Why Permission Marketing doesn’t work

The concept of “Permission Marketing” is not new—it simply means to communicate with your target audience (mostly via email) after gaining permission to do so. (The concept is basically a modernized version of the mailing list concept.)

The concept of “Permission Marketing” was popularized by this book written by the author Seth Godin.
Contrary to popular belief, I feel that the concept is both outdated and ineffective at this point.
Why? Because people are getting tired of giving out their email addresses.
And why is that? Most people, drawing from experience, feel it simply will not be worth their while to do so.

Case in point: A short article by Stanley Bing in the May 4 edition of the Fortune magazine titled Toyota, I Love You. Goodbye. In the said article, Stanley—who’s a master storyteller with a gift for discussing life’s challenges in marvellously authentic & amusing ways—notes that while he was thankful to Toyota for making his recent car purchase look easy, he was really unhappy by the torrent of follow-up letters he consequently received from them. Here’s a short excerpt:

“I have on my desk as I write this a stack of e-mail printouts half an inch high, and that’s from less than six weeks! It’s too much! My in-box is clogged with your importunings, offerings, and requests for validation. Stop! I beg you!

They began reasonably enough. Your General Manager congratulated me on my purchase. I was happy to hear from her, though her tone was a little ominous. “Our interest in your satisfaction is just the beginning,” she wrote. “We look forward to a continuing relationship, and it is our sincere desire that you remain completely satisfied.” This made me a tiny bit uneasy. Who can offer complete satisfaction to another in this life?… Then came the offers of toys, keepsakes, and inducements for me to return, to see you, to keep up the pace and tenor of our former association…” (You can read the whole article here.)

My 2¢: Stanley did not care about the follow-up letters because they were lacking personality.
In a word: boring.
In his book about permission marketing, Seth notes that PEOPLE ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.
I disagree. There’s no attention crisis in the world.
We simply don’t like boring stuff. The concept of permission marketing is both outdated and ineffective at this point—not in theory but in the way most people are implementing it.

This is your big opportunity.
What most people really want are meaningful stories from people they trust.
But don’t take my word for it. Just ask Groupon—the fastest growing company EVER.