Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends and Friends Into Customers

“The basic idea of permission marketing is very simple: Each of us is born with only a certain amount of time on this earth, and figuring out how to use it wisely is one of life’s primary activities. “Paying attention” to something - anything - is, in fact, a conscious act, requiring conscious effort. So one way to sell a consumer something in the future is simply to get his or her permission in advance. You’ll do this by engaging the consumer in a dialogue - an interactive relationship, with both you and the customer participating. Rather than simply interrupting a television show with a commercial or barging into the consumer’s life with an unannounced phone call or letter, tomorrows marketer will first try and gain the consumer’s consent to participate in the selling process. Perhaps the consumer will give his permission because he is volunteering to learn more about a particular product or class of products. Or perhaps you’ll actually offer some type of payment or benefit in return for the consumer’s permission.”
“As a business, if you do it right, the dialogue and involvement of a customer will lead to customer loyalty, for that customer. The more the customer is engaged - the more he or she has collaborated with you to fashion the service you are rendering or the product you are selling - the more likely the customer will be to remain loyal to you, rather than going to the trouble of switching this collaborative activity to one of your competitors.”
“Consumers are now willing to pay handsomely to save time, while marketers are eager to pay bundles to get attention.”
“The incentive you offer to the customer can range from information, to entertainment, to a sweepstakes, to outright payment for the prospects attention. But the incentive must be overt, obvious, and clearly delivered. This is the most obvious.”
“Since the prospect has agreed to pay attention it’s much easier to teach him about your product. Instead of filling each ensuing message with entertainment designed to attract attention or with sizzle designed to attract the attention of strangers, the permission marketer is able to focus on the product benefits - on specific, focused ways this product will help that prospect. Without question, this ability to talk freely over time is the most powerful element of this marketing approach.”
“Anticipated - people look forward to hearing from you. Personal - the messages are directly related to the individual. Relevant - the marketing is about something the prospect is interested in.”
“Peppers and Rogers presented a manifesto for how companies can increase their profits by selling more things to fewer customers. In other words, they believe it’s wiser to focus more on increasing sales to a smaller percentage of your existing customers than to find new ones.”
“Increase the durability of customer relationships. Invest money in customer retention, because its a small fraction of the cost of customer acquisition.”
“Create an interactive relationship that leads to meeting more customer needs. It’s a cycle. By constantly encouraging the consumer to give more information, the marketer can offer more products.”
“Permission marketing almost always follows the same simple steps. Each campaign is very different, but the concepts behind each step remain the same. Simply stated, you interrupt customers with a message designed to get them to raise their hand. That’s the way they volunteer or say “yes” to begin a rewarding exchange of information accomplished over time, which builds trust that you can leverage into a sales relationship. But the first step is still to interrupt the consumer. That’s one reason there will always be socially acceptable interruption marketing media. We need to get that initial attention.”
“At each step, the only goal of the next step is to expand permission.”
“This is the big win here. By leveraging one interruption across numerous communications, the permission marketer has an unfair advantage. One message becomes six or ten or a hundred. A momentary interruption becomes a dialogue that can last for weeks or months.”
“Before a marketer can build trust, it must breed familiarity. But there’s no familiarity without awareness. And awareness - the science of letting people know you exist and getting them to understand you message - can’t happen effectively in today’s environment without advertising.”
“Frequency led to awareness, awareness to familiarity, and familiarity to trust. And trust, almost without exception, leads to profit.”
“It’s a new game now. A game in which the limited supply of attention, not factories.”
“The biggest secret of the internet is that it is inherently a direct marketing medium.”
“Permission is non transferable. Permission is selfish. Permission is a process, not a moment. Permission can be canceled at any time."
“The heart of permission marketing is giving the stranger a reason to pay attention, while interruption marketers hold people hostage.”
“Scheherazade know how to use this technique. She lived (according to the fable) in an Arabian land ruled by a crazy dictator. Every day the dictator married another beautiful woman. He enjoyed their honeymoon and the next day had her beheaded. When it came to Scheherazade’s turn, she had the natural insecurity of a permission marketer - she knew that she might be canceled the next day. Her strategy was brilliant. That night, before she and the king went to bed, she told him a story. It was personal and relevant, and the king was eager to hear what happened next. A few paragraphs before the end Scheherazade decided that she was too tired to continue and promised to finish the story later. The next morning she turned to the king and said, “I guess it’s time for my beheading.” The king, eager to hear how the story turned out, demurred. “No, my dear. We can wait until tomorrow. Tonight you will complete the story for me.” You can probably guess the ending. Each night for 1,001 nights, Scheherazade finished a story and then told a new story, promising the ending tomorrow. After more than three years, the king forgot all about beheading her, and she had a customer for life.”
“What are the first steps to take to get started with permission marketing? You can walk before you run. In order, here’s what you should do: Figure out the lifetime value of a new customer. Without this data it will be extremely difficult to compute what it’s worth to acquire a new permission.”
“Invent and build a series of communication suites that you will use to turn strangers into friends. This can be a series of emails, a series of letters, a number of scripts to use in phone conversations, a series of web pages, and so on.”
“Change all of your advertising to include a call to action. Never run an ad of any kind that doesn’t give consumers a chance to respond. Once they respond, initiate one of the communication suites.”
“Measure the results of each suite. Throw out the bottom 60 percent and replace them with new suites. Continue testing different approaches forever.”
“Assign one person to guard the permission base. Have that person focus on increasing the level of permission gained from each individual and reward her for resisting short-term profiteering.”