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Stop Interrupting Me While I Am Interrupting You – The Rise of Permission Marketing

March 27, 2018

Old marketing channels are dying.


For most of us in most industries, mass advertising is already dead. Sure, there are a few straggling pizza parlors that can see a big revenue bump from mailers, but a lot of us are finding it harder and harder to cut through the noise. Older consumers DVR their favorite shows and fast-forward through the commercials, and millennials have cut the cable altogether. So TV is dead. Radio is just behind it. Mailers go right in the trash.


These things have their digital equivelents, of course. Radio commercials can be geotargeted and run on Pandora or Spotify. Some have suggested that Snapchat is the millennial equivalent of TV. Instagram can be used a lot like magazine ads. But even some digital strategies are suffering. According to The Atlantic, “you are 31.25 times more likely to win a prize in the Mega Millions than you are to click on a banner ad…you are 87.8 times more likely to apply to Harvard and get in…112.50 times more likely to sign up for and complete NAVY SEAL training…279.64 times more likely to climb Mount Everest…and 475.28 times more likely to survive a plane crash than you are to click on a banner ad.”


Consistently the highest ROI marketing channels for most industries in the digital age are SEO, email marketing, social advertising, PPC, and content marketing – including both blogging and video. But as you’ve probably noticed, there’s a huge distribution of successful strategies even within these channels. There’s a very important lesson in why these channels are succeeding, and it will teach us what makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful marketing strategy. It’s not enough to go where our audience can be found (although that’s a great place to start). We need to understand that the new media is changing the way consumers expect to be interacted with.


Stop Interrupting Me

Why are the new media succeeding and the old failing? It’s not just because we’re consuming more digital content than we used to – although we are. But successful brands have discovered that the way to succeed in the digital age requires a paradigm shift. Old marketing required getting in someone’s way and thrusting your message upon them. The salesman knocks on your door and takes you away from making lunch. The YouTube ad plays (now twice) before you can to the video you wanted. The last three or four years has even seen the return of – gag – the popup ad.


Have you ever erupted into a blue streak tantrum when trying to access a news article? I have.


And you’re not alone. Consumer resentment is building against this interruption marketing strategy. Gone are the days when it was part and parcel of consuming media. It’s not the price you have to pay to get your content anymore – there are ad-free or ad-minimum alternatives. If you’re Entrepreneur and you think you can get away with autoplay video ads, or you’re Facebook and you think you can thrust your ads into the middle of my cat videos just because of your unusually strong branding power, you’ve got another thing coming. Yes, Forbes, I would like to continue to my article; that’s why I clicked on it. Consider Gary Vaynerchuck’s NSFW analysis of ESPN’s ad problem.



What’s the Alternative

The market is not fully punishing brands who insist on interruption marketing, but it’s coming. Smart brands understand that the future of branded messaging is permission marketing. Seth Godin defines permission marketing as “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”


Novel idea, isn’t it? Godin continues: “Permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there’s no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted…Real permission works like this: if you stop showing up, people complain, they ask where you went.”


If your marketing messages are enjoying high exposure and strong insights but very low engagement or a lethargic conversion rate, is it possible that you have not yet built this kind of relationship with your audience? Are you rudely interrupting their user experience instead of earning their attention? See, if we’re doing it right, content marketing, permission marketing, and relationship marketing are synonymous. If we’re doing it right. Relationships are give-and-take. If you expect to maintain a lucrative relationship with your customers, you have to give before you can take. A relationship is like a garden – you have to nurture the connections by providing for their needs before you can reap the harvest.

Give Away Your Expertise

The good news is that you are the expert in something. You have specialized knowledge about something the market cares about. That’s why you’re still in business. Things that are common sense to you might be earth-shattering to others. If you want to earn your audience’s attention, you need to provide quality content that will solve their problems. Identify their needs and then fill those needs. If you can do that effectively, not only will you see a wild increase in traffic, but you will have earned the right to ask for their business. That’s an increasingly scarce currency in our increasingly noisy media environment.


Paid Products Are an Extension of Your Giving

And don’t think of your advertising as distinct from your content marketing. Your blog content could be the highest-converting CTA you have! The user experience should go something like this. “Man, I hate that I have this problem. There’s gotta be a way to solve this problem. Let’s Google it. Eureka! This is exactly what I’m looking for. This brand is my friend now. Hey, check this out, their services could help me solve this and other related problems. And I know they’re legit because they’ve already helped me. Yes, I think I will inquire about pricing.”


Pad the Content Calendar

What makes content marketing hard, however, is you have to put out a lot of content in order to solve a lot of problems. You need your blog to stay fresh in order for it to perform well in searches. Your headlines need to be optimized for native-language search. And, again, you have to keep the content churning. This is a huge challenge for small businesses whose marketing teams are already wearing more hats than a Maison Michel Charles catalog. This is where Build My Content can help. We contract with dozens of writers and have several top editors on staff who can help you to keep a steady flow of fresh content coming to your blog. Our free trial writing service has helped hundreds of sites meet their content marketing needs. We want to be part of your content marketing solution to help you build a relationship with your audience and earn the right to market to them.


Whatever industry you’re in, whatever channels have worked for you in the past, you need to understand that the only way to remain competitive in the coming decade will be to command your audience’s attention, because you can’t demand it anymore.


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