Marketing is like a revolution – it goes in circles. Like fashion; colours, styles, detailing all come round in a cycle and if you want to create something new, original and at the crest of the wave, you need to think about breaking the cycle. Seth Godin, a leading marking guru said:
“We are entering an era,” Godin declares, “that’s going to change the way almost everything is marketed to almost everybody.”
Why? Simply put, marketing just isn’t working as well as it used to – any Calgary marketing company will readily tell you that. The jury is out as to really why people value marketing less, but it looks like there is just so much of it people are getting immune to the messages and partly because online marketing has become so successful marketers have pushed the boundaries and taken it all ways at once.
Mass marketing is one reason that Godin feels that we need to rethink the way we reach out to our markets as its success is based on interruption. When you think about it – he’s right. Adverts interrupt our favourite TV program, so we tend to take notice, telemarketing calls interrupt our daily activity even a print ad interrupts what we are reading.
“The interruption model is extremely effective when there’s not an overflow of interruptions,” Godin says. “But there’s too much going on in our lives for us to enjoy being interrupted anymore.”
This scenario and sentiment strikes a chord with all of us as we have been on both sides of the coin, but we seem to have some kind of disconnect between the annoyance of interruption marketing and who creates it. We hate being interrupted by the marketing, but we still seem to be basing campaigns around inflicting these annoyances on our target audience. Choosing pain as a marketing vehicle may not be a way forward.
Godin’s new era of marketing focuses on gaining permission to market to a person:
“Permission marketing is 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.
Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers,” he says. “It’s not just about entertainment – it’s about education.”
Canada is already one step ahead, which made every Calgary marketing company running to keep their campaigns legal, with a law that translates into marketing companies now needing permission to send out marketing emails. Spam is a huge concern for everybody, not just the government, and another indication that interruptive marketing is no longer working. Permission marketing is now a necessity this side of the border.
The average person will see roughly 1,000,000 marketing messages a year – that’s 3,000 a day. Everything has become more cluttered. TV channels are very busy but they also prize interruption very highly, breaking programs into smaller sections to create more ‘prime time’ slots that would generate more money. Does it work? Is it worth the interruption? Even if you think hard, can you remember any of the TV commercials you saw last night?
If we look at America where there is more information readily available, there are over 250 million people, and most watch TV. There are 10 channels that are really popular. That makes 25 million people per channel, but how much do they watch per day? Enough to make interruption marketing worth the cost?
The web is a similar story. There are 45 million people with Web access and 1.5 million commercial sites that are vying for their attention. That’s only 30 people per site. Again, the economics really don’t seem to back up the cost.
Magazines seem to have more full page adverts than readable material, making internet magazines, or eZines as they have come to be known, very popular. They have a larger number of adverts but they are organized in such a way we can filter them out and rejoice in the fact we don’t have to pay for them. Maybe Seth Godin is right, permission marketing is the way forward and those that take it on board will be ready before it becomes the only way forward.
Permission marketing is about getting companies to reach out to customers and encouraging them to volunteer information. The premise is that each side give a little more at each touch point, encouraging to other to want to be involved, without the Calgary marketing company forcing the information on to them. Sounds easy? Yes and no.
“You still have to get people’s attention in the first place, of course, and that still costs lots of money. But that’s the beginning of the story, not the end. You have to turn attention into permission, permission into learning, and learning into trust. Then you can get consumers to change their behavior.”
The easy part? Doing what we always do. The hard part, giving the power back to the customer as to whether they want to be involved. Not an easy thing to do –or work with. If you listen to Godin, he insists it will soon be the only way to market:
“I see three huge shifts. First, we’re going to move from a world where companies sell products to one where they sell subscriptions. Do you know how much it costs America Online to attract one new customer? Something like $98. That’s how expensive it is now to talk to strangers. But AOL can afford to spend that much because it’s selling subscriptions, not a one-time service. So companies will focus more on creating deep relationships with existing customers than on attracting new customers. Marketing will become less visible – a private affair between consumers and the companies they buy from.
The business model I love most is the Book-of-the-Month Club. You give the company permission to make buying choices for you. Why can’t lots of other companies operate this way? If I were advising Amazon.com, I would tell [CEO] Jeff Bezos to stop engaging in price wars with Barnes & Noble and to start his own version of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Instead of creating just one club, he could create thousands of clubs, each one tailored to the preferences of certain customers. I love business books. Once a month, in my email box, I should find a message about the four business books that Amazon.com thinks I should read. I’m willing to give Jeff and his people permission to make choices for me. In that sense, I am willing to subscribe to Amazon.com.
At the same time, Jeff’s competitors will have to try to convince me to switch to them – as expensive as that may be. And this is the second big shift: Forget interruption marketing as we know it today. Tomorrow I’ll have someone or something that negotiates on my behalf. Every time a company wants me to pay attention, it will have to offer some tangible benefits. Essentially, companies will have to pay me to listen to their ads.
The flip side of this change – and this is the third big shift in marketing – is that less and less content will be free. You will pay for things you don’t have to pay for today, because interruption-based advertising will not be able to subsidize them anymore. And if you’re not willing to pay for content, you’ll have to put up with a world filled with even more interruptions. We’re living with this shift already. You can pay $4 to see a movie without interruption, either on video or through pay-per-view. Or you can wait a year, see it for free on network television, and endure constant interruptions. More and more entertainment will end up working this way.”
It’s not hard to see how Seth Godin earned his title as marketing guru when he talks. His passion and vision make you realise that in the end we are dealing with people. Informing people and educating them is the central premise of permission marketing, as well as the central premise of successful marketing. Our shift as a Calgary marketing company needs to be to pay more attention to the audience, and less to the way we want to market to them. Trust is the new currency.
It only leaves us to wonder where marketing will take us next.