Just imagine you go into the market because you have a headache and need a painkiller. On the shelves there are many boxes of painkillers. On the top shelf, you see the aspirin and below there are some other cheaper brands you have never heard about or used. Which one do you choose? Most probably, many people would prefer to buy aspirin. The same is true of most fast-food restaurants, many national hotel chains and many, if not most, shops on the high street.

Many common medicines like painkillers and fast-food restaurants are only one aspect of broader phenomenon: the role of brand names, names owned by particular companies that differentiate their products from those of other firms in the minds of consumers. In many cases, a company’s brand name is one of the most important assets it has. Clearly, Mc Donald’s is worth far more than the sum of the french fries and hamburgers the company produces.

As a matter of fact, companies often defend their brand names, suing anyone else who uses them without permission. You may talk about googling a subject for your learning, but unless the service in question comes from Google, you should describe it as searching on the internet.

As in the case of advertising, the social usefulness of brand names creates a dispute. Does the preference of consumers for known brands reflects irrationality even though other brands are cheaper with the same functionality? Or do brand names convey real information by serving a real purpose rather than creating unjustified market power? Most probably, the answer is some of both. Consumers often pay more for brand-name goods in the supermarket even though consumer experts claim that the cheaper store brands are equally good.

On the other hand, for many products the brand name does convey information. A tired and hungry traveller arriving in an unfamiliar area can be sure of what awaits in Holiday Inn and in Mc Donald’s. Although sometimes traveller may prefer to try another hotel or fast food restaurant that might be better or worse.

Furthermore, sometimes brand names offer some assurance that the seller has a deep interaction with its customers and a reputation to protect. If a traveller eats a bad meal at a restaurant in a tourist trap and vows never to eat there again, most probably the restaurant owner may not care, because it is a small chance that the traveller will be in the same place again in the near future. But if that traveller eats a bad meal at Mc Donald’s and vows never to eat at a Mc Donald’s again, that matters to the company. So this gives Mc Donald’s an incentive to provide consistent quality while providing travellers for some assurance that the quality control are in place.

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Have you ever thought why wheat farmers don’t advertise their products on TV as the mobile phone network operators such as Vodafone and Orange or car dealers do? The fact is that because advertising is useful only in industries in which companies have at least some market power (as it is in monopoly, oligopoly and monopolistic competititon in economic terms). Market power can be defined as the ability of a producer to raise prices.

Certainly, the main aim of advertising is to get people to buy more of a seller’s product at the going price. So only a company that has some market power, and therefore can charge a price that is above marginal cost, can gain from advertising. After this logic, it is not hard to see why many companies spend so much money on it. However, the main question which comes to the mind is why advertising works even though the money spent on advertising is often regarded as a waste of resources by the society. Although many advertising creates a puzzle in the minds, much of it is straightforward by informing potential buyers clearly about what sellers are offering. So companies believe that money spent on such promotions increase their sales and they would be in a bad situation if they stopped advertising when their competitors continue to do it.

But what information is given when an actress or sportsman acclaims the virtues of a car or if David Beckham wears H&M brand of boxers? Surely, nobody believes that the actress or sportsman is an expert on car or David Beckham really buys his boxers from H&M. Why are consumers still influenced by ads that do not accord with the reality and not provide any information about the product? One answer is that consumers are not as rational as economists suppose. Their judgements, or even tastes, can be influenced by many irrelevant things such as which celebrity has been hired by the company to endorse its product.

On the other hand, another answer shows that consumer response to advertising is not entirely irrational since ads can serve as indirect signals about the product and company. For example, if you need furniture removals and turn to the Yellow Pages including a lot of small listings and several large display ads, you most probably rationally call one of the firms with a big display ad. Because the big ad probably connotes that it’s a successful company — otherwise, it wouldn’t spend so much money for the larger ad.

Let’s apply the same principle to the ads with celebrities. You don’t really believe that David Beckham prefers H&M boxers to all other more expensive brands; however the fact that the company is willing and able to pay David Beckham tells you that it is a major company and most likely to stand behind its product. According to this reasoning, an expensive advertisement is a venue for the company to put the quality of its products in the eyes of consumers.

After all, it won’t be truism to say that ads only work by manipulating weak-minded consumers especially if we consider the huge amount of spending on advertising. Seemingly, it is an economically productive activity for many companies.

“Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers.” 

Today’s fast-moving world with ever-improving technology has changed marketing dynamics completely and reversed almost all values generally accepted up till today. As the marketplace for advertising gets more and more cluttered, it becomes increasingly difficult for marketers to attract the attention of consumers that becomes an important asset to be valued. From now on, consumers call the shots as they have a great power in their hands: not paying attention.

Philip Kotler, world-renowned marketing guru, in his book “Marketing Moves” (2002) states that the power has shifted from companies to consumers. He says that today the consumer is king and he/she has the power of deciding whether he/she will give permission to receive company information and advertising. Now, the challenge that marketers is facing is to persuade consumers to learn more about a company and its products. So, a new form of marketing based on permission is not only changing the landscape but also affecting the other forms of traditional marketing. Within this respect, Seth Godin declares that we are entering an era that’s going to change the way almost everything is marketed to almost everybody.

The “Permission Marketing” concept stated by Kotler was coined and popularized by internet marketing pioneer Seth Godin in 1999. By recognizing the new power of the consumers to ignore marketing, Godin defines Permission Marketing as the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. He states that treating consumers with respect is the best way to earn their attention. Since permission marketing talks only to volunteers, it guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing message that arrives in an expected, appreciated way. And over time, marketers create a mutually beneficial learning relationship. As Godin puts into the words, “It serves both customers and marketers in a symbiotic exchange.”

However, there is a fine line between real permission and presumed or legalistis permission. Although permission does not have to be formal, it has to be obvious. Just because a company somehow get your email and you don’t complain does not imply it has permission. Just because it’s in the fine print of the company’s privacy policy doesn’t mean it’s permission either. Real permission works like this: if the company stop showing up, consumers complain and ask where it went (Godin, 1999).

Permission Marketing is mostly used by online marketers, email marketers and search marketers, as well as certain direct marketers. The prospective consumer gives either explicit permission to receive a promotional message (like an email or catalog request) or implicit permission (like querying a search engine). For example, Amazon has overt permission to track which books you buy and which books you browse. They build a permission asset by explicitly getting permission to send you promotional e-mail messages. Moreover, they talk to their customers about specific genres of books by creating special interest communities. This is not only where the profit lies but also where Amazon is best able to leverage their permission asset (Godin, 1999).

The core ideas behind Permission Marketing:

Over the last fourty years, advertisers have dramatically increased their ad spending by benefitting from a glut of ways brought by technology and the marketplace. As new forms of media develop and clutter becomes more intense, they have also increased the noise level of their ads by interrupting the day of consumers and making them much more exposed to these ads. How many marketing messages consumers encounter in a day has become countless from huge screens at the airport to advertisements in urinals to brand names or logos on the daily products. There is no wonder that consumers feel like the fast-moving world around them is getting blurry.

One of the key drivers of Permission Marketing is the scarcity of attention. Consumers physically have a finite amount of attention. The percentage of marketing messages consumers get decreases as the amount of noise increases. So they cannot pay attention to everything that marketers expect them to see, watch and remember. Pay attention is a key phrase here, because Permission Marketers are aware of the fact that consumers pay attention only if they are actually interested in the product. And it is too difficult to get their attention back if they change their mind (Godin, 2008). So Permission Marketers use this scarce resource efficiently by sending offers only to consumers who are interested in the product.

Permission Marketing turns clutter into an advantage by allowing marketers to calmly and succinctly give their message without fear of being interrupted by competitors. Permission Marketers need to get some data from the prospects (prospective customers) in order to make the marketing messages more relevant and personal. So they ask for some data from the prospects by making it clear what they will do with the data they collect and why it is beneficial for the prospects to share this data with them. In this personalized, anticipated, frequent and relevant communication marketers speak to potential consumers as friends, not strangers. They try to turn strangers into friends who choose to “opt-in” to a series of communication.

Godin says that permission is like dating. Permission Marketers don’t start asking for sale at first impression. Because they know that the first date is an opportunity to sell the consumer on a second date. So they earn the right, over time, bit by bit. Instead of cheap impressions, they care about deep relationships. As the potential consumers voluntarily pay attention, it becomes much easier to teach them about a product. Instead of trying to capture the attention of the prospect by filling each message with entertainment and eye-catching design, Permission Marketers talk about product benefits by focusing on the ways this product will help that prospect and offer a curriculum over time. As a result, it creates more impact than a random message displayed in a random place at a random moment. For example, if a trusted friend recommend a restaurant to you, you are likely to try it while ignoring a recommendation from an unsolicited mail (Godin, 1999).

Today, the concept of Permission Marketing is redefined by technologies like Facebook Connect and OAuth. According to a recent survey data, the new generation comfortable using social media like Facebook and other mobile apps are quite eagerly sharing personal information with brands and companies in exchange for value provided. Especially, Seth Godin’s favorite phrase “turning strangers into friends and friends into customers” seems compatible with today’s “Liking” and “Following”. These social platforms allow brands to establish an active permission-based relationship with their consumers and users on their own websites. Being upfront with people during the registration process about how their data will be kept and used, and how it will provide mutual benefit; these websites show their transparency (Yovanno, 2011).
Interruption Marketing vs. Permission Marketing 

For decades, marketers almost exclusively have relied on “Interruption Marketing” which is the traditional approach to getting consumer attention. It is often positioned on the opposite side of Permission Marketing. Unlike Permission Marketers that spend as little time and money on talking to strangers as they can, Interruption Marketers spend all of their time on interrupting to capture attention and increase popularity. The word “interruption” reflects the fact that the key to each and every ad is to interrupt what the consumers are doing in order to get them to think about something else. For example, a 30-second spot interrupts a film you watch, a telemarketing call interrupts your dinner.

“The interruption model is extremely effective when there’s not an overflow of interruptions,” Godin says. However, today there is too much going on in our lives to pay attention to the interruptions. Interruption Marketing not only interrupts what we are doing at any given moment but also waste our time. So we naturally ignore them (Taylor, 2007). As a result, mass-market advertising that fights for consumers’ attention by interrupting them does not work as well as it used to and most of the time it fails to give the relevant message. Despite the fact that the effectiveness of Interruption Marketing is diminishing in today’s clutter, the marketers ironically deal with this problem by interrupting us more.

Unlike Interruption Marketing, Permission Marketing is described as marketing without interruptions; but getting people’s attention in the first place still costs lots of money and time (Taylor, 2007). Permission Marketer must offer the prospective consumer an incentive for volunteering. This incentive must be not only interesting enough to make the prospective consumer go out on a first date but also overt, obvious and clearly delivered. Since the incentive offered by the marketer wears out over time, Permission Marketer needs to reinforce the incentive in order to maintain the attention. This is a two-way dialogue between the marketer and the consumer, so the marketer must adjust the incentives and fine tune them for each consumer. Along with reinforcing the incentive, the marketer also aims to increase the level of permission. By gathering more data about the consumer’s personal life, hobbies and interests the marketer uses the permission to change consumer behavior over time. That is how the marketer leverages the permission into a profitable situation (Godin, 1999).

Seth Godin uses an analogy of getting married to contrast the
Interruption Marketer with the Permission Marketer. The Interruption Marketer walks into the singles bar and proposes marriage to the nearest person. If turned down, the marketer repeats this process on every person in the bar. After coming up empty-handed at the end, the Interruption Marketer tries again at a different single bar. On the other hand, the Permission Marketer goes on a date before proposing marriage, which is more rational and successful way of getting married. If it goes well, the two of them go on another date. And consecutive dates. After both sides communicate with each other about their needs and desires, finally the Permission Marketer proposes marriage.In Permission Marketing the cost of interrupting the consumer spread out, over not one message but dozens of messages. This creates significant competitive advantages and profit. While Interruption Marketers are getting mediocre results by interrupting strangers, Permission Marketers are turning strangers into friends and friends into loyal consumers (Godin, 1999).One of the advantages is that Permission Marketing provides meaningful data about the return on investment (ROI). By measuring the depth of permission a company has with each consumer, it can begin to track ROI in Permission Marketing. It can also begin to recognize the value of permission asset by focusing on how deep its permission is with its existing consumers (Godin, 1999).

Permission Marketing takes advantage of new technology better than other forms of marketing. Compared to Interruption Marketing that has rushed in internet by spending billion of dollars to apply their interruption techniques, Permission Marketing effectively uses the internet. The low cost of frequent interaction makes Permission Marketing a powerful trend in marketing (Godin, 1999).

Permission Marketing is a measurable process unlike Interruption Marketing. Since it evolves over time, it becomes an increasingly valuable asset in the long-term. If a company commits to Permission Marketing campaign more, they work better over time by taking advantage of leveragable processes in today’s cluttered market. However, Permission Marketing requires patience before it has success. It is not as easy as running an ad a few more times or creating a website that consumer can find by searching. Because Permission Marketing campaigns grow over-time. While a bad Interruption Marketing campaign gets some results righ away, a Permission Marketing campaign requires infrastructure and a belief in the durability of permission concept (Godin, 1999).

After all, the most obvious conclusion is that today consumers have the power of whether granting a company permission to communicate or not. So it is much more difficult for marketers to get the consumers to raise their hands in the face of cluttered marketplace. However, Permission Marketing seems to be one of the most relevant communication channels that create consumer loyalty.

This heading seems to be a little bit tricky as if it gives a hint to reach a wonderland with only 40 cents in your pocket. Most probably, this amount of money is nothing more than a piece of gum or an apple for you. However, have you ever thought that it costs more than that but a life, in another words, one day more in this land of life for anyone? If you have never thought about it, maybe it’s time to read this post rather than racking your brains.

Most of the time in this blog, I have shared my findings and ideas related to brand awareness but this time I am writing to raise HIV awareness. I am aware of the fact that World AIDS Day held on 1 December each year already passed away. Since it is an issue that should be not only raised one day but always on the agenda, we have just started to implement a project in order to raise HIV awareness and create support for people living with HIV.

Today, unfortunately 34 million people are living with HIV worldwide and 390,000 new HIV infections are among children. Especially, within Sub-Saharan Africa 15-28% of the population are living with HIV. For all these people, 40 cents = 2 lifesaving pills… With the help of 2 antiretroviral (ARV) pills that only cost around 40 cents a day, a person with HIV can transform his/her life in as few as 40 days. Doctors call it “The Lazarus Effect”.

In 2010, HIV Awareness Organization (RED) launched The Lazarus Effect Campaign to raise awareness of the antiretroviral medicine for those living with HIV in Africa. The campaign included television, print and online advertising. In a video for the campaign the cost of the pills was compared to trivial items that were obtained for the same 40 cents.

The campaign was directed by photographer Brigitte Lacombe and featured a host of high profile celebrities including Bono, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts, Claire Danes, Alek Wek, Iman, John Turturro, Toni Collette, Hugh Jackman, Orlando Bloom, Lucy Liu, Gabourey Sidibe, Kerry Washington, Bryan Cranston, LeAnn Rimes, Jane Lynch, Michelle Rodriguez, Gwen Stefani, Hayden Christensen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Don Cheadle, Ludacris, Common, Benicio Del Toro, Dakota Fanning, Christy Turlington, and the Jonas Brothers.

Here’s the video campaign debuted in 2010…and it’s a good one. It really puts things into perspective and makes you think.

“The Lazarus Effect” references the biblical story of Lazarus who was resurrected four days after his death by Jesus. The term is used to describe the effect of antiretroviral medicine on those living with HIV as the pills, which cost 40 cents a day, allow a person dying from aids to regain their strength within 40 days.

The Lazarus Effect is demonstrated in the photos below—a baby before the treatment (L) and 90 days after beginning the antiretroviral medicine to treat her HIV (R).

After all, with the right interventions at the right time, resilience and hope can be developed. So let’s start to tell this story so that people see what 40 cents buy and what life costs…

Do you want to sell your property on Facebook? With new Facebook app, this is doddle!

Social media has become an irreplaceable part of our lives. Most probably, there is no a single day passing away without spending at least a few minutes in Facebook. So have you ever thought about selling your home using Facebook?

Facebook, which is widely used for advertisers as an advertising platform, never slows down its innovations. A new app which allows users to buy, sell and rent out property on Facebook was launched just a few days ago. Innovation experts regard this app as a move in the right direction. The app launched by Sohail Rashid, a Yorkshire based entrepreneur – who has put together an experienced team that consists of Facebook developers, Google owned beatthatquote.com and Guardian Media Group Property Services – has over 500,000 properties for sale and rent across the UK.

Property Place, which claims to be the first of its kind in the world, allows property owners to meet prospective buyers and tenants without the need for an estate agent. At a charge of £75 to sell a property and £35 to let out their home, users can arrange viewings through Facebook’s private messaging service. It is time-saving because users can upload details of their property in minutes and easily manage the whole process in one place.

The entrepreneur Rashid said: “Property Place makes it easier for consumers to share the decision making process with trusted friends and family on one platform. By offering consumers more transparency and control Property Place improves the process for both buying and renting”. He added that “Social networking allows improved consumer engagement and is the future for all high street services. Our business model doesn’t rely on estate agency subscription fees and will always remain focused on providing consumers with more control during their house move.”

We all know that sex is everywhere; not only in romantic movies but also sometimes in a big billboard that includes an advertisement of your favourite perfume brand, sometimes on the wall next to the moving staircase in the tube station and so on. Surely, sex sells but have you ever asked the question of why?

Beautiful women and charismatic men, in sexy clothes or most of the times naked giving a smell of sex, seems a very useful tool to advertisers and brand managers. Because according to a research, looking at them makes you more stupid. The findings come from tests on people who were hooked up to monitors to record their brainwaves while they were looking at some adverts.

Especially, ads with pictures of attractive models significantly lower levels of activity in the areas of the brain which are involved in making decisions. Therefore, they make people buy without rationally thinking it through. According to study author Dr Ian Cook, a scientist at the University of California; some advertisers wish to seduce, rather than persuade, to buy these specific brands.

“These results suggest ads employing non-rational influence images could lead to less behavioural inhibition, which could translate to less restraint when it comes to buying products.” said Dr Cook.

Although there are still many adverts which use “logical persuasion” technique, relying on facts such as nutritional statistics or how many miles a car does to the litre; the advertisements which use non-rational influence with sexy models shouldn’t be underestimated. They are almost everywhere and make even ‘routine’ products seem more attractive.

Surely eBay is not only one of the world’s best known websites but also an internet auction giant that is increasingly growing. Now the auction site is planning to move out of cyberspace into London and take over the high street by launching its first real-life shop.

The eBay Christmas boutique will be an experiment with only a five-day trial period from the 1st December until the 5th. It will have on display 200 of the auction site’s most popular items and sell a range of products at up to 70 per cent less. Moreover, shoppers will be able to buy the products online with their smartphones by scanning corresponding Quick Response (QR) codes in the shop.

The real-world eBay shop will open on Dean Street, just off Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. Popular items such as an inflatable, pilotable Dalek and a party dress from House of Fraser will be on display in this shop.

It seems more than a good idea. Definitely, it is a big marketing ploy that will make many curious customers go out of the house to rush into the shop and use the internet in the shop.