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Asking For Permission

Gee Ranasinha Business

Everyone hates Advertising.

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

We buy TiVo, CanalPlus or Sky+ 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 are even willing to pay certain websites for the sole purpose of removing the advertising from our viewing experience.

So, what’s the advertising industry’s response to get their product in front of our faces? They try to remove the choice. 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. However, 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?

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, Permission Marketing argues that to get someone’s attention, you need to first get their permission. How? Maybe by giving them a free sample/trial of your product or service. Or having them subscribe to your eNewsletter or blog containing informative and valuable content, rather than the same old tired sales spiel. 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.

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

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About the Author
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Gee Ranasinha

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After founding a successful media production firm, Gee became worldwide director of marketing for a European software company. As well as CEO of KEXINO he's an author, lecturer, husband, and father; and one hell of a nice bloke. He lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and young son. Find out more about Gee at


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