Working On A Cross-functional Team

In the era of globalization and centralization, we are more and more likely to be working on a cross-functional team made up of people from different departments, geographies or subsidiaries across the organization. Cross-functional teams are helpful and efficient because it is hard to implement long-lasting change if only one department is on board. In … Read more

Permission Marketing

It’s astonishing to think that Seth Godin’s book, Permission Marketing, was published in 1999. It feels like it’s been out there a lot longer. And, of course, in many ways it has.

The idea of building trust and relationships with your customers has been around for thousands of years. The only bump in the road has been the mass marketing frenzy of the last century. Even during the last quarter of that century, direct marketers practiced permission marketing through direct mail. Only then did permission marketing fine-tune the art of turning cold prospects into warm prospects, warm prospects into customers, and customers into advocates.

So what was so special about Godin’s articulation of permission marketing? First, his timing was perfect. Second, he pointed the way forward for marketing through the Internet. The Internet is a direct marketer’s dream because it’s so easy for a customer to respond.

But if there is anything more remarkable than how quickly permission marketing took hold among businesses online, it’s how suddenly the practice has been diluted, polluted, and drained of all its early promise. Here’s how it happened:

Inflated numbers. The modern practice of permission marketing began with the simple act of asking a prospect if it’s OK to get back to her, to start a dialogue.

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Re-engineering brands

By leveraging the capabilities of electronic networks, infomediaries will help undermine the value of brands in conventional markets. They’ll do so by removing the two constraints that make brands viable today, both of which have to do with scarce resources:1. Limited information about vendors.2. Limited “shelf space” for access to products or services.

In the process, they will undermine the two basic planks of a conventional marketer’s power base-control over information and presence – and force marketers to find new sources of economic power. Marketers can either evolve into infomediaries and regain privileged access t information, or they can focus on product innovation and commercialization by developing the skills needed to deliver tangible value back to customers more quickly than anyone else.

For example, when customers lack detailed information about the full range of vendors or the functionality and pricing of their products, a brand becomes a proxy for imperfect information. Rather than overinvesting in collecting difficult-to-find information, customers rely on brands to assure them of a predictable product experience. McDonald’s may not offer the best meal experience, but it does offer a predictable meal experience relative to a no-name restaurant where the consumer may experience either a gourmet treat or food poisoning.

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