some customers say "yes", the frail relationship will soon end on a bad note.

Permission Marketing is a practice that involves the meticulous management of trust, as marketers strategically leverage trust into dependence, and dependence into profit. Through this process, decision-making powers are gradually shifted towards marketers and casual customers are transformed into loyal members. When carried out correctly, Permission Marketing is the most effective and sustainable marketing methodology.

Permission Marketing is a scientific process with methodologies and best practices. It is a merger of traditional marketing concepts (such as branding and consumer behavior) with Internet specific technologies, tools and business models. Permission Marketing speaks real-time statistics that facilitates continued adaptation and learning — making campaigns measurable and profits sustainable.

Figure 1

Specifically, the three pillars of Permission Marketing are:

  1. Anticipated for acceptance (Cut through the clutter)

  2. Personalized for relevance (Empower customers with choice)

  3. Trusted for dependence (Shift decision-making power to marketers)

In the context of email marketing, Permission Marketing manages the relationship between not two but three parties — the marketer, the advertiser and the customer — the last of which is often neglected in Direct Marketing and Interruption Marketing. Building customer relationships based on these three pillars will produce a rare breed of customers who will anxiously await your message amidst other email clutter that competes for their limited attention.

Figure 2

Ultimately, the marketer’s goal is twofold: first, they must gain enough customer trust to be allowed to make decisions on the client’s behalf; and second, they must be able to predict campaign outcomes. An extreme example of such power-shift can be seen when consumers allow Columbia House to purchase CDs on their behalf. Amazon.com, claimed by critics as the world’s most customer-centric company, is working towards a derivative of the Columbia House model via Permission Marketing concepts and a state-of-the-art data-mining infrastructure.

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