Permission Marketing: Politeness or Smartness?

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Have you not noticed the bookstore assistant, who quietly sneaks up to you and asks ‘May I help you?’ He is asking for your permission to help you search for the specific book you are looking for.

Have you not filled up checkboxes at some websites, selecting the newsletters you want to subscribe to? Have you not noticed that when you are closing the browser window; many sites open up a chat window to ask you whether you would like to ask the online agent on the other side about any specific query? You can obviously refuse to chat and close the window.

All these are examples of what is known as ‘Permission Marketing’, an approach wherein you request permission from the prospect to proceed with your sales process, which is usually to provide relevant information. 

The reason is that people are busy and would not like to be disturbed with an unwanted or an untimely sales pitch. If a couple walks into your shoe store, the gentleman may get irritated by the store assistant trying to sell him shoes because he is only accompanying his wife, who wants to buy slippers for her. 

Consider another instance. You are in need of a credit card, but if you get a telemarketer calling you in the middle of an important meeting, you will get irritated. Since the prospect’s time and attention have become scarce, Permission Marketing has become indispensable, not just a way of being polite.

Generally, we know two types of Permission Marketing – explicit and implicit. 

When you select those checkboxes, you explicitly ‘opt-in’ or give permission to the company to send you those newsletters with accompanying promotional offers from time to time. On the other hand, when you call up the ‘JustDial’ services, you have implicitly given permission for an eye clinic to call you by showing an interest in their services.

Permission Marketing has become a cornerstone of the Attraction Marketing techniques used for generating leads. 

It is quite effective where the personal touch is required, like in email marketing, rather than marketing to specific target segments through the usual mass advertising mediums like TV and radio. After all, your sanitary napkin advertisement is going to be wasted on 50% of the viewers (men) all the time! Permission Marketing ensures that advertisements are sent only to those who are interested. Eventually, there might be a sale after several impressions.

You would notice that Permission Marketing always carries an ‘unsubscribe’ option with it, just like a spy would always carry a poison pill with him, in case he is caught. 

The customer is free at any time, to withdraw the permission he has granted and unsubscribe to the newsletters and promotional offers. Most companies respect this decision and stop their promotional activities for this customer. If the company does not do this, it risks being blacklisted by the customer as sending spam and then the company will not be able to run any other promotional offers. Hence, it can be rightly said that the customer has become the king once again with Permission Marketing.

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