Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Are you being served?

Great video here from a talk that Seth Godin gave at Google. His central premise is that the only way to bring products of lasting value to the market is "permission marketing." He defines this as "the privilege of marketing/selling to people who do not want to be marketed/sold to." Essentially, make a product that is worth talking about, that spreads virally, and that contains network efforts (he calls these "permission assets"). A great case in point is "Gmail" which grew mostly by word-of-mouth because their users saw so much value in the product.

It strikes me that this notion has yet to reach India. I'm amazed at the levels of intrusiveness that Indians put up with from marketing campaigns. Spam SMS messages, hundreds of pop-up windows on websites: direct marketing hell. In India, you can still shove a product down people's throat by sheer force of outbound marketing. Why is this the case? I'm guessing it's because direct marketing is a relatively recent phenomenon; its still a novelty for people. Consumers tend to be more credulous and less cynical about what they hear from direct marketing campaigns. I still get forwards from friends in India who think the notorious Nigerian email scams are for real. Maybe a backlash will begin in a few years, as consumers get jaded and the volume of intrusiveness increases to painful levels. Until then, I'm not sure that product quality will win against a carpet-bombing direct marketing strategy.