As an engineer who study marketing (or attempt to), I wanna subscribe to the belief that we should strive to gain permission rather than actively interrupting people for attention.
At the same time, as a bootstrapper I also has no money for AdWords (or any channel of that kind). Sure, we hear people say "build a product so great that it will spread itself." (I'm also aware of Dharmesh's Inbound Marketing ).
I've read about equally enlightened entrepreneurs who started their campaign by blasting emails, essentially interrupting their way to create awareness. Press releases are still being practiced. And I'm sure you've also seen Facebook friends who blatantly promote their stuffs in your feed.
I sometimes suspect there's a taboo in the scene that everyone is doing spam in one way or another but no one admits that after they've gotten the success. (I hope I'm wrong)
So my question is this: is interruption totally evil?
You bring up a good point. It's kind of a dichotomy really. On the one hand, how do you get the word out about what you do and on the other, how do you not be annoying.
As with most things, I think you need a balance. Inbound Marketing is a great long term strategy since you really can't scale the interruption stuff at all. You also need some interruption just so you get some traction and a least put the company/product out there.
I think it all comes down to adding value to your intended customers. If you truly care about solving someones pain and suffering, then they will not be as annoyed if you interrupt them. It all comes done to your Unique Value Proposition and how well that aligns with your target customers.
So, take the helpful approach. Target your customers and craft your message for their particular pain and suffering. Also, give them something they can use for free. That way, it does not seem like a hard sell. Again, it's more like a helpful friend that reminds you of important things that you care about.
I understand where you're coming from, but interrupt-driving advertising is increasingly a losing game, not in your favor. As for email blasts and other spam, let alone telemarketing, as an initial way to contact prospective customers, there's a special circle of hell for them.
Now, If I decide I want more information about a product or service and I request it, email, calls etc or just good customer service. But if the company won't respect my right to choose who I do business with, I have no interest in doing helping them make what I think is a worse world.
I'd recommend picking up a copy of Seth Godin's Linchpin - a big part of what he has to say deals with this question of getting attention by giving what you have. ( or listen to the Startup Success Podcast (http://startuppodcast.wordpress.com/) interview last week.
It's a radical notion to me too - but this is the man who practically invented permission marketing and time and time again his view of the world has worked.
I think that how to use both inbound marketing and interruption marketing depends on the industry and the people in the market. In as much as most businesses and customers use the internet and computers there are still people who are not really comfortable with these technologies and are overwhelmed by it all. They prefer phone calls and the personal touch.
How I handle interruption phone calls is if they are not interested in seeing me now I ask if it ok to check with them in the future and if yes when is best to call back. But the initial call is an "interuption".
At the same time, I do have younger customers who are very much comfortable with the web and I believe inbound marketing techniques are the way to reach them.