Demand Generation

Shifting from an Interruption to Permission Marketing Model

In 1999, Seth Godin introduced the concept of permission marketing, giving name to a radically different approach to the traditional “interruption marketing,” which was and remains a stalwart of the advertising world.

Godin’s book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers, espoused this new marketing medium as an alternative to the time-honored and frankly annoying practice of having whatever you’re watching, reading, or browsing be continually interrupted by sales pitches.

Before we delve into the drawbacks or benefits of either approach, and how a database of people that have opted-in to receive information about your products and services results in better leads, let’s define our terms.

What is interruption marketing?

Interruption marketing is a traditional type of promotion. Marketers use it to promote products and/or services to an audience already paying attention to something else…hence the word “interruption.” Interruption marketing includes television and radio advertisements, newspaper and magazine ads, direct mail and catalogs, online banners and interstitial ads, social media promotions, email spam, and telemarketing messages.

The aim of interruption marketing is to broadcast the benefits of a product or service to the masses, in hopes of generating enough interest to convince people to purchase said product or service. It can be quite effective, especially for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, which typically uses emotional messaging to appeal directly to the consumer.

What is permission marketing?

Permission marketing approaches things differently in that it allows the audience to choose if they want to receive promotional messages. It’s about establishing trust before the actual marketing even begins.

As 70% of consumers suggest, it’s a much better way of receiving promos. They also consider it unacceptable for marketers to send anything to them without asking for permission first. And given recent moves by Apple to prioritize user privacy and limit consumer tracking—not to mention Google’s plans to phase out third-party cookies by 2023 as well as the continuing drum beat of worldwide privacy regulations—opt-in advertising is about to become not only de rigueur strategy, but an outright requirement.

Compared to wooing consumers, courting business-to-business (B2B) customers is harder, takes longer, and is more expensive. B2B buying is more complex, first and foremost because it involves more than one person. B2B purchases typically involve a team of people making a buying decision for their company, usually of a high-value (and high-dollar) product, service, or solution. In other words, there’s a lot more involved and a lot more at stake. For B2B customers, permission-based or opt-in marketing usually yields stronger leads and, ultimately, more sales.

It’s easy to see why: A significant advantage of permission marketing is its ability to produce highly qualified leads. If a person chooses to receive marketing messages, they’re more likely to proceed with their customer journey. It’s that simple.

Interruption marketing isn’t a great strategy for new businesses, while permission marketing can help startups establish themselves as experts in their field to build trust with prospective customers.
Interruption marketing isn’t a great strategy for new businesses, while permission marketing can help startups establish themselves as experts in their field to build trust with prospective customers.

How to Shift to a Permission Marketing Model

To be clear, we’re not trying to paint interruption marketing as the evil bogeyman of the advertising world. It still has its uses and can be very effective in some situations. It’s just a different model! But if you want to shift to an approach that’s more educational and informative, one that encourages prospects to pay more attention to your messaging, shifting to permission-based marketing can produce better results, loyal customers, and more sales opportunities.

Look at it from a different perspective

Think of permission marketing as if it’s the process of sales prospecting for “in-market” buyers.

Without a doubt, making a sale takes time and work. But if you already have a database of highly qualified leads or in-market buyers, the amount of time and work you need to invest in making a sale is dramatically reduced.

If you’ve already established trustworthy relationships with prospective customers, marketing successfully is more accessible from that point on. If qualified buyers are already lined up, all you have to do is guide these people accordingly, and voila, the chances of making a sale soar.

Build stronger relationships with existing clients

Remember to look back as you move forward. Acknowledging and evaluating existing client relationships is as valuable as forging new ones.

If these relationships continue to improve your business, bring them along for the ride. After all, permission marketing is fueled by its long-term commitment to everyone involved.

Capture names and email addresses

Learn everything you can about lead generation, demand generation, and how to drive better leads. That way you can design an irresistible lead capture form that reeks of consistency and reliability.

Embed the form in website sections that drive the most traffic. For example, excellent sections to place lead generation forms are the about and contact pages.


You can’t build trust without first building familiarity. If prospects don’t know anything about you, it’s difficult to succeed and excel at permission marketing.

Load your website with relevant information to eradicate this concern, remembering that your site’s content is a reflection and an extension of not just your business, but yourself too.

Narrate your story and captivate people with your information, goals, strengths, and core points. Your website is the ideal venue to humanize yourself before getting in front of an audience.

Form and nurture new relationships

Building and nurturing a client base is a core function of any marketing strategy.

As you shake hands with new clients, both literally and figuratively, focus on making a memorable first impression—doing so creates an opportunity for further interaction.

A simple way to do this is to offer rewards to anyone who chooses to interact.

For example, if you’re promoting products, reward potential customers with samples. And if you’re promoting a service, offer a free trial.

: When done well, permission marketing can help your business earn—and hold—your customer’s attention.
: When done well, permission marketing can help your business earn—and hold—your customer’s attention.

Know the prospects

The early stage of permission marketing is about asking and getting permission before promoting products and/or services. But while getting permission is vital to this marketing strategy, it’s not all there is to it.

Permission marketing is also about what’s next after permission is granted. It’s about building genuine relationships and continuously winning over prospects from that moment forward.

Therefore, you should seek to find out relevant information about your prospects. Information like their geographical location, likes and dislikes, etc.

Use this well of knowledge to create tailor-made content. According to research, 99% of marketers agree personalized content helps further customer relationships.

Continue providing value

The marketing model may be different. But it doesn’t mean you should take a break from offering something constant: valuable information.

If new and existing clients aren’t getting value, they’ll feel like they wasted time in a business. And as a result, they’ll stop wanting to receive promotional messages. Not only that, but they also feel discouraged about proceeding with the business relationship.

To constantly provide value, the objective is to justify a potential customer’s decision to “opt-in” and facilitate meeting their needs.

For example, suppose a business is in the content marketing sphere. In that case, the value it can continue providing includes articles about the latest trends regarding content creation, ways to generate compelling content marketing messages, and updated tips about content marketing.

The Constant Need to Adapt

Changing a marketing strategy may take much work, time, and energy. But change can be promising. And shifting from interruption to permission marketing can be more beneficial.

So rather than resist it, why not welcome it? And with an open mind, do what needs to be done to move closer to success: adapt.

If you need help transitioning to a permission-based marketing model for your business, give us a call and let us get to work.