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Permission Marketing: Seth Godin's Guide to "Dating" Your Customer

Permission Marketing: Seth Godin's Guide to "Dating" Your Customer Blog Feature

Ramona Sukhraj

Head of Editorial Content, Strategized Initiatives That Increased IMPACT’s Website Traffic From ~45K to ~400K

September 14th, 2015 min read

permission-marketing-seth-godin-dating-your-customerWouldn't it be nice if your customers came to you, instead of having to chase them down?

In Seth Godin's book Permission Marketing, he shows you exactly how to accomplish that.

Traditional outbound, advertising methods, sometimes called "Interruption Marketing" aim to grab our attention away from something we're already doing.

Whether it be a TV commercial or a magazine ad, it interrupts what we were doing, in hopes that we'll be interested in the offer.

Permission Marketing, on the other hand, offers an opportunity for consumers to choose whether or not to be marketed to. 

Much like Inbound Marketing, it only targeting volunteers, Permission Marketing assures that the consumers pay more attention to the Marketing message.

It encourages consumers to engage in a long-standing, cooperative Marketing campaign rather than shoving its sales pitch into their faces.

Seth Godin Describes Permission Marketing as Dating Your Customer in Five Steps

  1. Offer the prospect an incentive to volunteer their contact information. (Convert)
  2. Once you've gained their attention, offer a curriculum over time, teaching them about your product or service. (Nurture)
  3. Reinforce the incentive by consistently providing value to guarantee that the prospect maintains their permission.
  4. Offer additional incentives to get even more permission from them. 
  5. Over time, leverage the permission to change consumer behavior toward profits. (Close)

As you can see, this is essentially the process of effective Inbound Marketing.

The Five Commandments of Permission Marketing

Godin outlines a set of five principles that you must follow, as a Permission Marketer, to be effective:

  1. As a Permission Marketer, you are a farmer and constantly need to work at harvesting your crop/customers. An Interruption Marketer is just a hunter and tries to kill something once with a single bullet.
  2. Permission is a process, not a single moment.
  3. Never breach the trust of your customer once they grant you permission to speak with them by selling their data to someone else.
  4. Frequency is always better than reach.
  5. Give a prospect a reason to pay attention –- you have to offer an explicit reward, information, education, entertainment, or even cold hard cash to get the customer to opt-in to the message.

Permission Marketing requires you to understand the buying process of your customers and to adjust your Marketing efforts around that, as opposed to expecting your persona to adjust around you.

The Five Levels of Permission Marketing

With the five commandments in hand, there are five levels of Permission Marketing you can then attempt. Seth Godin ranks them from least to most effective:

1. Situational Permission

This is a scenario where a lead provides their contact information and gives a business permission to assist them further.

Examples include:

  • Getting a quote for a service
  • Registering for a free webinar
  • Subscribing up to a newsletter
  • Signing up to receive a free report

At this point, the person is interested in what you have to offer, but they likely haven't made up their mind about making a purchase from you.

Most businesses that rely on Inbound Marketing for lead generation offer an incentive for leads to opt-in to their mailing list. Once they've joined your mailing list, you have permission to communicate with them further -- and if the incentive you offered was valuable enough, they will be interested in hearing more from you.

2. Brand Trust

Establishing brand trust takes time, but once you've accomplished this your customer gives you permission to regularly contact them and you will be their go-to source for the product or service you offer most of the time.

Marketing to your persona at this level is much easier than only having situational permission because you no longer have to win them over. However, that doesn't mean you can't lose their trust either. You still have to make an effort to keep their trust, but they will be more forgiving of little mistakes at this level.

It's all about keeping your customers happy and being as loyal to them as they are to you.

Keep Going!

In our full synopsis of Permission Marketing, we continue to go through Seth's "five levels" of Permission Marketing and how they can be applied to your Inbound initiatives and also share the 10 questions you should be asking when evaluatining your program. 

To view the full summary, click "continue reading" below. 

The 7 Elements of Inbound Storytelling
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