“We have all had the Scrooge-like luxury of peeking into a permissionless future and nobody liked what they saw,” says Michael Mayor, president and COO of NetCreations. Mayor, a pioneer of double opt-in e-mail list building, says, “Spam is the best argument for permission because [spam] is anti-marketing. It’s also anti-relevance, anti-targeting and anti-respect. Consumers remember the brands that treated them with respect, and they definitely remember the ones that didn’t.”
So how can you get consumers to raise their hands and begin a dialogue with you? Here are six ways you can begin to build permission into your marketing program.
1. Develop a communications framework.
Permission-based marketing requires marketers to establish a thoughtful communications strategy. According to Don Neal, chief marketing officer at Marsh Consumer, a risk and insurance services firm, this involves the careful planning of a series of communications that educate and/or entertain consumers, and builds trust. “Before you invite consumers to begin a conversation, you better had planned what you are going to say. It’s a back and forth, give and take dialogue,” Neal says.
2. Extend an invitation.
To build relationships with consumers, you must first get them to begin a dialogue with you. While at Internet-based marketing company Yoyodyne, Godin made games and sweepstakes a popular method of gaining consumer attention. Placing banner ads on specific Web sites is one example. Yoyodyne clients persuaded consumers to give their permission to communicate with them by e-mail for a chance to win a prize.
While Godin proposes marketers use mass marketing and word-of-mouth advertising to gain attention, other marketers prefer a more pragmatic approach. “Reach out to customers, preferably by mail, and explain that you’d like to stay in touch with them,” suggests Len Ellis, executive vice president of enterprise marketing with Wunderman New York, a marketing communications agency. “Ask them how they would like to be contacted, what they would like to be contacted about, and when they’d like to be contacted.”