Should You ask Permission to Market?

Everyone despises commercials. It’s true, don’t even try to deny it! There is not one single person who would rather listen to a commercial than jam out to a new song. But we put up with them. Sort of.

Some people turn the volume down while a commercial is on the radio or take out the trash while they wait for their favorite television show. Yet, this form of conventional mass media marketing actually works. People hear a commercial about Tide laundry detergent, they may tune it out, but when they go to the grocery store, they select Tide because they have heard the name.

As defined by Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide, conventional mass media marketing is “print advertising (newspaper, magazine, insert, or run of paper), mass mailers, television (network, cable, or syndicated), radio (national, local, satellite, or podcast), and out of home advertising (billboards, street furniture e.g. bus shelters, transit, alternative, e.g. stadiums).”

Conventional mass media marketing is also referred to as interruption marketing, or put more simply, marketing that interrupts.

But we have stepped into a new age, the age of the internet, which has given rise to fragmented new age marketing. “Since the late 1990s, with the increasing popularity of the internet and, more recently, smartphones, many options now exist for advertisers to reach a global audience using digital media marketing methods such as mobile phone apps, Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, QR codes, gamification, and proximity marketing (e.g. Foursquare),” states SMstudy.

Fragmented new age marketing is also referred to as permission marketing, or put more simply, where people have to give you permission to market to them.

According to Krista Neher, content marketer for Boot Camp Digital, “Most online marketing is permission marketing, where people have to give you permission to market to them. People choose to follow you on Twitter, subscribe to your email or visit your website. They make the choice to connect with you (and allow you to market to them) because you provide great content. You must be interesting or useful for people to agree to your interruption marketing, or they will just ignore you. Permission marketing is about providing value so that people choose to view your marketing.”

So, should you stop putting marketing dollars towards interruption marketing? No, because as previously stated, it does work. But by putting an emphasis on permission marketing a company can ensure that their time and money is not being wasted. Conventional mass media marketing is not a sure deal, while fragmented new age marketing is.

Neher provides some guidelines to follow so you can successfully incorporate permission marketing into your marketing strategy.

  • Change your mindset: Stop thinking about selling, and start thinking about how you can create value for the people that you want to reach (in a way that links to your business and marketing strategy).
  • Change your message: Your message can’t be so advertising-ish. Your message must be something that people actually want to read (again, while at the same time growing your business).
  • Evaluate all of your channels: What is interesting is that even traditional marketing works better when it meets the difficult bar of both selling your product and being interesting to your customers.

This is an exciting time to be a marketer. The possibilities are endless as long as you follow one simple rule, show them, don’t tell them. But don’t forget conventional mass media marketing in the process. There is still a use for it. Interruptive and permission marketing can run parallel, it’s all about how you position your brand.

As noted by SMstudy, “With all of these options, many marketers find it beneficial to use an integrated approach to marketing by leveraging the strengths of various types of media.” Good luck fellow marketers, it’s a brave new world.

For more interesting articles visit http:://


Krista Neher, “Permission Vs. Interruption Marketing,” content writer at Boot Camp digital.


Jet Streamlining: Southwest Style

Early in the life of Southwest Airlines key success factors were identified that propelled the startup airline to become the number one domestic carrier in the United States.

For Southwest, key success factors were a commitment to efficiency in all aspects of the company and the fastest turnaround time of any airline. This allowed Southwest to log more flight time which meant more profit compared to other airlines that maintained longer ground time.

Over time Southwest has managed to keep to these simple key success factors and has seen sustained growth over its 45-year history. A true success story considering the airline industry is notoriously dicey and many run afoul and end up taking major losses or worse, bankruptcy.

Discussed in Marketing Strategy, the first book of the six-book SMstudy Guide, key success factors are one of the six components to be considered when conducting a market analysis.

The book states: Identifying key success factors helps an organization focus on existing strengths that have contributed to success and seize opportunities that can give it a competitive advantage. Such factors might include accessibility to essential resources, distribution channels, patents, operational efficiencies, technological superiority, and so on.

The other five components include: assessing distribution channels; cost structure analysis; understanding future growth rate; market trends and knowing the market size.

A thorough analysis of the airline industry allowed Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher and team to clearly identify what they were up against in regards to the industry’s pros and cons and where efficiencies could be incorporated to the benefit of both the company and its customers.

Beauty and the Beast of Unrealistic Expectations

In 2004, the Dove brand released the Real Beauty Campaign to spark discussion about beauty. The ad might have seemed unconventional to some, but the controversial questions sure made people reevaluate their own opinion of what beautiful is. The ad asked the public whether the women presented in photos were “Oversized or Outstanding” and “Wrinkled or Wonderful?” Viewers were asked to then vote at

This is an example of a positioning statement. According to Marketing Strategy, book 1 in the SMstudy Guide®, the positioning statement is the main output of the Create Differentiated Positioning process. It is generally a short sentence or phrase that captures the essence of the value a company’s products offers to its target customers. The positioning statement should create an image of the products, highlighting the most important benefits that differentiate them from the competitor products and that offer the most value. It should be specific enough that it covers any key benefits to target customers, yet broad enough that it stays relevant for product variants and for future market scenarios.”

The conversation did not stop there. In 2005, Dove kicked off the second and most iconic phase of its campaign by featuring six truly beautiful women—curves and all—to emphasize that you do not have to be thin to be beautiful. Women come in all shapes and sizes. Shortly thereafter, Spain banned overly thin models in the world of fashion.

In response, Dove launched a series of commercials artificially transforming real women into models. The commercials showed the digital process of developing an ad campaign. A “real” woman was transformed through hair and makeup before a photo shoot. Viewers then entered the world of Photoshop, where the woman’s neck was elongated, eyebrows were lifted and cheekbones were emphasized. How real is that?

Over the past decade, the campaign has evolved into much more. As the Real Beauty campaign points out, females are bombarded with an unrealistic and unattainable depiction of beauty, so Dove set out to change the minds of little girls around the world. The Self-Esteem Foundation was created by the Dove brand to inspire and educate young girls affected by low self-esteem, which can affect a child into her adult years and cause her to fall short in reaching her potential.

Dove not only marketed its brand but also widened the scope of what is considered beautiful.

For more interesting articles about Sales and Marketing, visit –

Like, Love, Heart, Share, Retweet: The Power is Real

It’s my morning routine: I sit, smartphone in hand, twitter app open and dig into the chatter. Quickly scrolling through breaking news, taking in headlines and laughing at Michael Moore’s latest quip, I pause on a presidential candidate’s tweet; a candidate I support. As I read the tweet and agree with its message, nodding my head in a “you said it, brother!” manner, I’m also debating whether to heart or even possibly retweet. I can see that it’s been hearted and retweeted thousands of times already and a part of me truly wonders what is lost to my 45 followers (most of whom are trying to sell me something) if I don’t share?

Will they miss out on some vital information?

Will they be annoyed?

Will they disagree?

And then, I have the aha moment.

The truthiest truth is this: I should “heart,” “like,” “share” and “retweet” content I believe in. Not for my followers, since they’ll most likely receive the same information from various other sources, but because we now have the power and the platform to really say what we think, feel, believe. And that is real power. And who am I to turn away such a gift?

All this power is made even more potent because everyone is listening!

For example, marketers and companies want to test the waters with a brand or product, continually finding new ways to slice and dice the data to arrive at the best metrics for planning and executing marketing and sales adventures.

Or political parties taking the temperature of the society on the importance of an issue or testing the potential of a particular smear campaign (I’ve seen it, it’s ugly).

Or news media outlets continually gathering sentiment, feedback and sometimes actionable intel (in the case of citizen journalism) on stories, topics, issues and events.

These golden nuggets of information or social insights reveal so much about who we are and what we care about that no marketer, politician or gatekeeper can resist.

After my early morning aha moment, my eyes are opened to the dangers inherent in such a powerful tool and what could happen if the tables were turned on us lovers of online democracy. Citing various examples of self-censorship, an article on The Intercept addresses a recent study on the chilling effect created by widespread surveillance. And that, of course, includes social media channels where users know they are being read, monitored.

According to author Glenn Greenwald, “The fear that causes self-censorship is well beyond the realm of theory. Ample evidence demonstrates that it’s real— and rational. A study from PEN America writers found that 1 in 6 writers had curbed their content out of fear of surveillance and showed that writers are “not only overwhelmingly worried about government surveillance, but are engaging in self-censorship as a result.”

And this is no stand-alone, one-off study. Data abounds (and compounds) indicating that we, the watched, are watching what we say.

This makes me fret— a sweaty-palmed, hand-wringing sort of fret.

If we begin to see ourselves as oppressed by the experience of sharing on social media, we’ve collectively gone through the looking glass. We’ve embraced an alternate reality where we are not free to contribute to the construction of a society or the promotion of an idea (or even product). We’ve turned away from the greatest contribution and benefit Twitter and other social media platforms provide…the opportunity to engage in the global marketplace of ideas, to hear and be heard, to make a difference.

So, setting fear aside, I embrace the power of my opinions and retweet that tweet. To do my part, to provoke, to question, and in this instance, to add my one voice to the many.

Even if it means being the 3,478th person to retweet a tweet, it matters.

For more on sales and marketing, visit


New Study Shows Mass Surveillance Breeds Meekness, Fear and Self-Censorship, Glenn Greenwald, April 26, 2016

Innovation, Marketing and Avoiding Failure

When famous, powerful people say, “I failed,” it gets people’s attention.

When famous, powerful people say, “I failed,” there’s usually a “but it wasn’t really my fault” lurking about.

When David Fradin, former division head at Apple, wrote a guest blog for Aha! titled “Why I Failed with the Apple III and Steve Jobs Succeeded with the Macintosh,”[i] it got the attention of SMstudy. And even though he never said it directly, there was an “it really wasn’t my fault” argument sidling through the piece. That argument really got their attention.

Fradin says that when he took over the Apple III product line he discovered ambiguity and confusion over the line’s targeted market segment. The product’s architect had a definite idea of who the Apple III was designed for and the marketing people did not agree, “To make matters worse, Marketing did not agree that there was any demand for the Apple III in the SOHO (Small Office, Home Office) or SMB (Small to Medium Business) market.”

How could the marketing department not see the logic of the architect? “That’s because Market Analysts had not identified such market segments yet. So, Apple’s own Marketing team could not identify those as market segments by themselves,” says Fradin. Claims like this—all too common with innovative and disruptive products—make the professionals at SMstudy sit up and take notice. They even smiled. That’s because they have addressed this situation in Marketing Strategy and Marketing Research, books one and three in their A Guide to the SMstudy® Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMBOK® Guide) series.[ii]

“Once the market has been defined, the company can then divide the market into various segments based on carefully chosen segmentation criteria. Customer segmentation should be used to help a company tailor specific offerings to segments that provide a distinct competitive advantage,” says the SMBOK® Guide, also known as the SMstudy® Guide. Though this seems fairly obvious on the surface, for innovative companies, this can be a problem. What segmentation criteria is the company going to carefully choose? The product may be so new that no one is sure how customers and user will actually use it. It is not surprising that the majority of the first Apple IIIs went to developers who were eager for more computing power, more drives, and did not care about the user-friendliness that was so important to Apple’s other users.

Even within the company, the Apple III had a distinct competitive advantage over the Apple II. The “product line was contributing over $100M per year in gross profits … because the Apple III focused on the Enterprise market and had a much higher Average Selling Price (ASP) than the Apple II.” But the company did not know it.

They did not know it because the company’s “metric — or key performance indicator (KPI) — was ‘units sold,’” according to Fradin, who says, “Instead, we should have focused on profitability.” The “units sold” metric came from the manufacturing division instead of marketing which added to a lack of focus. The process of determining metrics should “include the positioning statement, which describes the value a product or brand offers to its target customers; the Pricing Strategy; the Distribution Strategy; Industry Benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs); and the goals that are defined at the corporate and/or business unit or geographic levels,” according to the SMstudy® Guide. Things might have gone better for Fradin and the Apple III if someone had remembered this.

The Marketing Strategy book has a chapter that “deals with the selection of the metrics to be used for sales and marketing efforts, such as customer reach, brand perception, product availability, and sales and profitability.”

But what about the market being so new that Apple’s marketing people did not know what segmentation criteria to use?Marketing Strategy suggests beginning with existing reports, “There are two types of marketing research reports that can serve as inputs for market segmentation—industry reports and company commissioned reports.” From Fradin’s comments, it is clear that industry reports were not available, so the emphasis moves to ones “that have been created or commissioned in the past by the company to understand specific information about the markets under consideration that the company is not able to understand adequately through other sources.”

By the time Fradin took over the Apple III division it had already been through three project managers, including the man who later developed PowerPoint. Previous Apple computers had been revolutionizing the market, the Apple II had been around a while, and they were selling 40,000 of them per month. Apple was in a position to have some proprietary research that could give hints about where to go with the Apple III.

SMstudy’s Marketing Research book makes the point that “marketing research is linked to all other Aspects of Marketing as it provides critical insights that inform key decisions in all other marketing planning and strategies.” Some type of research was needed to help Apple focus on the Apple III. In researching market segments there are two broad categories of the data one can collect: primary and secondary. Secondary data is the type you can get from reports that have already been written such as industry reports. Primary data comes from activities that a company or its research organization carries out directly with the customers and market members. “As a rule, a researcher should always try to collect and analyze secondary data before moving to the collection and analysis of comparatively costly and time-consuming primary data,” suggests Marketing Research. And this makes sense.

What also makes sense is that to avoid making decisions like those that led to the failure of the Apple III, one should use some insightful marketing strategies and do a good bit of quality research. SMstudy and the SMstudy® Guide can help!

[i] Fradin, David. (3/21/16) “Why I Failed with the Apple III and Steve Jobs Succeeded with the Macintosh.” Aha! [Guest blog] Retrieved on 3/22/16 from

[ii] The SMstudy® Guide can be found at