Who would miss your marketing if you stopped doing it?

Simon looking at their watch thinking "I miss getting those emails"

Would anyone miss your marketing if you stopped doing it? If your answer is no, then it’s time to change things up.

One reason people might not miss your marketing is because you’re relying too much on pressured messaging, or interruption marketing. And yet this is commonly suggested as the best marketing tactic to use. Mainly because the people that recommend it make a lot of money from it.

There is another way to approach marketing; a way that people will miss if you stop doing it.

Permission marketing involves sending anticipated, personal, and relevant messages to people who actually want to receive them. It’s the very opposite of intrusive Ads campaigns and a radical shift from what most people think of as marketing these days. It’s also a lot more engaging, useful and fun. So how does it work?

Don’t take people’s attention for granted

Digital marketing is easy to do and low cost. It also leads to spam-like marketing. It’s common to hear people say, All I see are Ads, or, I get a lot of emails. Some from people I didn’t even give my email to.

Back when marketing meant paying a lot of money for column inches in a newspaper, or paying the postage to send someone a letter or flyer, it was simply too expensive for companies to bombard people indiscriminately with Ads.

These days, the cost of digitally interrupting people is so low that the promise of ‘attention’ seems cheap.

Ads certainly have their place in the marketing and advertising world, and for a lot of businesses they’re a vital part of the sales process. However, interruption marketing is often just one more source of unwanted and unexpected messaging in a world suffering from information overload.

If you’re a business that relies on a meaningful connection or relationship with clients to deliver your product or service, such tactics are often the opposite of effective.

People’s attention is a precious resource and they want it to be respected, not wasted. Social platforms like Instagram and TikTok play on this by relying on short, rapid content that keeps you scrolling – that way you don’t feel like the occasional Ad is wasting your attention so much. It’s a balance they spend billions of dollars on every year.

The challenge of earning attention

Permission marketing is different because it is based around the concept of enrolment of the audience. When people voluntarily opt in to receive messages, they’re giving you their attention and trust in advance.

One way of doing this is to set up an email list. It’s the perfect way to send low-cost, personalised-to-your-audience messages to people who actually want to receive them.

Seth Godin first spoke about permission marketing way back in 1995 – in his book Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, And Friends Into Customers – summarising it as, “delivering messages that are anticipated, personal, and relevant.”

Whether it’s emails, actual mail, a WhatsApp group, a community platform, the principle is the same: the people receiving the message opted in; they raised their hand and said, I want to know more.

With permission marketing, every interaction adds to your relationship with your audience.

A solid foundation for your marketing

Permission marketing is a long-term strategy, contrasting with short-term, spam-like tactics. It’s about building trust and engagement over time.

It works because:

  • Your audience are expecting your messages.
  • Your marketing information is addressed directly to your specific audience.
  • Your audience is interested in what you have to say.

This approach fits like a glove with businesses such as coaching, which need genuine engagement and commitment to the process before the work can begin. Clients need to want to make a change before they will invest time, energy and money in making that change happen.

Permission marketing builds a bridge, a channel through which you can deliver content that serves your audience. By showing up consistently and sharing generously, over time you can help people better grasp what they need to understand, believe or want before they can work with you.

It’s easier than you think to get started. You can start an email list cost effectively with an email marketing tool (there are some I recommend on my Ethical Marketing Tools page). Or you can use a broadcast channel (i.e. one way messaging) on WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal. For more interaction, a community platform can also work well; although that is a lot more involved and is a whole other topic in itself.

But… I don’t want to start a mailing list

I hear this a lot and I find it comes down to one or more of these beliefs:

  • I don’t read email newsletters so why would I send them.
  • I already get too many emails and I don’t want to add to other people’s inboxes.
  • I don’t know how to set up a list.
  • I don’t know what I’d email people about.

I understand all of these. I was very resistant to the idea for years; receiving too many emails and not feeling inspired to send my own. But people started asking if they could join my mailing list and I thought, well, if people are asking to join it then I’d best make one for them to join!

It takes a while and you won’t get hundreds of sign-ups all at once. But it does build over time. I started with four people on my list and now it’s over 100, with an average ‘open rate’ of around 80%. That’s far above anything you can achieve with an Ad or a social post.

Permission = tell me more…

The ultimate aim of permission marketing is to create an audience that would genuinely miss your content and engagement if it stopped. It’s not a difficult process to begin and I have written a guide to help you get started (link to follow).

Common, intrusive marketing practices, like spam emails and irrelevant Ads, misuse social pressure and tension. You can really stand out by offering something different, interesting and useful.

If you want to learn more about to integrate permission marketing into your strategy then do consider my book Reframing Marketing. It’s a 3-step guide to effective and ethical marketing that is all about building relationships and trust with marketing people would miss if you stopped. You can also become a subscriber for some Monday marketing motivation!