This post is part rant.  Bear with me, there’s a lesson here for all of us.

Permission Marketing is where a person gives you permission to market your products and business to them, generally via email.  Do we all see the connection here?  Permission Marketing = customer giving permission.

If you don’t have permission, then your email marketing is considered Spam and is illegal.  As a general rule, I’m assuming that none of us intend to be spammers, and none of us want to deal with the fallout from being considered a spammer, or even just an annoyance.

Let’s look at a real-life example on how not to do Permission Marketing.

In mid 2007 I attended an Expo as a stall holder.  During the day I gave out a stack of business cards, actually I had them sitting on the table for people to pick up.  Fast forward to early Feb 2009.  I received the following email (names and business changed to protect the guilty, email paraphrased for brevity):

“Hi Melinda,

My name is ________ and we met at the Expo last year.  My husband and I are expanding our business and wondered if you would be interested in joining us.

Our business is xyz and we sell  “abc products” within Australia and  internationally.

If you would be interested in joining us, please email me and we’ll set up a time to connect.”


I have no problem with the original email – it’s nice, it tells me who she is, where we met and why she’s contacting me.

Now, I’m not interested.  It’s a network marketing business, and the products aren’t of interest to me.  So I deleted her email without contacting her.

Notice her comment: “If you would be interested in joining us, please email me” I didn’t contact her.  Not once.  However in the two weeks after the original email, I received at least FOUR emails inviting me to a launch of their new products, asking again if I want to join and promoting their products and their business.

There’s a few things wrong here that possibly aren’t too obvious if you weren’t involved.  Firstly, her facts are wrong – it wasn’t last year that we met.  However, I’ll be generous and overlook that as we all get years mixed up occasionally.

She very obviously hadn’t looked at the website listed on the business card, as that business had been closed for several months prior to her email.

If she had bothered to check the website, and let’s imagine for a moment that it still existed, she would have noticed that I no longer live in the same state, and haven’t for well over a year.  Therefore there is no point inviting me to a launch that would require me to drive twelve hours each way, especially when I had indicated that I had no interest in joining her business.

Unfortunately this is not the only time I have seen this, this is only one example.

The moral of the story is this: If a person hasn’t specifically stated that they would like to hear more about your products and services – you don’t have permission to market to them.

If you have asked the person if they want to be marketed to and they either said no or didn’t reply – you don’t have permission to market to them.

If you haven’t been in touch with someone for a while and want to ask them if you can market to them – check your facts first.  Getting your facts wrong tells the person that you don’t care enough to do your homework and that means – you don’t have permission to market to them.

Just because you have a person’s business card in your hot little hand, even if they handed it to you personally at a networking event – you don’t have permission to market to them.

The only time you have permission to market to someone is if they have requested to receive your email newsletters, preferably via a double-opt-in system such as Aweber.  Or, if you have asked for email addresses and specifically told them that they will be added to your newsletter list. (Note, they still need to confirm the opt-in!)  Never assume that because someone has given you their email address that you have permission to market to them.

Always, always, always ask.  And then confirm again.  If you don’t have specific permission to market to someone – don’t do it.  Your business will get a bad name, your emails will be eaten by spam filters and you will end up being blacklisted.  It’s not worth the hassle.