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seth godin and jay levinson 

Seth Godin, who has co-authored three books with Jay, authored “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers,” and in doing so, changed Jay's entire outlook about marketing and can dramatically change the beauty of your bottom line.

Seth Godin

Seth, once a student of Jay's, enlightened him to the presence of two kinds of marketing in the world today. The first, most common, most expensive, most ineffective and most old-fashioned, is interruption marketing. That’s when marketing such as a TV commercial, radio spot, magazine or newspaper ad, telemarketing call, or direct mail letter interrupts whatever you’re doing to state its message. Most people pay very little attention to it, now more than ever because there is so much of it and because many minds now unconsciously filter it out.

The opposite of interruption marketing is the newest, least expensive, and most effective kind. It’s called permission marketing -- because prospects give their permission for you to market to them.  

It works like this. You offer your prospects an enticement to volunteer to pay attention to your marketing. The enticement may be a prize for playing a game. It could be information prospects consider to be valuable. It might be a discount coupon. Perhaps it’s membership to a privileged group such as a frequent buyer club, a birthday club. Maybe it’s entry into a sweepstakes. And it might even take the form of an actual free gift. All you ask in return is permission to market to these people. Nothing else.

Alas, you’ll have to use interruption marketing in order to secure that important consent. And you’ll have to track your costs like crazy, figuring how much it costs you to gain each permission -- easily figured by analyzing your media costs divided by number of permissions granted.

Once you’ve embarked upon a consent marketing campaign, you can spend less time marketing to strangers and more time marketing to friends. You can move your marketing from beyond mere reach and frequency and into the realm of trust.

Once you’ve obtained consent from your prospects, your marketing will take on three exciting characteristics.   It will be anticipated, meaning people will actually look forward to hearing from you.   It will be personal, meaning the messages are directly related to the prospect. And it will be relevant, meaning you know for sure that the marketing is about something in which the prospect is interested.

Consent marketing is not about share of market, not even about share of mind. Instead, it’s about share of wallet. You find as many new actual customers as you can, then extract the maximum value from each customer. You convert the largest number of prospects into customers, using your invaluable consent to accomplish this. You focus your marketing only on prospects and not on the world at large.

Let’s use an coed summer camp as an example of permission marketing in action. The camp uses interruption marketing to run ads at camp fairs and in magazines that feature other ads from summer camps. But the ads do not attempt to sell the summer camp. Instead, they focuses solely upon motivating prospects to send for a video and a brochure, upon securing their consent to accept your marketing with an open mind.

Once the prospects receive the video, they soon see that it, too, does not try to sell the camp. It is geared only to get consent to set up a meeting.   But having seen a video of the camp facilities, activities, happy campers and attentive staff, the prospect is all set to say yes to a personal meeting.

At the in-person meeting, the sale is closed. And once a camper attends the camp for one summer, chances are pretty darned good he or she will not only stay for several more summers, but also will bring along a brother, a sister, a cousin, a schoolmate or a friend --- or all of these.

Notice that the only goal of each step is to expand permission for you to take another step rather than making the ultimate sale. Who uses consent marketing these days? Record clubs. Book clubs. Marketers who offer a free brochure. 

The biggest boon to consent marketing is the internet -- but only by those who treat it as an interactive medium and not like TV. As clutter becomes worse, consent becomes more valuable. The moral: since only a limited number of companies within a market niche can secure consent, get moving on your own consent marketing program pronto.

In addition to your consent marketing program, you've also got to realize that all customers are not created equal. Your "A" list customers spend more, buy more frequently, refer your business to others, happily complete customer questionnaires, give you names for your referral list, and are pleasant people overall.

Your "B" list customers buy from you, but aren't necessarily bright spots on your customer list. Your job as a guerrilla is to treat both of these groups of customers very well. You must treat those "B" list customers like royalty -- because that's what they expect and that's what they deserve.

You should treat your "A" list customers like family -- because they are more profitable to your company and they help you maintain your sanity. Jay tells the story, my wife and I ate at a restaurant we've frequently visited. When presented with our check, we were given a ten percent discount along with a VIP card that would give us ten percent off on all future meals. The waitress said, "You're very valued customers to us and this card is to show our appreciation."

Have we eaten there many times since? Have we recommended the restaurant to our friends? You know that the answers are a resounding "yes," and you can just imagine how we feel about that restaurant. But it doesn't take a discount to show your gratitude to your best customers. Just treating them extra-special and acknowledging that you appreciate their business is usually enough. Still, they do deserve special treatment.

During tough times, it doesn't cost you one extra cent to render extra superlative service, but you can be sure that your customers notice it. Your "A" list customers should receive advance notices of sales, of new products or services that you offer, of information that can help them succeed at their own goals.

Just think of the attention and kindness that you give to your friends. They appreciate you for it and happily return your friendship. Then think of the extra attention you probably lavish upon members of your own family. It's usually more than you give to your friends -- not a whole lot more, but enough so that they feel like family. So it should be with your "A" list and "B" list customers.

Life is not always simple black and white. There are also many grey areas. If you're not certain whether a customer should be on your "A" list or "B" list, it's best to err on the side of caution and treat those in the grey area as though they are members of your family.

Action Steps:

  1. Go over your customer list and try to identify your "A" list and "B" list customers. This will take a bit of your time, but it will be worth that time investment.
  2. Consider actually "firing" some of your customers -- those who take up the most time, have the most problems, and do not prove their loyalty to you. Firing a customer is never fun, but it is worth your time -- especially during a down economy. 
  3. Put into writing a list of the things you do to treat your "B" list customers like royalty.
  4. Put into writing a list of the things you do to treat your "A" list customers like family.
  5. Formalize a program where your "A" list customers realize that you actually do give them special treatment.

If you'd like to speak to Bruce Doyle 'Global Guerrilla Marketing Master Trainer' and the Team about 'Your' Marketing Apply for a Complimentary Strategy Call where we'll conduct a Marketing Audit for You.

About the Author

Bruce Doyle

Pioneered the Business Coaching Industry in the late 90's, Guerrilla Marketing Master Trainer (personally mentor by Jay Conrad Levinson)

Global Business Coach of the Year Hawaii 2003, Author of 4 Business Books, Entrepreneur and Founder of UnlimitedBusiness.com

Bruce has worked with 1000's of Business Owners over the past 20 years plus he's owned and operated over 30 Businesses across a range of industries. His focus is teaching business owners how to dramatically GROW PROFITS and GET MORE FREEDOM IN THEIR LIVES. 

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