Many years ago, I read a book by author and marketing guru Seth Godin, entitled Permission Marketing. The message behind the book was that as a business, we should be turning strangers into friends and friends into customers.

This book was published in 1999, around the same time that Google was getting into its stride. Some of the basic tenents of the book are that we should both safeguard and treasure the contact details and other information of followers that we may amass as part of our e-newsletter or other lists. We should never share that information with a third party.

In effect, someone has permitted us to send them information, and it is our duty to treasure that permission and provide value to it.

After reading Permission Marketing, I was a convert! However, over the years, that conviction has slipped. While we still very much guard our customers or subscribers information, we, like most businesses, have gone down the road of applying some disruptive marketing practices. An example of this is using Google Adwords. Those annoying “Sponsored” ads that appear at the top of the page when you do a Google Search.

Using Google Adwords is contrary to Permission Marketing, as when doing that search, you did not give your permission (though it may be in the terms of use) to see those pesky ads. In essence, you are being spammed with ads that may only vaguely be associated with what you were searching for. We all accept, without liking this, as being the price we pay for the service.

I had become uncomfortable with our use of the likes of Google Adwords and halted them several months ago. I decided to undertake some research to see how our guests found out about us.

Many Lovely People

Over the last few months, we have had many lovely people stay at the Lodge, dine with us, and undertake adventures by raft, horseback or e-bike.

Over half had either been before, had been told about us by friends or family, or heard about us by word of mouth in some other way. A further quarter was directly from our website, while people who booked with us through seeing a Google Ad were a tiny minority. Interesting stuff.

Seth Godin also wrote another book called “Tribes”.

In this book, he argues that a business such as River Valley needs to look after and nourish its “tribe”. The tribe is the people who relate to what we offer and how we offer it. And if we look after our tribe, both when they visit us and in our communications with them, they will tell others, and the tribe will grow. Of course, we will still get other people who come either directly or through some third party, but once on-site, we need to provide them with a great experience. If their experience resonates, they will go from strangers to friends and hopefully repeat customers.

Contrast this with disruptive marketing, where we are forever seeking new customers, by trying to disrupt their attention, often on some search platform or other.

I can easily see why a business would use Google Adwords or similar services. It is easy. Pay some money, and away you go!

Building a tribe, on the other hand, is so much harder. It requires patience, it requires trust, it requires attention to detail. It takes time and effort.

After having enjoyed the company of so many lovely people over the last few months, it is clear that the effort is worth it.

Thank you to everybody for visiting with us.


Brian Megaw