marketing with permission

Asking For Permission With Your Marketing

Gee RanasinhaBusiness, Marketing

Everyone hates advertising.

If you’re like me, the instant the TV show you’re watching goes to a commercial break you almost unconsciously reach for the remote control to change the channel.

We buy set-top boxes that allow us to record the TV that we want, while at the same type removing the advertising that we don’t want. We cut the cord and bypass cable / satellite TV altogether, opting instead for (usually) subscription-based streaming services.

We are even willing to pay certain websites for the sole purpose of removing the advertising from our viewing experience. Our hatred of advertising seemingly has no bounds.

Advertising’s Response? More Advertising

The advertising industry’s response to get their product in front of our faces? They try to remove the choice – and add more advertising.

They force us to watch ads at the beginning of web videos and DVD films that we can’t skip past. When we enabled pop-up window blockers in our browsers, they put the ads INSIDE the web pages themselves.

But it wasn’t always like this.

I remember when ad campaigns – both print and TV – were more creative, interesting and entertaining than many of the articles or shows that they served to punctuate. I remember the care and courtesy advertisers gave consumers via the quality of the advertising. When agencies would care about the message and the product as much as the entertainment value. When agencies would book Oscar-nominated directors such as David Fincher, Ridley Scott, or even Martin Scorsese. When ads were as revered as the shows they punctuated.

I’ll admit that there are still some great – though too rare – ads being made today (such as those from Guinness, Old Spice and of course this one).

But how did we get here? How did we get to the stage where we hate most advertising?

Permission-Based Marketing: The Consumer Is In Control

It’s because today, as consumers, we’ve realized that it’s us who are now in control. As a result, we expect more that just being talked at by advertisers. Today, we prefer to be asked for our permission before being sold to.

Coined by marketing guru Seth Godin, the term “Permission Marketing” argues that most advertising fails today because it is “interruptive.” Your audience were happy enough doing whatever they were doing before – BAM! – you’ve got in their way. The very act of interrupting your audience from whatever they were – watching a TV show, reading a website, etc. – has automatically put them into a defensive position. You’re really going to have to struggle to win them over.

In contrast to such interruptive marketing, Permission Marketing argues that to get someone’s attention you need to first get their permission. Their permission to speak to them, contact them, interrupt them.

How? Maybe by giving them a free sample/trial of your product or service. Allowing them to download an eBook on a topic they’re interested in. Having them subscribe to your eNewsletter, podcast, or blog that regularly dispenses pertinent, educative, and valuable content (i.e. not the same old tired sales spiel).

Marketing With Their Permission Shows Respect

Once you have their permission – and therefore their attention – you are on the way to establishing a relationship with your customer, and making the sale. By asking for permission, you’re demonstrating to the customer that you give a stuff about them. You’re showing respect.

Advertising needs to evolve – in the same way as its target audience has evolved – if it is to remain relevant.

About the Author
Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha is CEO and founder of KEXINO. He's been a marketer since the days of 56K modems, lectures on marketing and behavioral economics at two European business schools, and was noted as one of the top 100 global business influencers by (those wonderful people who make financial software).

Originally from London, today Gee lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and teenage son.

Find out more about Gee at Follow him on X/Twitter at KEXINO, on Facebook at, or on LinkedIn at


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