Self-Entitled vs. Permission Marketing for Musicians

This is an adapted piece from something that I wrote on my marketing blog.

Permission Marketing Vs. Self-Entitled Marketing

The concept of “Permission Marketing” has been around for some time. Popularized by marketing guru and author Seth Godin, it essentially boils down to marketers asking for “permission” before advancing to higher levels of engagement or a purchasing process with customers. It’s often contrasted with what Godin likes to call “interruption marketing,” the practice where advertisers try and “interrupt” a person’s normal pattern through an advertising blitz (such as a billboard, tv commercial, magazine ad, etc.).

I believe that a better descriptor for interruption marketing and stronger contrast to permission marketing is the idea of “self-entitled” marketing. Self-Entitlement generally refers to the idea that one feels they deserve access, privileges, or rights without regard to others and (whether it is deserved or not). It’s narcissistic. And it’s also the approach that many brands take to spread their message.

Godin’s describes permission marketing by writing, ”Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit.” Self-entitled marketing is like asking for a long-term commitment with the first impression.

Let’s apply these concepts to the world of musicians…

Do you remember when Myspace was at its height and everyone was scrambling for more “friends” on the website? People used to be impressed with those numbers (ironically, more so than actual music plays) until it was learned that anyone with enough patience could send friend requests all day long. The more resourceful ones used an automated bot service to do the same thing. However, of the thousands of “fans” generated by this method, how many led to record sales? How many eagersly signed up for the mailing list or bought tickets for a show? The money and time spent on this probably would have been better invested into developing a level of engagement with fans, the slow and steady way of growing the fan base.

These days, ads are becoming a little more refined. A Facebook ad or Google AdWords campaign would probably be more effective than spending the same amount on a radio commercial simply because of the ability to target the audience more finely. However, the most effective ads are going to be the ones that create interest more so than the ones that demand a commitment immediately. Think of it as dating: you want to leave an air of mystery, leave them wanting more.

If you think of social media as a telephone rather than a micriphone, you’ll see greater results. Even Facebook’s algorithims are designed to give priority over interactions; the more your fans interact with you (through comments and likes), the more likely your posts will actually appear in their Feed and spread to others. The Twitter community and YouTube is also built around interactions.

The lesson here is to sound less like a door-to-door salesman and more like a best friend. People are more likely to support their friends than strangers. People are more likely to open emails from somene they interact with than someone who is always asking them to buy something.

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