How do you make the the first connection with a customer?
Seth Godin introduced the idea of Permission Marketing. Earn an audience’s trust through consistent, anticipated messages. This happens when you subscribe to a podcast or blog. It happens when your garage send a card in the post reminding you that your MOT is due.
Permission marketing is the act of offering something valuable in exchange for your attention and time, nothing else. In time you earn trust. With trust, you can approach the customer with more value, still without asking for any money in return. Repeat until you’ve delivered enough value to provide yet more value, but this time in exchange for money.
The P&Gs, Budweisers and Marlboros of this world are where they are today because of advertising done in the 50s through to the 90s. This is Mad Men style interruption marketing. They bombard you with messages through TV, radio and print that break into your conscious and subconscious thinking. It still works, but not as well as it use to. It’s expensive and unless you have a large budget, you can’t use this type of marketing as the foundation to build your business.
Permission requires interruption
Permission marketing works for small businesses, but to earn the initial permission, you may need to create a moment of interruption. Before someone decides to subscribe to a blog, they need to find your blog. Unless you’re exclusively reliant on referral and word of mouth, you need to interrupt them to make that introduction.
If what you create is valuable to one person, chances are that one person will know another person with similar interests and share. But, you first need to get your blog in front of the early adopter.
How do you interrupt without irritating?
Interruption should follow theme of generosity in permission marketing. How can you give something valuable to the person you’re looking to enrol? Something that will encourage them to seek you out and sign up.
You treat the moment of interruption just as you would the permission asset itself. You create something that will delight or enlighten the person you seek to enrol. That could be in the form of a guest article on the blog they read or a podcast interview. It could be in the form of a display ad that tells a joke they find funny, or leads to a ‘free’ asset that is clearly relevant to them. This isn’t exclusive to online interruption. You could send something physical in the post.
The key is that what ever you send needs to be clearly focused on that person and what they care about. Your permission asset is created for the smallest viable audience. Your interruption asset needs to, without any shadow of doubt, scream that you’ve created something just for that audience. When you experience the interruption, it’s worth a moment of your time to check it out because it’s clearly all about you and what you’re interested in.
Interruption is a part of marketing. You don’t need to focus all your attention on it and you shouldn’t. But, whilst word of mouth is powerful, few people or businesses are in a position to sit back and wait for it to happen. Treat your interruption the same way you treat permission: as an asset.