At its simplest Permission Marketing requires the advertiser to obtain the permission of the customer prior to sending their promotional message. We see two key parts to this statement. Firstly you need to find your potential customers and then you need to obtain their permission.
You might meet a potential customer in any number of ways. The easiest is by having an existing customer sign up to receive your special offers or newsletters voluntarily. Start by ensuring you have a “sign up” option on your website and, if relevant, a sign up sheet in your store. The customers who sign up voluntarily know (or at least hope) they will be hearing from you – so touch base soon before they forget you or your business.
You might gather business cards at conferences or seminars or meet an interesting contact at a BBQ. An important difference here is that these people are contacts – not yet customers but you need to treat each and every one of them as a potential customer. We don’t think it is very useful to just assume a business card exchange is all the permission you need – how many cards have you handed out in the last month and to whom? If one of those contacts emails you out of the blue in a couple of months time will you still be interested in hearing from them? We think it is more effective to check with those contacts at the time of exchange cards that they do want to hear from you – then follow up nice and promptly and start getting to know them – with luck one day they might move from being contacts to being customers.
You might incent new customers to give you the time of day by making a special offer or giving some kind of benefit (such as valuable information, a decent discount or a free sample). You could get this offer out there by advertising in many different mediums (online, radio, television or print) depending on the nature of your business. You might also ask your existing customers to recommend you or your business to a friend – just don’t neglect to thank them!