Permission Marketing Chapter 6 – Permission five ways
By Optism Team, Aug 26, 2011
Optism provides permission-based, mobile marketing services. Providing the opportunity for mobile subscribers to opt-in to advertising messages based on their preferences is the core tenant of our service. Our blog series Permission Marketing in the News has been highlighting mobile and other permission marketing news for the past year. The leading proponent of permission marketing is Seth Godin who coined the term in his book Permission Marketing in 1999. To celebrate our one year anniversary, we are running a series of blog posts summarizing his book chapter by chapter and analyzing how changes in the mobile and advertising marketplace have impacted the recommendations in his book.
In Chapter Six, Seth introduces the five levels of permission, warning that “all permission is not created equal.” He covers a lot of ground in this chapter, so we encourage you to go directly to the source. The following paragraphs are only highlights from the book.
The five permission levels are:
- Intravenous (and “purchase on approval” model)
- Points (liability model and chance model)
- Personal relationships
- Brand trust
As you can imagine, “intravenous” permission is very high — it gets its name from the kind of permission we provide to medical staff when we’re on intravenous. We grant them permission to use whatever medications they think are appropriate, without necessarily consulting us, and certainly without doing any “comparison shopping.” We trust them to know what’s best for us and we commit to pay for whatever services and drugs they deem appropriate.
Sounds drastic, doesn’t it? We authorize the service provider or marketer to select, administer and charge us for a product or service without checking with us first. In reality, it’s not uncommon. Many of us have that kind of agreement with a home heating oil company.
Another form of intravenous permission, not quite as drastic as full intravenous, is “purchase on approval.” In this case, we are notified of the product or service the marketer selects for us and reserve the right to say no. An example of this kind of permission is the agreement you sign to join a record club.
Seth believes we are willing to provide intravenous permission when we want to:
- Save time
- Save money
- Don’t want to make a choice, and/or
- Want to avoid running out of something
Intravenous permission is a great privilege but it comes with a high risk. If the marketer guesses wrong and sends something we don’t want, or the oil company guesses wrong and we run out, we may quickly withdraw all permission. Today, you could use mobile marketing to help you maintain your valued position, by helping you stay close to the customer. For example, you could use a quick dialogue exchange to fine-tune your automated service and identify any recent blips in the normal situation. You could also use mobile marketing to enhance your understanding of customers’ preferences, so you can tailor product offerings more precisely.
Marketers must be very careful that they don’t abuse this high level of privilege. Beyond the obvious – not making unsuitable or unnecessary purchases on the customer’s behalf – the marketer must continue to offer superior service and pricing. In return for granting intravenous permission, we expect to be treated as a most highly valued customer.
Points or loyalty credits are a “formalized, scalable approach to attracting and keeping the prospect’s attention.” Unlike traditional marketing techniques, points systems can be tightly monitored and costed. Points are used to reward us for the frequency and value of our purchases or for paying attention. In 1999, when Seth was writing Permission Marketing, he noted that it was much easier to focus on rewarding buying behaviour. “Proving that an individual paid attention is difficult, especially if there’s a large audience.” Today, mobile marketing helps to address this challenge. Research has shown that “97% of mobile subscribers will read a text message within four minutes of receipt.” That’s a whole lot of attention that wasn’t readily available and trackable in 1999!
Seth believes, “the best marketing programs get better over time” and points programs can be “a remarkably inexpensive way to attract and keep exactly the right people.” Consumers are willing to pay attention to these programs because they “have a good time. They feel smart. They feel in control. They feel safe. They like getting me-mail, not e-mail (every interaction is anticipated, personal, and relevant, not to mention unique, to them).”
Seth goes on to describe two types of points programs, liability and chance, and closes with some advice on how to build the most effective points programs. A key piece of advice? “The program must be built with permission overtly included. Consumers must understand from the first day that the marketer will be watching their actions and will be using the data to send focused, relevant, personal messages to them.” That sounds familiar doesn’t it? Permission mobile marketing is 100% aligned with this advice.
Personal relationship permission
Personal relationships are an extremely valuable form of permission, but Seth ranks this permission third because it isn’t scalable. (Remember, Permission Marketing was written in the pre-social media era, before we all had thousands of “friends”!) Personal relationships are also “slow and difficult to make deeper.” That said, Seth believes, “By identifying the right individuals and working to earn their trust and permission, retail and business-to-business marketers can make a huge impact on their bottom line.”
He notes, that “personal permission is the most powerful form of permission for making major shifts in a consumer’s behaviour.” You can leverage that personal relationship to move someone to a higher level of permission, or to sell them custom products, very expensive products or complex products that require people to commit significant energy into understanding them.
Permission mobile marketing is an excellent way to maintain and strengthen personal relationships. You connect with people on their personal mobile, so you’re effectively getting together with them in their personal space. The calls to action supported, which include click to call or click through to a web page, allow you to encourage people to delve deeper, but you let them control the experience. You’re demonstrating your respect for them but also making yourself accessible. With mobile marketing, you can tailor offerings to the person, so the content is more relevant and has value. When you combine mobile marketing with social media, the effect can be very powerful in creating personal permission.
Seth recommends, “If you’re a professional with deep permission from qualified prospects, the single best way to improve your business is not by finding more clients, but by selling more stuff to the people who have given you permission already.”
Brand trust permission
Brand trust is the traditional home of interruption marketing. Seth believes “brand trust is dramatically overrated. It’s extraordinarily expensive to create, takes a long time to develop, is hard to measure, and is harder still to manipulate.” He admits it is also “the most common way marketers practice their craft.”
Marketers use our trust in a particular brand to sell us additional products under the same brand. If we like the new product, the status granted both products is enhanced. Of course the reverse is also true: if the new product fails to deliver on the brand promise, both products suffer.
Seth notes, “The power of brand trust can be truly significant.” It can be very difficult for a new product to wedge its way into the market if the space is already occupied by a strong brand. And it will take a lot of time and money to get the new product’s message heard.
In the end, Seth acknowledges that brand permission is a worthwhile level of permission, “but it must be guarded, and tended to, and invested in.”
Mobile marketing campaigns can be used very effectively to maintain a brand’s image and create awareness. Of course it is essential that the brand avoid any spam-like programs which could seriously damage a brand’s image. In Ghana, Volkswagen chose a mobile marketing campaign to quickly alert car shoppers to the availability of a new shipment of vehicles. Mobile marketing is also excellent at reinforcing brand campaigns in concert with traditional media.
Situational permission is very useful, time sensitive, and usually preceded by “May I help you?” It’s the permission we grant when we’re in a store or on the phone and we agree to listen to someone tell us about a product or service. The consumer initiates the process, so permission is clear and input from the marketer is welcome. The “will to buy” is present and very real, so it’s a golden opportunity for the marketer.
Usually, the marketers with situational permission are the sales people on the floor. Training and presentation are key factors for success here. A situational permission can evaporate in an instant if the front line people fail to meet the consumer’s expectations. If a lineup is too long, the sales clerk doesn’t know the product well, the waiter looks sloppy or the phone caller sits on hold too long, the marketing opportunity is lost.
Mobile marketing campaigns can be used to drive customers into a store, to create the situational permission. This was the case with an adidas Originals campaign in Cairo. The sports retailer used mobile marketing to reach out to people with an interest in fashion and sports and encourage them to visit a new store. Mobile marketing is also a means of delivering mobile coupons. Once the coupon pushes people across the threshold, in-store marketers have an excellent opportunity to sell additional items. Seth cites those famous words, “Do you want fries with that?” as an example of how a well-trained staff can leverage situational permission to significantly impact a company’s bottom line.
The last “permission” category Seth covers in Chapter Six is that non-permission category, spam. Some marketers believe if “an advertisement is relevant, it’s not spam.” Seth doesn’t agree. “The most important part of the permission troika — anticipated, personal, and relevant — is anticipated. And spam is not just unanticipated, it’s dreaded.”
In some markets, spam is a very real threat to the success of mobile marketing. (See our recent blog on the situation in India.) Responsible service providers, industry experts and ecosystem organizations like the Mobile Marketing Association are all vocal in their opposition to mobile marketing spam. At Optism, we rely on 100% opted in audiences that are fully expecting brand communications. We encourage everyone to do the same.
In Chapter Seven, Seth provides some ground rules for safeguarding your valuable permissions.