Why Permission Marketing is Key to Building Your Brand


The social media revolution has dramatically changed the way business is conducted throughout the United States and the rest of the world. In fact, many experts believe that social marketing is the biggest advancement made in the new millennium. Social media platforms have had a bigger impact on consumer behaviors than online shopping, digital downloads, and even eReaders. Because social media is such an ever-present part of the average consumer’s life, companies are going to be re

New Marketing Strategy

New Marketing Strategy (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

quired to change their strategy when targeting potential customers.

The bare bones truth is this: traditional advertising methods simply are not going to work for the modern consumer any longer. Traditionally, advertising and marketing resembled a spray bottle with a wide coverage nozzle. The goal of an ad or a marketing promotion was simply to blast the entire population and hope that an interested party took notice. However, consumers soon became adept at tuning out these mass-market advertisements. Even the parties who could potentially benefit from a promotion or sale were closing their eyes to the advertisements.

How, then, could a business create a more personalized and individualized approach to marketing? The answer was simple: use social media. However, this created legal problems for businesses and companies. Social media platforms are filled with personal information that cannot be shared or even accessed without permission. Many companies were stymied. According to their thought processes, if a company asks for permission, the consumer will be extremely hesitant to provide businesses with access to their information. Who wants to give out personal content in exchange for constant bombardment by advertisements?

Seth Godin actually came up with the solution years before social media was even a thought in young Mark Zuckerberg’s brain. Mr. Godin coined the term “permission marketing” to address a suggested change in approach to marketing in the digital age. Instead of treating consumers like numbers on a page, permission marketing encourages businesses to treat consumers like friends. By making “friendships” with potential customers, businesses can form symbiotic relationships and increase sales. Information on Mark Godin’s book about Permission Marketing can be found here.

What is Permission Marketing?

So, what is permission marketing and how is it used? Essentially, permission marketing involves a business offering unique solutions to a consumer in exchange for access to that consumer’s personal information. The exchange, however, must be symbiotic. If a consumer feels that they will receive nothing from providing personal data, they won’t give a business permission to access social media accounts.

Hands Off My Data!

We live in a time where identity theft is quite common and the protection of personal info is a very real concern. However, this concern seems to break down a bit where social media is concerned. Consumers would never write down their addresses and phone numbers, birthdates, friends’ names and contact information, and other sensitive data and simply leave them in a public location. These same consumers, though, are quite willing to post personal data on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Why the difference? Public information on social media platforms, for some reason, seems to  be treated like fair game for consumers. Social network users want to be known by their friends, family members, and colleagues. They want to create personalized profile pages that are filled with information about their likes and dislikes. They want to provide details. A business could benefit substantially from accessing this information.

A business cannot just snatch personal information off the Internet. Businesses must use permission marketing to trade personal data for equal value. For example, a popular online news site, Huffington Post, asks consumers for access to their Facebook or Twitter accounts. When you register with Huffington Post, you do not create an original username and password. You provide the online news site with access to your personal data. In exchange, Huffington Post guarantees that you will receive alerts regarding breaking news that interests you. How does Huffington Post determine which news stories you will find interesting? The answer is simple: it uses your data.

How Do Customers Benefit?

Customers benefit from permission marketing because they receive access to a more personal form of web browsing. When they use their social media networks to connect to businesses and companies, they can see what they’re friends are looking at. They can also share content from other websites easily via their social media networks. The customer feels that he or she is receiving value in the form of easy, personalized web browsing. In exchange, he or she is willing to provide access to personal data.

How Do Businesses Benefit?

The business also benefits from employing permission marketing. Businesses can establish a solid reputation with customers by being straight-forward about the ways in which they will use data. Customers don’t like to be duped. They don’t like to feel that their information is being shared or used without their knowledge. Businesses that use permission marketing techniques, however, are being upfront and honest about data usage. This improves a business’s reputation and solidifies its brand image.

Businesses can also use permission marketing to zero in on an optimum niche. Instead of sending mass-market advertisements out into the stratosphere and hoping that someone clicks your ad, you can use permission marketing to evaluate the likes and dislikes of your social media “friends.” When you find users whose interests match the products and services you provide, you can connect with those users on a very personal and individualized level.

Personal connection is the advertisement method of the future. Consumers like to feel that large companies take notice of them as individuals and not as percentages, figures, or parts of a whole. A customer wants to be recognized as a person, not a number. With permission marketing, businesses can create a brand image of personal interactions, willingness to communicate directly with customers, and commitment to providing customers with deals, promotions, and information that they are specifically interested in. The Internet has been criticized for making the world an impersonal place, but new marketing techniques are actually making social media more personal than ever.