Learn how to develop high margin, direct to consumer, digital channel and get first 10,000 consumers for free with permission marketing and a scientific process.
“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.”
Nobody prefers to be sold to without having established a relationship of trust first. Permission marketing is giving the right to opt out of a deal much before a transaction of goods/services and money is involved. It gives the consumer ample time and control over experiencing and evaluating your relevance, trustworthiness and value to their lives before they commit to a sale. It helps you be patient and focus on one step at a time in the process rather than just thinking of sale.
Science and Maths
Brand Story coupled with Permission marketing is a scientific formula for growing business especially digital without a significant investment. Just like Science, it takes some observation and theorising to uncover and test the formula for a particular business, but, once done, rewards are disproportionate. Create a powerful story, share it with the right audience, bring the highly motivated fans over to your site, request subscription in exchange for something they value, and then market for free to them with their permission. That’s the science of it
1. Getting Started: Brand Story and Storytelling
You need both strategy and tactics.
Brand Story is the reason the site visitors( the right type) will subscribe and buy. Storytelling, a mix of form and function, is a tactical ploy to gain attention and arouse enough curiosity so they visit your website. Create content that either entertains, is unexpected, is aspirational, is a revelation about the world or themselves etc. Guest post on influencer blogs, request influential bloggers to share your story, leverage free PR, run contests on social media and first target 1000 real visitors to your site and not bots!
Takeaway: Don’t rush into marketing or content creation without a powerful brand story first, and post that work on presenting content creatively with high potential shareability. TEST shareability before you post it.
2. Invite visitors to your digital address: E-commerce/Website
Own the digital manifestation of your story. Build for your Target Consumer.
The site should live and breathe your story. It should be worth talking about! For example, No BS Beauty site experience lives up to their loud, in your face, brand story. Your site design, tone of voice, price, product packaging, newsletter sign up offering should all be aligned with your story.
Takeaway: The most underrated owned asset of the brand is the e-commerce site. It takes 1/10th to 1/20th the cost of yearly marketing budget to create a decent e-commerce site, which brings your story to life.
3. Permission to Subscribe Visitors
Use 3 Page digital booklets, guides and tools. Avoid discounts and freebies!
It would cost you $100 to design a 3-page digital booklet on information valued by your target segment, available for download once the visitor provides her email id on your site. You could be slightly tactical while not deviating from the core brand promise. Use a squeeze page to increase the % of subscribers.
You could achieve between 10%-30% conversion rates with a squeeze page. With 20% subscriptions out of 1000 visitors, you now have 200 subscribers. Repeat this exercise a few times and you would have 1000 subscribers in no time.
Also, promise and deliver more books, news and tools via newsletter.
Takeaway: You should focus on building a big list of right subscribers and make it one of the top 3 objectives of all marketing.
4. Understand the Subscriber Database
What to do with a database of 1,000 emails?
- Develop consumer intimacy. How? Further segment subscribers on the basis of interests( via content engagement) and shopper behavior.
- Track their behavior both post content delivery and without. For example, ignored the newsletter, clicked and browsed but did not buy, added to cart but aborted, bought but not significant, bought and again bought with large cart size.
- Get better at prompting activation via newsletter.
Takeaway: Don’t bombard your subscribers, classify them according to the stage in consumer journey and pain points/interests, and then send relevant messages.
5. Convert 1,000 Subscribers into 200 Buyers first
Based on the shopper behavior, customize your communication and call to action
Focus on moving the subscriber from one stage in the consumer journey to the next. Move the ones who did not click on the email newsletter to visitors on site, mere visitors into heavy browsers, heavy browsers into adding to their cart and those who bought into buying more, and those who bought repeatedly into active brand champions.
Target 100-200 buyers first from a base of 1,000 subscribers. Refer the email marketing tactics to increase number of subscribers and increase conversion to sales.
Takeaway: To convert subscribers into buyers, use social proof in the emails, segment and customize content by shopping behavior, for example: Improve subject lines for those who don’t open their emails. Personalize emails and talk about product benefits solving problems and not features for those who open but don’t click and visit the site. Give calls to action to those who browse but don’t purchase.
6. First 100 Hardcore Fans: De-average Consumer Satisfaction
Out of the buyers, identify hardcore, loyal fans: Vocal, frequent buyer and/or biggest shopping cart sizes.
Out of the hardcore loyal fans, pick the most vocal, those who post comments, reviews after purchasing, purchase frequently and have big order sizes, and help them spread the word with carefully crafted referral programs to enrich the lives of their friends.
Use their testimonials, as a social proof, with purchase history in their referral messages to their friends and contacts.
Message and respect those who buy but are not vocal yet and be patient with them. If you cannot absolutely delight them and gain a very significant share of their wallet, what makes you think you could do with the newer conquests? These are the ones who will help you get better at your Story if you listen to them, keep offering them valuable messaging based on their shopping behavior, they will eventually move into the loyal fan stage and you repeat the above process with the new batch.
Takeaway: Don’t measure consumer satisfaction as an aggregate but divide into different levels, understand the reason for staying in a particular stage and how to move consumers from one level to the another:
Very dissatisfied, Somewhat dissatisfied, Satisfied, Highly Satisfied and Very satisfied.
The day you get first 100 very satisfied, hardcore, loyal and vocal fans, you are set! Once a consumer has bought your products, go to any length, without overwhelming, to ensure they move into the next stage of loyalty/satisfaction. Proactively ask for satisfaction level and advice, and then show that you are acting on it, give rewards, offer valuable content and be eternally thankful. If you don’t move her into the next stage of satisfaction, chances are you will lose her or you will have to spend much more, than to retain a dissatisfied consumer, to gain a new consumer.
7. Delight the first 100 Hardcore Fans
Leverage to get 1000s of new subscribers.
Don’t innovate in isolation when you have thousands of loyal fans right close to you. Take advice on product improvement, innovation, referral programs etc., get more reviews, feature them in your marketing and above all keep giving them a reason to talk about you to their friends on social media by personalizing their loyalty rewards.
Takeaway: Loyalty has to offer, above and beyond rewards, to both the brand and the fan. The brand can leverage consumer’s loyalty via referrals programs to sign up more subscribers, get more reviews, getting more buyers, improving products further etc. The loyal fans can earn customized and personalized rewards in exchange.
The 7-step process can be looked upon as a gradual way to earn the trust of a potential consumer at every step in the process and then pulling her into the next stage with due permission.
The process offers seven different ways to increase the number of loyal fans and ultimately have an army of loyal fans.
Incorporate loyal fans into your storytelling on owned media and outside as a social proof of the brand.
Continue and get better at the 7-step process, leverage the growing number of hardcore fans for referrals and social proof to increase number of subscribers and subsequently buyers, and with a bit of patience and adjustments, you would reach 10,000 buyers without spending a dime on marketing!
Let me know if you are convinced or not in the comments section!
Also, to know how to apply this to your brand for free, Please click on
FREE STORY CONSULT tab on top right of this page
Rohit Banota, founder of StorySaves, is a Queen’s MBA with over 15 years of experience in Consumer Packaged Goods with companies like P&G and AB InBev( SAB Miller) as well as in creating, launching and growing multiple Canadian CPG brands especially in health and beauty.
Rohit has dedicated last few years helping North American CPG brands, without the resources and advertising budges of Tier 1 companies, by creating their brand strategies and stories, and then spreading those stories resulting in sustainable and profitable growth.