Square Social on Permission Marketing

James Thomas, Square Social

Permission marketing, a term first coined by marketing guru Seth Godin, is the act of earning ‘permission’ to market to a prospect. As Seth suggests, today’s marketers need to recognise the consumer’s power to ignore marketing, and that treating them with respect is the best way to capture their attention. Why is capturing the attention of your prospects important? If you’ve ever been on the end of a cold call at dinner time, by far one of the most irritating experiences known to man, you’ll recognise the importance of attention.

How to Gain ‘Permission’ To Market

Now that we’ve established a basic definition of what permission marketing is, and why it’s important, let’s dive right into the ‘how’. Marketing is largely psychology, the two are interchangeable. The best way to earn permission to market to your target audience is to apply the reciprocity principle – simple psychology.
The reciprocity principle is ingrained into human behaviour and has been around since the dawn of time, it’s helped allow us to progress from simple cavemen into a technologically sophisticated society.

The principle is simple and it’s basically this – if you offer me some form of value, I’ll likely reciprocate and offer you some in return. What does this mean in laymen’s terms? It means if you want to earn permission to market to your target audience, give them some free value. I’m not saying go out and buy hundreds of people lunch by any means, but what I am saying is, think hard about what your customers and prospects value, then give that to them in some form.

The best and most cost effective way to do this is through information. Information costs you nothing but your time and effort. Let’s say you’re a real estate agent for example. Your target market could be high net worth entrepreneurs looking to invest in property for the first time. Why not create a high quality guide for first time property investors and give this away on your website – ‘Property Investing for Beginners’. Newbie property investors are going to be hungry for any knowledge they can get their hands on, and this free information will not only likely endear them to your brand and develop thought leadership, but probably develop into a sale when the prospect realises they require the help of a professional. The same principle can be applied across the board, regardless of your industry or profession. There is no such thing as ‘a boring industry’ or a service where ‘it just won’t work’, your offering is as boring as you make it.

I Get It, Now What?

Now that you understand the concept of permission marketing, it’s time to begin creating your own strategy and applying this concept to your own sales strategy. First of all, determine who your target market is. Secondly, determine what can you offer that will be of value to them? Finally, figure out how you’re going to distribute this information and make sure it’s read by the right people.

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