Marketing and selling have changed. In the old days (think 20th century),
marketing was more like military combat. You’d find your market and you’d force
your message on them whether they were interested or not.
Sometimes you’d focus on certain people for specific reasons. Other times,
you would just fire away at whoever was in range. (This latter method was often
called the “three foot rule” and was taught by a lot of sales trainers.)
But, like I said, marketing and selling have changed, because customers have
changed. People are tired of getting clobbered by so many companies and
salespeople selling so many things they are not interested in.
A symptom of this are the anti-telemarketing laws passed in the USA in the
last 10 (or so) years. They are the people’s response to an industry that got
out of control. They are the customer’s way of saying, “Enough! Stop pestering
me with offers I have no interest in.”
Enter permission marketing.
As far as I know, Seth Godin coined the
term “permission marketing”. It means you promote your products or services to
people who are interested in what you have to offer. You know they are
interested because they have given you permission to talk about your product or
If they don’t give you permission, they are not yet interested. So back
This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t promote. You do. But you do it in
ways that are not invasive and disruptive to people. You don’t get in their face
with your unwanted, unsolicited message.
Remember the vampire.
Vampires cannot enter your house unless you give them explicit permission.
Deny them permission and they have to stay out. You remain safe from them as
long as you reject their advances.
So, as you promote your product or service to people, think like a vampire in
this way. Don’t trample all over them with your offers, your features and your
benefits, until they’ve given you permission.
But beware. Vampires have a nasty habit that makes them difficult to be
In their quest for blood, vampires will portray themselves in whatever way
they need to win permission. They’ll seduce their victims by offering them
whatever it takes to gain entrance. Once in though, their promises become
moot. They focus only on their objectives. They go directly after what they want
with no regard for what their victim would like.
Too many salespeople (and companies) act just like this. They’ll promise the
sun and the moon to get you to commit. Once you do though, you find much of what
they said was misleading or just plain false.
It’s fake marketing. It happens when people (salespeople, marketing people,
business owners, executives) focus on what they want instead of what their
customers want. It happens because some people forget that the best way to get
what you want is by helping others get what they want. (Hat tip to to Zig
So to get more customers and keep them coming back, remember these two traits
of the vampire. First, don’t hound people with your offers. Get permission from
them before you engage them in a conversation about your product.
Second, forget about what you want. Focus your intentions on helping people
get what they want. You’ll build more credibility and trust with more people
this way. This helps you develop more relationships with people who become your