Permission, Junk and Spam

Since I wrote Permission Marketing in 1999, marketing has changed more than any of us could imagine. One of the biggest changes is the ubiquity of search.

The idea that people would seek out marketing, ads and content the same way they sought out books is radical. The bookstore is filled with hundreds of thousands of titles, most of which I have no interest in. That’s okay, though, because books mind their own business, just waiting for someone to find them. Finding what I want isn’t particularly difficult, and if you want to write a junky book, it’s fine with me, as long as you’re willing to be responsible for what you say.

That same dynamic now drives everything from radio shows to web sites to scuba tanks. Go ahead and make what you want, as long as you stand behind it and don’t bother me. If you want to sell magnetic bracelets or put risque pictures on your website, it’s your responsibility, your choice. Want to find a website featuring donkeys, naked jugglers and various illicit acts? It’s junk, sure, but it’s out there. You just have to go find it. Junk turns into spam when you show up at my doorstep, when your noise intercepts my quiet.

The result of Google and the prevalence of search means that people are far more forgiving of things that need to be sought out, and less patient than ever with selfish marketers that insist on showing up in your face.