Godin talks about two ways to get married.
Traditional or "interruption" marketing has you conducting a bunch of demographic analysis to find the perfect singles bar. Then you buy a really flashy suit and shoes, and spend an evening marching up to every single person in the bar asking them to marry you.
"If the Interruption Marketer comes up empty-handed after spending the entire evening proposing, it is obvious that the blame should be placed on the suit and the shoes. The tailor is fired. The strategy expert who picked the bar is fired. And the Interruption Marketer tries again at a different singles bar.
". . . The other way to get married is a lot more fun, a lot more rational, and a lot more successful. It's called dating."
The kind of marketing I talk about in this blog and on my newsletter, whether I call it relationship marketing or permission marketing or one of about 20 other names, is this kind of "dating" marketing. It's about conversation and participation and relationship.
Even better, you can do it with as many people as you like and no one gets mad at you.
How to get the first date
If you're getting a project (a business, a new product, whatever) off the ground, the last thing you can afford to do is sink most of your marketing budget into one ad, one mailing, one really gigantic sign for your storefront, or even one Web site. Especially now, when most advertising just fades into white noise. There's too much of it and everyone has built amazing anti-advertising walls up to keep the noise from making us crazy.
Instead, put your time and resources into attracting potential customers into going on a date with you. Just a friendly, low-key, low-pressure date. Think coffee, not a weekend in Vegas.
The cliched way to do this is to find or make something valuable that you can give away. Swap it for an email address and permission to send stuff. This is a cliche because it works very well, so don't be shy about it.
When you're building that relationship, give about ten times as much as you ask for. Don't deluge people with a firehose of email. Don't pester them with "are you ready to buy yet" messages. At every moment, ask yourself if your actions are supporting your relationships or harming them.
When you do present something to sell, offer that in the spirit of giving too. If your product doesn't solve important problems for your customers, you need a new product.
If you want a refresher on the whole permission marketing thing, it so happens that Seth just wrote one. (I didn't find it until after I started this post, actually. Spooky.) Better yet, order and read the book. Mark all the pages up and cram it full of post-its, like I have.
Most business books are 110 pages of fluff packed around one or two good ideas. Permission Marketing is something more interesting than that. It's a manifesto for a completely different way for customers and businesses to relate to one another. It's a call for something that's cheaper, better and more fun than Interruption Marketing.
"If it sounds like you need humility and patience to do permission marketing, you're right. That's why so few companies do it properly. The best shortcut, in this case, is no shortcut at all."