Is context more important than permission?

Is context more important than permission?I get a lot of junk mail at home. Some of it, though unsolicited, is actually valuable. If an advertiser was smart enough to map my interests with their products or services, I’m more likely to take a quick look. I didn’t ask ESPN to send me that baseball-themed catalog, for example. But I still read through it and picked up a new t-shirt for the season ahead.

Email’s not really that different. A clogged inbox is annoying, sure. I didn’t give everybody a double opt-in. But if you’re dumb enough to spam me about stuff I have no demonstrated interest in, you probably don’t care about your relationship with me (or your reputation) anyway.

If you do care about both our relationship and your reputation, you learn enough about me to send me something targeted. Something meaningful. Something you know I’ll look twice at before it’s deleted. Heck, I might even open, click and engage.

Permission in marketing is still an important and coveted asset. It’s the foundation of long-term relationships. But what about context? What about exploring the potential of a relationship with a customer who doesn’t yet know you, but that you still treat with respect?

If I have a targeted email list, and a targeted and relevant offer, is that still spam? Or is it opportunity knocking?

I know my perspective, from the marketer’s side, is biased. But I’m a consumer, too. And I read some of my spam.

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Matt HeinzMatt Heinz is principal at Heinz Marketing, a sales & marketing consulting firm helping businesses increase customers and revenue. Contact Matt at or visit

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