Force Permission Marketing

We continue to be bombarded with marketing messages that are not relevant to us. We see irrelevant commercials in between a program we are watching or are sent mail from a company that we did not sign up to receive information from.

According to Seth Godin, permission marketing is, “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them”.

Are you tired of getting messages that are not relevant to you? Often, you cannot tell a company that you longer want to receive mail from them, but here is one way to communicate a response to a marketer that continues to bombard you with irrelevant content: leave the response envelope empty.

Next time you receive a direct mail piece with a business reply form, leave the response envelope empty, seal it and then put in mailbox to be delivered. According to the United States Postal Service, each time business reply mail is sent to a company, it can cost them anywhere between $0.25 to $1.89.

Imagine if we all started doing this, and businesses began receiving empty reply envelopes (that they have to pay for each time). This would send a huge message to companies to start treating people with respect in order to gain our attention.

Do you have any other clever ideas to force permission marketing?


4 responses to “Force Permission Marketing

  1. Can you tell me who did your layout? I’ve been looking for one kind of like yours. Thank you.

  2. C’mon, as an internet marketer you have to be smarter than that. Send an empty envelope… you think that will make a difference?

    As mailers we try to be as relevant as possible, but since a good response rate to a mail campaign is 1%, that means 99% of the mail is getting trashed.

    Taking the high road and “hiding” behind permission makes no sense. Even the best permission campaigns still are not relevant to well over half the list – and that is assuming a higly relevant campaign that gets a ridiculously high 50% (theoretical) response.

    Just because you get permission does it mean your messages are REALLY more meaningful? Doubtful. For more info on this subject check out this article,

    And watch my blog in early January addressing this very topic using Disney as a case study.

    Jim Gilbert

  3. Jim is right. Just because you have obtained someone’s email address does not mean that you are practicing permission marketing. In addition, you are not necessarily practicing permission marketing because you have received no complaints or because it’s in your privacy policy.

    Real permission marketing works in a few ways:
    – People complain if they stop receiving your messages
    – It works over time, bit by bit
    – It’s not always formal, but is obvious
    – Typically is a low cost to talk to people who want to hear from you

    Now, the internet typically makes it easier to adhere to permission marketing, but this can be done in other mediums as well, such as someone signing up for a subscription service.

    In the article Jim references above, his first key point for all direct marketers is “know me and be relevant”, which is a basic principle of permission marketing. As long as you are sending messages that are personal and relevant to people who want to hear from you, then you won’t have to worry about receiving empty reply envelopes in the mail 🙂

  4. Ben –

    I used the WordPress theme Blix by Sebastian Schmieg ( I found it by going to Appearance > Themes. It appears that the Blix them is no longer available for download, but there are currently 70 different themes you can choose from.

    I also have some friends that could help you develop a design if you are interested – just let me know.

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