Permission marketing v/s Interruption Marketing

What is a better way to get married?

Option A involves hiring an agent to find the best singles bar in town, hiring a tailor to stitch you the best suit there is , walking into the bar and proposing marriage to every single lady till one of them says yes. If you are unsuccessful, chances are that you will fire the agent and the tailor and hire new ones to start all over again at another single’s bar. This is the way most marketers run their show. Building fancy ads, researching an ideal place to run their ads and hoping that one out of thousand will buy their product. If it doesn’t work, they “fire” the agency.
Versus, option B which is a lot more exciting and rational. It is called dating. A permission marketer goes on a date. And if it goes well, the two of them go on a date and this continues till they are comfortable enough and the man (yes, stereotypical proposal) is sure that he has a shot at hearing a “yes” at his proposal.

Permission marketing is a term coined by Seth Godin and is in stark contrast with the traditional form of advertising which is referred to, by Seth, as interruption marketing. This is because every advertisement on the television interrupts a TV show, every pop up on a website is interrupting our browsing experience, every flyer between newspapers is coming in the way of our perusal. An average consumer is faced with 1 million advertisements per year (3000 per day). In an era of information overload, marketers find it extremely difficult to sell using traditional methods of advertising. Smart marketers have discovered that customers don’t care. They are ignoring every advertisement that comes their way. They realize that with every new advertisement, the value of advertisements is plummeting. They are aggressively thinking of new and creative ways to sell their product. Permission marketing is a method that ensures sale.


Permission marketing, also synonymous with in-bound marketing,(coined by Hub-Spot’s Brian Halligan.Hub Spot is an internet marketing company based in Cambridge, Masachussets) unlike interruption marketing (which seeks to interrupt a customer from what he/she is doing to concentrate on the ad) seeks the permission of the customer in advance to inform him about a particular product/ service. Permission marketing is one where a customer can be thought of, as a volunteer. And the organization, as the provider of information to this volunteer. Permission marketing is more directed and focused as against interruption marketing. Customer’s attention is not a given in the latter. Hence, the marketers, throughout their advertisement, are obsessed with making the advertisement interesting enough to keep the customer’s attention. You must have observed how a 15 second advertisement will talk about the product in the last 3 seconds. The first 12 seconds will be a desperate attempt to attract the viewer’s attention. Whereas permission marketing involves a pre-established interest as the customer’s interest is what has motivated him to ask for information from the marketer. Given the interest, the marketer can spend more time talking about the product and not be careful about  wrapping  every bit of information with entertainment and excitement to woo the customer. Because the customer is already wooed to an extent.


Real permission is different form assumed permission. Permission is not about somehow getting my email id and sending me emails. If I don’t complain about the emails I receive from you, it does not mean that you have my permission. Real permission works like this : if you stop showing up, people complain. Permission is not snatched. It is earned.


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