Applying the Old Marketing Rules to the Cyber World
Excerpts from Permission Marketing
If you're like most Americans, you have every single one of these products
in your house: Crisco, Tabasco, Campbell's, Vaseline, and Arm & Hammer.
And every one of them was launched more than fifty years ago. Fifty years!
This isn't the newest or the coolest or the hippest or the cheapest. These
are products you chose because you trust them.
Why do you trust them? Because of frequency. Over the years, you've
been inundated with messages about their quality and reliability. All of
these brands are now coasting. They do relatively little advertising, and
the advertising they do isn't very innovative or aggressive. But because
they've used fifty-plus years of frequency in a focused, consistent way,
they've made a huge impact on you and virtually every other consumer in
Because they're trusted, they're profitable. In fact, in virtually every
industry, the most trusted brand is also the most profitable. Frequency
led to awareness, awareness to familiarity, and familiarity to trust. And
trust, almost without exception, leads to profit. But what if you're not
Vaseline? What if your product isn't a piece of our culture, and you need
to build that trust?
Advertisers don't have the power to interrupt enough consumers to get
their attention and make it pay the way it used to. In a world of mass
customization, of high-speed products and higher-speed messaging, consumers
don't want a batch approach. Just as consumers are now demanding more personalization
(from one hundred coffee drinks at Starbucks to thousands of different
models from Nike), they are most likely to respond to advertising that
is frequent, focused, and personal. It's a new game now. Creating value
through interaction is far more important than solving a consumer's problem
in thirty seconds. So if you can get the right to communicate with permission,
you've just obtained the right to use frequency. And that, as we've seen,
is the holy grail of marketing.
Many marketers are uncomfortable with this change. But others are embracing
it and finding vast profits as a result. Every direct marketer and catalog
marketer has an A-list. This is the list of people who buy proportionally
more products than the rest of the population. When the J. Peterman or
the Lands' End catalog arrives on the A-list customer's doorstep, attention
is paid. Orders are given. The prospect trusts the merchant. The prospect
buys from the merchant. Without realizing it, these direct marketers have
built a permission-based relationship with these customers. Is it any surprise
they buy more?
Is the permission overt? Did the consumer say, "Please, go ahead and
send catalogs?" Well, not quite. But by buying from these catalogs, by
rewarding the frequent interruptions with business again and again, these
consumers now anticipate the catalog. They've decided that the catalog
is relevant to them, and they hold off on purchases until the next catalog
comes. Imagine how much better the A-list would be if there were explicit
rewards for the prospect for responding and overt permission to the merchant
to market more instead of the more subtle relationship that exists today.
The Internet is the greatest direct-marketing medium of all time. E-mail
is the main reason people use the Internet. And E-mail delivers frequency
for free. Permission Marketing will allow you to harvest that frequency.
Consumers have very strong feelings about many of the brands and services
in their lives, and generally, trust is the critical prerequisite. Where
does trust come from? Trust comes from frequency. But before frequency
turns into sales, it turns into permission. Permission to communicate,
permission to customize, permission to teach. And permission is just a
step away from trust.
Seth Godin is vice-president for permission marketing at Yahoo! He founded Yoyodyne, an online promotion and direct-marketing company, and helped build it into a Permission Marketing pioneer before selling it to Yahoo! in 1998. Godin is a recipient of the 1998 Momentum Award honoring outstanding Internet industry accomplishments. He can be reached at Seth@permission.com.
Reprinted and excerpted with permission from
By Seth Godin,
Copyright 1999, Seth Godin
Reprinted with permission of Simon & Schuster
All rights reserved.
Available at the McGraw-Hill Bookstore and online bookstores