Are your marketing messages getting lost in the clutter of mail, e-mail, and advertising? Consider permission marketing, an exciting approach popularized by author and entrepreneur Seth Godin. Unlike conventional marketing strategies where you make a one-time pitch and hope the prospective customer responds favorably, permission marketing is all about building relationships with people who first agree to learn more about your company and its products or services. Because e-mail is the primary vehicle for permission marketing, your costs are substantially lower than with other marketing media. And the benefits go well beyond “making the sale.”
If permission marketing sounds like an attractive option for your small business, now is the time to start learning more about it. In just 60 seconds, we’ll get you started on laying the groundwork for a sound permission marketing strategy.
00:56 What Can You Offer?
According to Godin, “Consumers will grant a company permission to communicate only if they know what’s in it for them. A company has to reward consumers, explicitly or implicitly, for paying attention to its messages.” In other words, provide something that your customers will want to learn more about and may be unable to find elsewhere. Some examples include regular e-newsletters with timely news or tips related to your product or service, links to and/or reviews of new and updated Web sites, and problem/solution case studies.
00:45 Build Your Target List
Gather contact information for as many potential customer contacts as you think will be interested in being part of your permission marketing list. Sources include industry directories, Web sites, current customers, and their referrals. Then, find the group that is most profitable or most likely to influence other customers. Fine-tune your permission marketing approach to them, as these are the people you most want to build relationships with. Group the others in descending order of priority for subsequent marketing.
00:38 Prepare Your Pitch
As with any other marketing approach, you should put yourself in the customer’s position. You may have some valuable information to offer, but your customers will end the relationship before it starts if you don’t grab and hold their attention. Says Godin, “The point of permission marketing is not just to entertain people (although it does need to be entertaining) but also to teach them about your products.”
00:24 Think Ahead
Remember that permission marketing builds trust via a two-way relationship with your customers. You need to be ready to talk about their needs and concerns, not simply to get their business. Testing some iterations of your permission marketing strategy with people who can give honest and objective feedback is a great way to make sure you’re on the right track.
00:17 Reinforce the Relationship
As your permission marketing program flourishes, there is no telling which direction it will take. But never forget to remind your customers how and why the “conversation” started. The authors of ClickZ, an online e-mail marketing resource, suggest including a simple statement in each e-mail, “either as the introduction at the top or as part of your remove language. Even desirable content or offers are suspect if the recipients cannot connect the e-mail message to their relationship with the sender.”
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