I have just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Spoiler alert: this is not a book review. I thought I would share something profound about permission marketing that I learned while reading it.
Gilbert begins her book by talking about what it takes to live a creative life–and what a creative life is. She discusses the activities and habits of being creative, showing that living a creative life is, indeed, not completely magical, but also takes hard work. It's something I think most creative people know (or anyone who has ever suffered from writer's block). It's not as if Hemingway or Faulkner wrote their masterpieces without having to edit. In fact, I believe it was Faulkner who described the writing and editing process as "killing your darlings." But nevermind all that. That's not what I learned.
The chapter entitled "Permission" was probably the most profound for me as a creative and as a marketer. When we think about "permission" in marketing, we're often wondering how we can get the customers' permission to operate in a certain sphere. For example, if you're a t-shirt company, do you have any business infiltrating music? Extreme sports?
This has come up in my tenure as a social marketer many, many times. Where do the customers look for us and where do they expect us to be? Furthermore, is there a place we can go and have them be put off by us? My answer has generally always been: there is always a way in. If it's not natural, of course, you have to be a little more… well, creative. My personality has always lent itself to inserting myself and my business wherever I wanted, throwing permissions and caution to the wind. And this book helped me discover why.
Gilbert describes it as the "arrogance of belonging." She explains that some creatives are naturally born with a feeling that they belong somewhere–no matter where–and they're willing to go to that place and fight for the spotlight. Though "arrogance" might make it seem like an issue of ego, Gilbert argues that it's not. She writes that not only should all creatives strive to achieve this arrogance of belonging, but that it's imperative to living a creative life–a life without many limits, as it were.
So I urge you to think about stretching your notions about where your brand belongs and try to adopt an arrogance of belonging when creating your next project. Screw permission. What would you do and where would you go if you were never told you couldn't be there?