It’s astonishing to think that Seth Godin’s book, Permission Marketing, was published in 1999. It feels like it’s been out there a lot longer. And, of course, in many ways it has.
The idea of building trust and relationships with your customers has been around for thousands of years. The only bump in the road has been the mass marketing frenzy of the last century. Even during the last quarter of that century, direct marketers practiced permission marketing through direct mail. Only then did permission marketing fine-tune the art of turning cold prospects into warm prospects, warm prospects into customers, and customers into advocates.
So what was so special about Godin’s articulation of permission marketing? First, his timing was perfect. Second, he pointed the way forward for marketing through the Internet. The Internet is a direct marketer’s dream because it’s so easy for a customer to respond.
But if there is anything more remarkable than how quickly permission marketing took hold among businesses online, it’s how suddenly the practice has been diluted, polluted, and drained of all its early promise. Here’s how it happened:
Inflated numbers. The modern practice of permission marketing began with the simple act of asking a prospect if it’s OK to get back to her, to start a dialogue.