Ask Me Anything Question
I’ve heard the term “permission marketing” used a lot recently. Does it apply to arts marketing?
Steven Roth’s Answer
In 1999, marketing guru Seth Godin published a book titled Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers. To summarize, Seth’s premise is as follows: “For ninety years, marketers have relied on … Interruption Marketing. Interruption, because the key to each and every ad is to interrupt what the viewers are doing in order to get them to think about something else.” Today this “interruption” manifests itself in TV ads, newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, junk mail, SPAM emails, and many other forms.
It’s likely that you’re ignoring, deleting, trashing, unsubscribing from, etc. these ”interruptions.” This response is expected because you have no existing relationship with the organization that is interrupting your life. Because you have not given these organizations permission to contact you.
As an arts marketer, how do you gain permission? First of all, the person you are trying to connect with has to have “raised her hand” in some way that indicates she wants to start/continue/renew a relationship with you. These “hand raisers” can run the gamut from long-term subscribers, to someone who is just interested in finding out more about your organization, and all types of behavior in between.
It’s important to note that not all permissions are created equal. We’ve all heard the story of the first-time ticket buyer who, in the first month after her first attendance receives: a welcome/thank you/recognition email, a survey, a phone call to become a subscriber, a mailing about upcoming productions/performances, a Facebook post asking her to “like” your organization, a banner ad, and a solicitation to make donation. The poor new-to-file may have raised her hand by buying her first ticket, but that does not mean she has given you permission to inundate/interrupt her with offers and messages she is not ready for.