Permission Marketing

September 23, 2009
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I had an interesting experience last week with permission marketing. I had been to see a house that was for sale around the corner from home and, as a part of viewing the house, I had to leave my mobile number and name with the agent at the door. In the past when I have asked about this process it has been described as security.

So when I received a text message on my mobile about another house for sale in the neighborhood I was a bit surprised, but let it go – by the third message, I felt the need to do something.

When I questioned this tactic the agent described the messages as a service that they provide, but he was a bit stumped when I asked at what point in our relationship did I give permission to be spammed? Apparently I was the first person to make a complaint, and I have been lead to believe that I have now been taken off their list.

I have always held the view that no one has the right to spam. In Australia, if you hold an existing relationship with a customer, then you have the right to communicate with the customer unless they opt out.

But what constitutes a relationship? By viewing a house I don’t believe I have a relationship with a real estate agent. If I take that



I had an interesting experience last week with permission marketing. I had been to see a house that was for sale around the corner from home and, as a part of viewing the house, I had to leave my mobile number and name with the agent at the door. In the past when I have asked about this process it has been described as security.

So when I received a text message on my mobile about another house for sale in the neighborhood I was a bit surprised, but let it go – by the third message, I felt the need to do something.

When I questioned this tactic the agent described the messages as a service that they provide, but he was a bit stumped when I asked at what point in our relationship did I give permission to be spammed? Apparently I was the first person to make a complaint, and I have been lead to believe that I have now been taken off their list.

I have always held the view that no one has the right to spam. In Australia, if you hold an existing relationship with a customer, then you have the right to communicate with the customer unless they opt out.

But what constitutes a relationship? By viewing a house I don’t believe I have a relationship with a real estate agent. If I take that thought further, if I hold an electronic banking profile, do I have a relationship with the bank? The banks answer should be a resounding yes, but it is interesting that as an organization they have pushed me away from any meaningful contact or relationship and as soon as it is time for them to market a new product or service they conveniently have a relationship again. This is not just a banking issue. My telecommunication provider only ever wants to talk to me when a contract is near due, my utilities providers send someone to my house who tries to bully me into showing him my last bill, and the list goes on.

Legally, before organizations hit ‘send’ on a campaign they must ask for permission to communicate with consumers. This can be in small print, but it does have to be there. Further you are required to have a process that takes care of consumers that want to opt out. These are the basics of direct marketing, but they are not the basis of a relationship.

A relationship requires ongoing care and compassion. So when you next decide you have a relationship with someone, perhaps you should consider if they would think the same. Otherwise you are in danger of thinking you have a relationship when the other person is not aware that it exists, which is both sad and creepy.

If you get it wrong – you are just another spammer and we have laws about that.

How do you ensure that you have a relationship with your customers?

Daniel Tehan
www.linkedin.com/in/danieltehan