Forgetting or Ignoring What We Learn As Children

As children, we learn the concept of permission. We know to ask (and say “please” even), and we understand that others should treat us the same way. So, why is it some marketers don’t follow these ruleswhen they engage with consumers? This week U.S. regulators floated a Do Not Track proposal for Web users aimed at enabling them to stop advertisers from tracking them online. As USA Today reported, a program like this would allow consumers to effectively ‘opt-out’ and ask not to be tracked by advertisers – a request they would have to respect. Predictably, the program has some powerful forces fighting it. As USA Today observes: there is a catch. “The burgeoning industry of advertising networks and online tracking services that have devised dozens of sophisticated ways to identify and profile specific consumers must be compelled to obey consumers’ wishes.” Coincidentally, we learned in the same week that the vast majority of consumers surveyed by Hipcricket see value in interacting with brands provided it’s on their terms. According to the 2010 Hipcricket Mobile Marketing Survey – a survey of 526 U.S. consumers –57 percent of respondents would be interested in opting in to a brand’s loyalty club via a mobile social networking application such as Facebook. It also found that 90 percent of those who had participated in a mobile loyalty club said they had gained value from the participation, a result that represents a significant untapped opportunity for brands. Marketing is more common sense than brain surgery. The idea of giving consumers what they want – and nothing more – is simple. Permission-based programs are the future (in my view, they are the present as well). The survey clearly shows that people will interact with brands and join loyalty programs if we ask them first. Tracking people online (particularly without transparency into the process) flies in the face of this practice and does anything but encourage interaction between people and brands. So I ask myself:Why is it so difficult for some marketers to understand the requirement for permission-based marketing – let alone implement permission-based programs? Here's the rest of my MSearchGroove column