Permission Marketing’s Enduring Legacy
The book is considered a classic by anyone in the internet marketing industry. And for good reason. Published over 13 years ago, the book’s ideas are even more true today.
And they form the basic foundation for what people now often call Inbound Marketing.
Godin predicates much of Permission Marketing on what he calls the Catch-22 of Traditional Marketing.
What’s the Catch-22 of Traditional Marketing?
Simply put, marketers used to enjoy wild success with their use of traditional media over the years. You used to be able to generate demand for your products with consistent, repeated marketing on traditional media like TV, Radio, Newspapers or Billboards.
But that’s not so true anymore.
The root causes of this problem and how traditional marketing is reacting to these big changes in marketing is what the Catch-22 is all about.
Cause #1: We’re Out of Time
As technology has transformed our world, our lives are moving faster and faster. We’re busy.
Time has become our most valuable commodity. And unlike other commodities, they’re not making any more of it.
Traditional advertising interrupts our valuable time. We don’t have patience for it anymore.
Cause # 2: 500 Channels and Nothing On
There used to be just three channels on TV and everyone was watching the same shows and the same advertisements. Now there are hundreds of channels with everyone watching different shows. Did you know that the average viewer audience for network news shows has declined more than 55% since 1980?
Did you know there are over 10,000 different magazine titles published in the US every year?
Our limited time has been fragmented into tiny slivers of attention. We’ve become a nation of niches.
Cause # 3: Protecting Ourselves from the Onslought
So how has traditional marketing reacted to this?
More of the same. More advertising. More interruption.
Depending on which study you read, it’s now estimated that the average consumer can receive up to 3,000 marketing messages per day. This is up from “only” 570 marketing messages per day in 1971.
To combat this barrage, we’ve built up walls.
Cause #4: The Internet
The obvious 800-pound gorilla in the room is the Internet. People are simply spending less time in front of the boob tube than they used to.
A 2010 Forrester report indicated that Americans are now spending the same amount of time on the Internet as they do on TV.
Cause # 5: Traditional Marketing is Expensive
Any marketing technique that relies on interrupting people’s valuable attention, must repeat the message multiple times to be effective. Expose people to an ad one time, they remember nothing. Expose people 10 times, they’ll start to remember. Expose them 1,000 times and you’ve got a Coca-Cola or McDonalds.
In other words, frequency works in traditional marketing. But there’s a huge downside – cost. In order to get the message out effectively, marketers have to pound the message home with a costly, high frequency campaign.
All of these factors have contributed to a gradual but relentless reduction in our ability and desire to pay attention to marketing messages.
Call it Consumer ADD.
The Downward Spiral of the Traditional Media Industry In a nutshell, traditional media has got itself caught in a downward spiral of higher costs, smaller, more fragmented audiences and less effective marketing.
The more traditional marketers spend, the less it works and the less it works, the more money they spend.
Inbound Marketing Solves the Catch 22 Problem
Inbound Marketing solves the catch-22 problem of traditional marketing because it takes advantage of the same societal shifts that are causing the decline of traditional marketing in the first place.
Inbound Marketing Doesn’t Interrupt You
When a business creates a good business blog post, it’s created a marketing asset. That assets exists on the internet and is available exactly when you need it. It doesn’t interrupt your day. It’s just there, all the time, findable with a simple Google search.
Inbound Marketing Doesn’t Waste Your Time
Inbound Marketing assumes you’re busy. It doesn’t bother you with irrelevant marketing messages delivered at inconvenient times.
For example, good email nurturing campaigns deliver emails to your inbox that you look forward to. They’re anticipated, relevant and personal. It’s content that adds value to your day. It’s the opposite of spam and it doesn’t waste your time.
Inbound Marketing Requires Your Permission
If you don’t want to receive an email campaign, you unsubscribe. If you don’t want to download an ebook, you don’t fill out the form. Inbound Marketing assumes the consumer is in control. Not interested? No problem. There are plenty of people that are.
Inbound Marketing is Affordable
Godin calls the Internet “the greatest direct marketing medium in the history of the world”.
Where else can you establish a permission-based relationship with people so cheaply? What’s the cost of an informative blog post? What’s the cost of a relevant, highly anticipated email?
The incremental cost of delivery is virtually free to the marketer.
Not so with traditional media. Every marketing message you send out costs big money.
At some point, it doesn’t scale. At some point, it doesn’t work anymore.
I think we’ve reached that point in 2012. I think Mr. Godin was 13 years too early.