Are You a Clutter Cutter?

You are exposed to almost 3,000 marketing messages a day. That is more than 1 million a year. That is a lot of clutter. Your customers (patients, clients, referral sources and target markets) also get hit with 1 million marketing messages a year. That is a lot of clutter.

Do your marketing messages cut through the clutter? Are you a marketing clutter cutter? If you are, that is great and you can stop reading right now. But if you are not, or if you are unsure, then read on for a marketing concept that you need to know.

Permission marketing

Permission marketing is a term used in e- (as in e-mail) marketing. Marketers will “ask permission” before they send their marketing messages to prospective customers.

Seth Godin, who was the founder and chief executive officer of Yoyodyne, an industry-leading interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! Inc. acquired in 1998, had this to say about permission marketing: “Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers,” he said. “It is not just about entertainment – it is about education.”

The number one benefit of permission marketing is that you are communicating with the people who have already shown an interest in, and are receptive to, your marketing messages. That is important when you are attempting to cut through the clutter. Your goal is to have your marketing message received and remembered, and by marketing to those who have already given you permission, you are ahead of the game.

Everybody knows how costly it is to obtain new customers (clients, patients, referral sources and influencers) as opposed to keeping an existing customer. A common figure used is that it is 10 times more costly to obtain a new customer versus keeping an existing customer. Encourage your existing customers – and interested potential customers – to give you their permission to market directly to them.

Value of e-marketing

© 2007/
Steve Dibblee

E-marketing, whether it is through simple, text-only e-mails or HTML e-mail newsletters is, as Godin says, “…the finest direct-marketing mechanism in the history of mankind. It is direct mail with free stamps, and it allows you to create richer and deeper relationships than you have ever been able to create before. The real killer approach for marketers isn’t the Web – it is e-mail.”

I love that quote. It paints a picture, doesn’t it? Direct mail with free stamps. If you send out a significant amount of mail – or you are responsible for paying the postage bill, you get it. Who wouldn’t love to send out direct mail and not have to pay for stamps?

How do you get people to give you permission to market directly to them via e-mail? Obviously you have to have something of interest to offer them. Content is critical. Permission marketing is not permission to spam. You have been entrusted with a privilege, so remember, content is critical.

Entertainment and education

Entertainment and education are two of the most effective ways to turn a stranger into a friend and a friend into a loyal customer. I have given hundreds of companies permission to market directly to me. Some e-mail me daily, some weekly, some monthly, some quarterly and some whenever they feel like it. Some are super fancy flash e-mail newsletters and some are nothing but pages of text.

The format does not matter to me for the ones I always read, regardless of the frequency. They are the ones I can count on consistently to amuse or educate me. By educate, I mean teach me something or let me know about something – a shoe sale perhaps – that will save me money. A combination of education and entertainment – like one of my favorite marketing gurus Sean D’Souza of Psychotactics uses in his e-mail newsletters – is my favorite.

Content is critical

As some of you know, I have a weekly O&P marketing e-mail newsletter. It has all kinds of marketing tips and information. I have a loyal readership and am happy with my open and click through rates as I work hard at making sure the information is useful and relevant.

Content is critical. However, I have to say that one of the highest click through rates I have ever had was on the bubble wrap link. Last Christmas, I threw in a link to an online bubble wrap popping game, just for fun. People loved it because it was fun. Entertain and educate and your target markets will be happy they gave you their permission to market directly to them.

For more information:

Elizabeth Mansfield

Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing Solutions. She can be reached at

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