Years ago, Seth Godin penned the famous phrase Permission Marketing and wrote a fantastic book on it. I have an autographed copy that I cherish and I’ve bought every book since. Permission-based marketing is fantastic because your customer has given you their permission to market to them – a fine agreement.
I’ve just picked up Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben at the behest of good friend Pat Coyle. I’ve read the first chapter and I’m hooked. The book edges toward the ‘Save the Earth’ side of the business but provides a different perspective on it that I appreciate.
I’m simply not a ‘green by guilt’ type of individual. I am truly a person who believes in capitalism and freedom. If you want to go drive an SUV that burns a ton of gas, that’s your prerogative. If you want to be irresponsible and destroy the world, then go ahead and try. Of course I also believe in the balance of power and democracy to try to stop you. Most of all, I believe in personal accountability for one’s actions… which brings me to responsible marketing.
Here in Indiana, they’ll give a home loan to practically anyone. Although the homes are affordable, Indiana has one of the fastest growing foreclosure rates in the country. Where is the accountability for people who sell these homes to people who they know can’t afford them? If a Doctor prescribed addictive pain killers to an addict, we’d be ready to throw them in jail. But an irresponsible marketer who sells products or services to people who don’t need them is not only patted on the back, they are financially rewarded. Sell more to more… that’s the driving motto!
I’ll return to my note about personal accountability for a moment… I do believe that we’re responsible for our own actions. I also think we need to apply pressure to those who try to manipulate or use peoples’ needs and wants. Responsible marketing should prevail. Responsible marketing means marketing a product or service you know someone needs to someone who needs it. Responsible marketers do consumers a favor, saving them time or money…. not sold them something just for the sake of selling it.
Within the first chapter of Deep Economy, it challenges the notion of ‘more is better’ – a culture that both government and marketers push. You’re consistently encouraged to buy the new toy, the new car, the new house… consume, consume, consume and you’ll be happier. But we aren’t happier. I won’t go into detail on this – it’s all in my Happiness Manifesto. I just hope as I read the book that it doesn’t scream ‘green’ but does push minimalistic societies that hold themselves personally accountable.
Stop selling more to more. Sell more by finding the people you know need it! If the goal of your acquisition is simply to out pace your retention, you’re probably not selling your goods to the right crowd – or perhaps you don’t have a good product or service to begin with.