Meatball Sundae: Part 1

by Aruna Singh

Seth Godin compares Old & New Marketing with compelling insight.

When I first started reading Seth Godin's book, I really didn't understand the premise of how meatballs could relate to ice cream sundaes. The truth is, these things don't relate at all. The title of this book is meant to signify that to have a successful business, you need to match your organizational structure with its marketing tactics. For example, Geico changed the entire structure of its insurance sales organization to accommodate sales by phone. In order to take advantage of new marketing opportunities, you need to change to old structure of your organization.

Many companies have successfully changed their organizations to meet the needs of our modern society (such as Apple and Google). Other organizations are struggling because they haven't tried to adapt to the changing environment (Office Max and Best Buy). Some companies have even managed to spring out of the new highly technological landscape of marketing (Kiva and Threadless). The background provided by analyzing the strategies of these companies will prove that an update of marketing strategy is necessary to survive the new economic landscape.

One particular comparison of Old and New Marketing that stood out to me was that in the times of Old Marketing, customers were being interrupted as opposed to New Marketing where customer invite advertisers by giving permission. For example, push marketing is an old school tactic where customers are interrupted at a time of the marketers choosing. A very relatable instance of this occurring is television commercials. This method has a very hit or miss approach. A commercial may reach a large audience, especially during the Super Bowl, per se, but very few of those audience members will actually purchase the product or service. This type of marketing lacks the ability to align with consumer interest and can even alienate consumers when it doesn't match preferences. According to Seth Godin, interruption marketing is both "expensive and inefficient."

On the other side of the coin, permission marketing,  is a new school approach that can both reduce costs and increase efficiency. Permission-based messages are deemed more successful because they are personalized, as in, they are only sent to customers who are interested in them. In my own experience, many of my favorite retailers have required that visitors to their website subscribe to an email newsletter before they can receive privileged deals and premium coupons. However, to my surprise, I discovered that permission marketing works offline, too. Loyalty card programs are one way merchants reward frequent customers who share such information as their postal and email addresses, ages, income, and even cell phone numbers in order to qualify for discounts. Well-executed permission marketing establishes trust-based relationships between marketers and consumers.

So, my question to you all is, which do you prefer? Interruption-driven or Permission-based Marketing?