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The Permission Marketing Proviso

The prevalence of permission marketing is rising--do you know how to play by the rules?

Why does permission marketing work? You can use e-mail to communicate with people frequently, quickly and unobtrusively-if they've given you permission. The name of this new game is to get people to point to themselves as hot prospects. With permission marketing, people agree to learn more about your company and its benefits, usually by registering their e-mail addresses on your company's or a related organization's Web site.

Your challenge is to persuade consumers to volunteer their attention. Tell them about your company and how your offerings can benefit them. Then let them tell you a bit about themselves. Over time, you create a mutually beneficial relationship. They want to know what you have to say. Once they know more and trust you, they can buy what you sell. There are four rules of permission marketing:

1. Permission must be granted. Buying names and addresses and then sending direct mail to these prospects is not permission. It's spamming, and guerrillas know spamming litters the marketing scene and is usually ignored.
2. Permission is selfish. Your prospects will grant you permission only if they clearly see there's something in it for them. You've got about three seconds to tell them what that something is.
3. Permission can be revoked. As easily as permission is granted, it can be withdrawn. On the other hand, it can also intensify over time. The intensity depends on the quality of the interaction between you and your customers.
4. Permission can't be transferred. Think of marketing as dating. You can't give a friend authority to go out on a date in your place.

Once people give you permission to market to them, then what? They want to get to know you better. They want you to solve their problems. This is your chance to show and tell them how your company can do that.

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