Applying permission on marketing and internalization

Permission marketing, the practice of marketing to consumers only after gaining their express permission, is tool companies can use to break through clutter and build customer loyalty. With the help of large databases and advanced software, companies can store giga-bytes of customer data and send targeted, personalized marketing messages to customers.

A pioneer in the technique estimates that each American receives about 3,000 marketing messages daily. He maintains that marketers can no longer use “interruption marketing� via mass-media campaigns. Marketers can develop stronger consumer relationships by respecting consumers’ wishes and sending messages only when they express a willingness to become more involved with the brand. Effective permission marketing works because it is “anticipated, personal, and relevant.�

1. Offer the prospect an incentive to volunteer (e.g. free sample, sales promotion, or contest).
2. Offer the interested prospect a curriculum over time that teaches the consumer about the product or service.
3. Reinforce the incentive to guarantee that the prospect maintains the permissions.
4. Offer additional incentives to get more permission from the consumer.
5. Over time, leverage the permission to change consumer behavior toward profits.

Permission marketing does have drawbacks. One is that it presumes consumers to some extent “know what they want.� But in many cases, consumers have undefined, ambiguous, or conflicting preferences. In applying permission marketing, consumers may need to be given assistance in forming and conveying their preferences. “Participatory marketing� may be a more appropriate concept because marketers and consumers need to work together to find out how the firm can best satisfy consumers. Marketers must now “walk the walk� to deliver the brand promise. They must adopt an internal perspective to consider what steps to take to be sure employees and marketing partners appreciate and understand basic branding notions, and how they can help or hurt brand equity. Internal branding is activities and processes that help to inform and inspire and inspire employees. It is critical for service companies and retailers that all employees have an up to date, deep understanding of the brand and its promise.

Brand bonding occurs when customers experience the company as delivering on its brand promise. All of the customers’ contacts with company employees and company communication must be positive. The brand promise will not be delivered unless everyone in the company lives the brand. One of the most potent influences on brand perception is the experience customers have with company personnel.

Companies need to engage in continual open dialogue with employees. Some firms have pushed “B2E� (business – to –employee) programs through corporate intranets and other means. Disney is so successful at internal branding and having employees support its brand that it even holds seminars at the Disney Institute on the “Disney style� for employees from other companies

Holistic marketers must go even further and train and encourage distributors and dealers to serve their customers well. Poorly trained dealers can ruin the best efforts to build a strong brand image.