Do you know the difference between shotgun marketing and permission marketing? In this post, I’ll discuss both concepts.

To start, it’s worth noting that some marketers do not seem to be aware of (or care about) wasting people’s time. They are too focused on making the sale or getting the clicks than providing anything of actual worth to people. They don’t care how many people’s time they waste, as long as one sucker falls for their gimmicks. 

The problem with focusing on the short-sell is that it ignores the customer lifetime value (CLV) metric. This metric tends to yield much higher profit than any one-off sale.  

Rethink shotgun marketing 

That’s why I typically recommend small businesses stay away from the model of “shotgun marketing,” where marketers make something that targets as many people as possible. This means the ads are made for large, unspecified groups who may or may not find them relevant. 

Before the widespread use of the Internet, this was the model. Sure, there were opt-in marketing tactics in the form of subscriptions that people had, but for the most part, shotgun marketing is what marketers did.

The thing about this type of marketing, is that it’s in your face whether you asked for it or not. This comes in the form of spam emails and gas station ads that automatically play when you’re pumping. It comes in the form of direct-mail ads marked “urgent” and fliers that are left on car windshields. TV/radio ads also fall into this category. 

Try permission marketing

The alternative is what Seth Godin coined “permission marketing.” He refers to this as “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”

Since it targets people who actually want to hear from you, it ignores the rest of the populous who couldn’t care less about you. This type of marketing recognizes that your product or service is not for everyone. 

Permission marketing comes in the following forms:

  • Useful announcements you signed up to hear about via email
  • Messages from brands you follow on social media
  • A new YouTube video that comes from a channel to which you are subscribing 

The key idea behind permission marketing is that it’s opt-in, meaning you can take it or leave it.  In addition, permission marketing allows the audience to make the first move. It gives them the option of whether or not they want to start a relationship with your brand. 

In short, permission marketing does a better job at honoring your audience’s time. And if you can show them honor in this way, you’ll likely have a greater return on each person’s CLV.

Does shotgun marketing have any value? 

I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for shotgun marketing approaches. Certain brands are going to appeal to the masses. This marketing approach tends to work best for large businesses, like Coke or Starbucks, that have plenty of cash.

But most businesses don’t have multi-million-dollar marketing budgets. This is where permission marketing comes in. 

It narrows down the audience, allowing you to reach a specific niche market.

Once you have your niche, you can grow your customer base. You can market to those followers who are interested in what your brand puts out.

And with this approach, you can avoid wasting people’s time. 

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