to iNsights - The Cimino Direct Library
Marketing—Geniuses or Yoyos?
By John L. Cimino
His name is Seth Godin. His company is called Yoyodyne Entertainment.
He says, “We are entering an era that’s going to change the
way almost everything is marketed to almost everybody.”
His revolutionary concept is called Permission Marketing. Here’s
an excerpt from the April-May issue of Fast Company magazine in which
Godin outlines his model for the new form of marketing:
“The biggest problem with mass-market advertising is that it fights
for people’s attention by interrupting them. A 30-second spot interrupts
a Seinfeld episode. A telemarketing call interrupts a family dinner. A
print ad interrupts this article. The interruption model is extremely
effective when there’s not an overflow of interruptions. But there’s
too much going on in our lives for us to enjoy being interrupted anymore.”
Can’t argue with that. So what’s the solution?
Says Godin, “the challenge for companies is to persuade consumers
to raise their hands—to volunteer their attention. You tell consumers
a little something about your company and its products, they tell you
a little something about themselves, you tell them a little more, they
tell you a little more—and over time, you create a mutually beneficial
learning relation-ship. Permission marketing is marketing without interruptions.”
Pretty solid thinking from someone who got the name of his company from
the movie, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai! (A cult movie from the 70s
which launched the careers of actors like Peter Weiler, John Lithgow and
Yoyodyne is headquartered outside New York City. The company works with
clients like AT&T, H&R Block, MCI, and Volvo. All of its campaigns
use the Web, email, and other online media. All of them are built around
game shows, contests, or sweepstakes.
Apparently, Yoyodyne’s offbeat techniques are catching on. The company
has about 1 million active participants in its games database, and has
sent more than 110 million E-mail messages to influence consumer behavior.
If you buy into the age of relationship marketing—and what direct
marketer doesn’t—you’ve got to admit that this is pretty
Permission Marketing even has its own rules already.
Here they are:
1. Permission must be granted—it can’t be presumed. Buying
addresses and sending direct mail is not permission—it’s spam,
and it’s likely to be ignored. Customers don’t want to be
bought and sold and then marketed to.
2. Permission is selfish. People grant their permission only when they
see that there’s something in it for them. And you’ve got
about two seconds to communicate that something.
3. Permission can be revoked as easily as it’s granted. It can also
deepen over time. The depth of permission depends on the quality of interaction
between you and your customers.
4. Permission can’t be transferred. It’s a lot like dating.
You can’t give a friend the authority to go out on a date in your
So what do you think? Is Permission Marketing just the latest hype in
a never-ending progression of buzz-words—from database marketing
to relationship marketing to one-to-one marketing?
It’s too soon to tell. Obviously, what allows this concept to work
is how incredibly cheap it is to use email to send millions of messages.
I can’t imagine the mathematical consequences of using direct mail
to get people’s permission to sell them something—it’d
be financially catastrophic.
But doesn’t human nature exhibit the tendency to devalue what’s
cheap and easy—to eventually place less and less emphasis and value
on that which is so omnipresent.
Whenever I get E-mail from a friend, the thought always crosses my mind
that they didn’t want to—or didn’t have the time to—talk
But Permission Marketing contains some powerful ideas. I think I’ll
be keeping an eye on this one.
©2001 , John