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Today's marketing, which some have dubbed Permission Marketing, is built around trust and relationships. Permission marketing is the act of marketing to people who want to be marketed to. It works like this: customers who find value in your content will opt-in to hearing more from you. For example, they might subscribe to your blog or join your facebook group. This relationship lasts as long as the customer finds value in your marketing.
In contrast (and without going into a great amount of detail), permission marketing is much different than the 'intentional interruption' approach that comes from the mass marketing mindset. Think how commercials interrupt a television program. Annoying, right? And what if the commercial is not something you are interested in? A total waste to time... People are tired of being interrupted, so they find ways to circumvent the noise. Tivo, which allows you to skips commercials, is a classic example.
How to get involved
With permission marketing, your messages should be personal and relevant, and offer value to the customer. And they need to appear at the right time and place in order to be effective. To really take advantage of permission marketing, you need to clearly identify your target customer, find where they spend their time online, and become a part of their community. Building trust and relationships are core features of online social networks, so they are a good place to start. In many cases social networks allow you to leverage demographic information (age, gender, location, etc.) so you can drill down from the masses and reach your target customer.
Having a blog and maintaining an email list are also good ways to participate in permission marketing. With blogs, folks can subscribe to your blog's feed, and unsubscribe at will. They do not need to give any personal information, like an email address, making the subscriber totally anonymous. Email lists operate differently, in that the subscriber must give you their email address. People are reluctant to give out their email these days due to the fear of receiving more spam. Once they have given their information, there is no way they can get it back.
Obey the law
If you are maintaing an email list for sending out newsletters or company updates, you are required to comply with laws governing commercial email. The extent of the laws are too much to go into detail, however here are a couple to give you an idea:
- Never send unsolicited email
- Provide an opt-out method (a way to unsubscribe)
- No misleading subject lines or sender information
The FTC has created a summary of the CAN-SPAM Act for more information.
Since email can easily be abused, it requires more effort on your part to comply with the laws. This may be well worth it because email newsletters can be very effective for small businesses. Email lists also require more trust on the subscriber's end, so don't be shy in reassuring them that you take their interest in your company seriously and promise to never abuse your email privileges.