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Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers

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The man Business Week calls "the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age" explains "Permission Marketing"—the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it.

Whether it is the TV commercial that breaks into our favorite program, or the telemarketing phone call that disrupts a family dinner, traditional advertising is based on the hope of snatching our attention away from whatever we are doing. Seth Godin calls this Interruption Marketing, and, as companies are discovering, it no longer works.

Instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity—time—Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily. Now this Internet pioneer introduces a fundamentally different way of thinking about advertising products and services. By reaching out only to those individuals who have signaled an interest in learning more about a product, Permission Marketing enables companies to develop long-term relationships with customers, create trust, build brand awareness -- and greatly improve the chances of making a sale.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 30, 2014

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About the author

Seth Godin

203 books5,726 followers
Seth Godin is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change.

Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world, and he is also a renowned speaker. He was recently chosen as one of 21 Speakers for the Next Century by Successful Meetings and is consistently rated among the very best speakers by the audiences he addresses.

Seth was founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, the industry's leading interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998.

He holds an MBA from Stanford, and was called "the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age" by Business Week.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 388 reviews
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews6,923 followers
May 27, 2016
Permission Marketing Vs. Interruption Marketing

Most marketers practice Interruption Marketing. The difference is simple. An Interruption Marketer is a hunter. A Permission Marketer is a farmer.

Hunting prospects involves loading a gun with bullets and shooting until you hit something. You can take a day or a week or a month off from this endeavor and it won’t take you long to get back into successfully bagging a few.

Farming prospects involves hoeing, planting, watering, and harvesting. It’s infinitely more predictable, but it takes regular effort and focus. If you take a month off, you might lose your entire crop.

On the other hand, farming scales. Once you get good at it, you can plant ever more seeds and harvest ever more crops.

Interruption Marketing soon becomes spam, Permission Marketing can become long-term relationships with customers.

The book was probably very influential, most of the principles seems to have been applied, except by some categories of producers. Unfortunately, even Godin couldn't bring down the amount of spam in the universe.
Profile Image for Jamie Belanger.
Author 14 books12 followers
February 7, 2012
When I see an interesting book on business or marketing at my local library, the first thing I check after reading the jacket is the publication date. Seeing that this book was published in 1999 didn't give me much confidence in it. In computer terms, 1999 is practically the Stone Age. Granted, I remember the Internet back then, since I started using networked computer systems in the late 80s and started surfing the web in 1995. So in some ways, this book was a little bit of nostalgia.

Permission Marketing contains many mentions and discussions of websites that either no longer exist or have become so unpopular in today's Internet that they may as well be extinct (like AOL, Lycos, Altavista, and Netscape). But one thread I noticed throughout this book is that even though a lot of the specific company mentions are out of date, the underlying analysis of advertising and marketing is accurate. Some of the author's predictions about the progress of the Internet came true. The state of advertising in our world has gotten even more cluttered than it was in the late 90s. Breaking through that clutter is the goal of anyone running a small business. When everyone is being bombarded with thousands of advertisements every day, how do you get your company noticed? Unfortunately, this book does not answer that question. At one point, the author hints that trying to advertise and pull attention away from the big companies is a waste of time, money, and effort. How could my two-man company possibly compete for attention against multimillion dollar advertising budgets? The answer: it can't. And yet, the only suggestion the book offers to get noticed is to do just that -- to use the so-called Interruption Marketing that is causing all of the advertising clutter in the first place. This makes some portions of the book feel like I'm being taught by the underpants gnomes on South Park (Step 1: Advertise. Step 2: ..? Step 3: Profit!).

The book does, however, provide a very interesting recipe for what to do after you've gotten someone's attention. Given the age of this book, I was impressed at how much relevant and useful information I was able to extract from it. I think the best part of this book is that the case studies cover so many different types of businesses that anyone who is trying to build a business should be able to learn how to apply the lessons within. The underlying principles of Permission Marketing are something every business should be familiar with, and this book does a good job of teaching the concept.
Profile Image for J. Aleksandr Wootton.
Author 5 books126 followers
November 30, 2020
Reading this twenty years after publication, it's not surprising that elements of the "Permission Marketing" techniques that Godin and others were pioneering in the late 90s and early 00s have become common. What's surprising is how incompletely marketers have adopted the model.

"Interruption Marketing" - the sort pioneered in the "Mad Men" advertising era, in which a billboard or short video or audio clip interrupts what you were doing and attempts to, in a matter of seconds, present you with something engaging, memorable, and relevant - doesn't work in an oversaturated world. Twenty years ago, the data showed its time had come. And the world has become exponentially more saturated in the time since.

In contrast, as early as twenty years ago, the data also showed the effectiveness of true "Permission Marketing" - the sort in which the target audience is offered the opportunity to "opt in" to a series of pithy communications that educates them about a relevant product or service and creates a sense of connection to the person or company offering the product/service.

And yet, very few marketers are truly doing it. Tech companies have co-opted the idea of "permission" to harvest data about users of their free products and services (e.g., Google, Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads...), but instead of leveraging that data to connect and escalate permission on a 1-to-1 basis, they use it to tailor and serve more interruption-style advertising campaigns.

Having lived in a reasonably engaged manner through the past two decades, I don't think what happened is that most companies tried Permission Marketing as Godin and others pioneered it, and then moved on to something objectively better. I think they decided that interrupting people is easier and more fun for them - for all the reasons Godin explains in his book, plus a few others provided by tech that got mainstreamed after the book was published. I'm pretty certain that most companies haven't given Permission Marketing a real shake.

And, so far, it's worked. At least for enriching and empowering the tech companies whose business models are based on harvesting big data.

In Permission Marketing, Godin declared that the age of mass media was over, and therefore, Interruption Marketing was done. He was right on both counts - at the time. It seems to me that the rise of monolithic social media has, so far, delayed the inevitable. But the reality behind the two techniques hasn't really changed. The quantifiable response rate to interruption-based campaigns remains dismal, while the response rate from potentially loyal clients who give you permission to stay in contact with them (provided you continue to serve them relevant, reliable, helpful information about products and services) remains high. And it always will.
Profile Image for Ahmed Korayem.
32 reviews10 followers
September 28, 2013
Repetition, repetition, and guess what again ??? Repetition. This is my first time to rate a book with a single star. The concept of permission marketing was very well explained at the very beginning of the book, and i was fascinated by the way Seth explained the evolution of marketing from one to one approaches to mass campaigns. After that, the book gave nothing new.
Profile Image for Omar Halabieh.
217 reviews52 followers
November 23, 2013
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "As clutter has increased, advertisers have responded by increasing clutter. And as with pollution, because no one owns the problem, no one is working very hard to solve it."

2- "In addition to clutter, there's another problem facing marketers. Consumers don't need to care as much as they used to. The quality of products has increased dramatically It's increased so much, in fact, that it doesn't really matter which car you buy, which coffee maker you buy, or which shirt you buy They're all a great value, and they're all going to last a good long while."

3- "To summarize the problem that faces the Interruption Marketers: 1. Human beings have a finite amount of attention. 2. Human beings have a finite amount of money. The more products offered, the less money there is to go around. 4. In order to capture more attention and more money. Interruption Marketers must increase spending. 5. But this increase in marketing exposure costs b\ money. 6. But, as you've seen, spending more and more money in order to get bigger returns leads to ever more clutter. 7. Catch-22: The more they spend, the less it works. The less it works, the more they spend."

4- "Five Steps to Dating Your Customer: 1. Offer the prospect an incentive to volunteer 2. Using the attention offered by the prospect, offer a curriculum over time, teaching the consumer about your product or service. 3. Reinforce the incentive to guarantee that the prospect maintains the permission. 4. Offer additional incentives to get even more permission from the consumer. 5. Over time, leverage the permission to change consumer behavior toward profits."

5- "Permission Marketing Is Anticipated, Personal, Relevant: Anticipated—people look forward to hearing from you. I Personal—the messages are directly related to the individual. Relevant—the marketing is about something the prospect is interested in."

6- "Permission Marketing is the tool that unlocks the power of the Internet. The leverage it bring to this new medium, combined with the pervasive clutter that infects the Internet and virtually every other medium, makes Permission Marketing the most powerful trend in marketing for the next decade."

7- "By focusing media on getting permission instead of making the ultimate sale, marketers are able to get far more out of their expenditures. The response rate to a free sample or c affinity program or a birthday club might be five or ten times the response rate of an ad asking for a sale."

8- "There are five levels of permission. The highest level of permission is called the "intravenous" level. The fifth and lowest is called the "situation" level. Here are the five levels in order of importance. 1. Intravenous (and "purchase-on-approval" model) 2. Points (liability model and chance model) 3. Personal relationships 4. Brand trust 5. Situation. There's a sixth level, but it's so low I won't even refer to it as a level at all. It's called spam (unsolicited advertising), and it's covered last."

9- "Once you have earned permission, you must keep it land attempt to expand it. These four rules go a long way to help marketers understand permission: 1. Permission is nontransferable. 2. Permission is selfish. 3. Permission is a process, not a moment. 4. Permission can be canceled at any time."

10- "Miss the opportunity to build a permission relationship directly with the consumer, and your company is likely to become a commodity supplier. If you acknowledge the coming power of the permission holder yet choose to avoid the battle to become one, you can still win. If you start now, you can optimize your company for the role of supplying the permission holder, making yourself more attractive to these gatekeepers and locking in the long-term relationships that can give you insulation moving forward. On the other hand, if you go for the opportunity to deal direct, you'll face the wrath of your existing intermediaries. It'll be expensive to build and maintain a permission base, and risky too. But if you succeed, you will have built an asset that can offset the demands of the gatekeepers. You'll be able to maintain fair pricing and generate better profits."
Profile Image for Chris.
53 reviews3 followers
August 26, 2013
I found it rather amusing how the book started off with the example of how you're supposed to think of marketing as asking for a date rather than attempting to propose marriage right off the bat. There's an endless supply of books and tomes out there trying to explain how you're supposed to get a date and how hard it truly is. Permission Marketing doesn't really tell you how you're supposed to get that initial attention and wowing factor although it does go into well how you should be building a relationship with your customers. Loyalty cards, subscription systems, and tailored emails are all talked about here. Don't try to profit off of your customer base all at once but make it a process over time.

It's pretty amusing to hear web services like Prodigy and Excite get mentioned here. I almost forgot about them. With how much the web has evolved with social networking, video sites, and the prominence of Google, the specific advise is a bit out of date but the sentiments are valid.

I liked how the book was short and sweet and to the point. I wonder if they're trying to build a relationship with me here though. Give me only some of the information in one go and now I'm supposed to go hunt down the rest of this guy's bibliography and whatever newsletters he's got. Hah, something to think about...
Profile Image for Tanya.
7 reviews1 follower
September 25, 2012
I think one of the biggest problems facing marketers who are using social media is not learning the tools themselves but in how to use the tools. I used to say when I was teaching social media that my students did not need to be afraid of Twitter. They already have the knowledge of how to market, this was just a new tool. It was like they were building a home with a hammer, and now they have a new tool of an electric nail gun. As soon as they learn to use it they will be okay.

While I still feel that they do not need to be afraid of using Twitter. I find that even after learning how to use Twitter and other social marketing platforms, there is still confusion and errors in reaching out to the audience. I realize that the problem is they are using a new form of communication in a traditional way. They use it like a billboard or an ad where you are telling the customer something and walking away. The trick is to actually talk to the customer like they were inside of a store.

I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with understanding how social media can be used as a form of marketing. It was published when social media was just emerging and Twitter wasn't even invented yet. This is why Seth Godin is so good at what he does. He saw a trend before it happened and explains it well.
40 reviews1 follower
November 30, 2009
Being an old book a lot of information is a bit outdated.
For one, AOL, AltaVista are gone, Yahoo! was replaced by Google.
Banners and pop-ups are still with us.

However the basic concept is still valid. I've read many reviews where people complain about Godin not writing anything "new", that the whole permission marketing idea is thousands years old - as he himself points out a few times in the book, it was the norm until about a 100 years ago -, and this is all intuitive, nothing new there.

But if it is intuitive and so well known, why don't people use it?

The concept is well explained - some would say, repetitive, but those who complain about it forget that he wrote a lot about frequency in his book -, there are 22 short case studies showing different aspects of the concept of permission marketing - including a fledgling amazon.com, just trying to be a successful online bookstore in the shadow of Barnes&Noble.

Yes, it contains a lot of self-evident ideas (short term profit kills off long term profit), but looking around I think self-evident ideas have to be pointed out, because people always forget them, and yes, it can be a bit repetitive at times - how many times did you solve very similar equations in calculus class until you learned how to do it? -, but this is not a novel. It is book that intends to get a message through.

Anyway, I say read it. It won't hurt. :)
Profile Image for elif kalafat.
188 reviews79 followers
January 19, 2021
fun reading!

Reading a marketing book written in 1999 was an interesting experience, but reading the entire book was a waste of time. The author has a great vision and almost all his claims and predictions about these times that we have have come true.

he goes to too many repetitions to prove his idea and makes very long explanations in different areas of marketing. however, if you are someone who has already accepted these, it is really hard to read. for someone who knows marketing basis, it will be quite boring to read.

If I had read this book in 1999, I am sure my reactions would be very different since it's a very valuable prepared book.
Profile Image for Mark Sylvester.
61 reviews6 followers
April 27, 2015
Interesting read! A little outdated in parts as it was written in 1999, but a step by step strategy for turning strangers into customers using permission marketing (when people give you permission to market to them), rather than interruption marketing (TV ads,etc) . Particularly liked the portion that explained how permission needs to be 3 essential components in order to work - anticipated, personal, and relevant. Recommended as Seth was the father of this kind of marketing that's dominating Internet business in particular, so it's good to hear it from the horses mouth, so to speak.
Profile Image for Calin Biris.
122 reviews46 followers
January 13, 2014
Permission Marketing is to Inbound Marketing, what Darth Vader is to Luke Skywalker. A must read for starters in Online Marketing.
Profile Image for Gisela Hausmann.
Author 39 books363 followers
Read
February 28, 2015
To get this off my chest I want to begin by saying that illustrating the statement “Frequency works” with Muhammad Ali’s fight record is simply wrong, or, at best a not well chosen example. Godin writes “Muhammad Ali did not become heavyweight champion by punching twenty people one time each. No, he became the champ by punching one guy twenty times. By applying frequency to the poor opponent’s head, Ali was able to bring his message home…”

I might have ignored this if it did not come up a second time.

“… Back to Muhammad Ali again. After he’s hit someone ten times and the guy’s still standing, the opportunity for a quick knockout is long gone. Only through persistence…”

If this is about illustrating ‘persistence’ there are better examples. If this is about “boxing/Muhammad Ali AND persistence” it’s a really bad example. Muhammad Ali averaged 9th round KOs. That was Ali’s style. Mike Tyson averaged 3rd round KOs. That was Tyson’s style. Indeed, Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds in one of the fastest KOs in the heavyweight division.

Whereas Ali took the time to dance with the "Ali Shuffle, to showboat, and even talk to his opponent, Tyson did what he came to do -without show (he sold the outcome). But there is a lesson to be learned. After some time Tyson’s fights could not be sold in the United States anymore; most famously Tyson vs. Buster Douglas took place in Tokyo, because Americans weren’t going to pay hundreds of dollars for what they thought would be a 90 seconds fight (Boxing is about entertainment too). Ali knew this. That is why boxing is such a bad example for the contents of this book. Any boxer, who pursues “selling the fight and going for a later round knock-out” risks injury and loss, but fighters, who go for the quick sale, cannot sell anymore after they have done this for a while. So, if the “message” is about winning, the strategy depends on the opponent, and that is why boxing is not a great example.

Aside from this flaw Seth Godin’s book is a great book. His elaborations about permission marketing vs. traditional Interruption marketing are brilliant and I can only guess what a huge impact this book made in 1999. Even today students of marketing must be riveted to read about the historic developments in marketing, never mind that some of the quoted companies don’t exist anymore. E.g. my children (in their early 20’s), who know much more about phones than I will ever know, have never heard of MCI. Then again, maybe reading about MCI might prompt them to read up on who this former telecommunications company was and find out why it went down.

Of course telecommunication companies are notorious for their ridiculous approaches. For a short while I was Charter’s customer. This company thought they can handle ‘permission marketing’ their own way. Even though I told them that I wanted to buy Internet services only, and that I haven’t had TV since 2009, and, that I did not intend to get TV because I find nothing worthy to watch, they called me every 10 days to offer me TV. So I cancelled them. At that occasion the customer service representative asked me why I cancelled their services and I told him that I felt harassed. To which he replied that I should have gotten on their no-call list. To which I replied, that no, the fact that they knew my phone number did not entitle them to call me anytime between 8-5 whenever they felt like it. Not even my mother calls me during working hours.

Additionally, the fact that I told them more than 20 times in no uncertain terms that I was not interested in getting TV, clearly demonstrated that they were NOT listening to their customer. My new provider sends me “invitations to get TV” every 2 weeks, via snail mail. I throw their mail into my recycle bin.

Naturally, Seth Godin elaborates about telecommunications companies too, only he writes about Bell Atlantic, which today is Verizon. I wonder how many of the younger readers of this book know that.

The above is a perfect example of permission marketing gone wrong and I would hope that somebody from Charter’s marketing department reads Seth Godin’s book sometime soon. I really appreciated Seth Godin’s elaborations about the “five levels of permission”. Looking into my Inbox I can tell that many corporations’ marketing departments have taken Seth Godin’s advice to heart. Of course the downside of this is that most people simply delete their flood of emails and that’s that. In fact email providers are developing programs to assist this process because people don’t have enough time to unsubscribe the unwanted content.

Absolutely brilliant are Godin’s mentioning of Columbia Record Club and the Book of the Months Club. Indeed it was these concepts that lay the foundation for brilliant permission marketing but we don’t get to read too much about these innovators anymore.

While I realize that the book is listed as “published in 1999” I had hoped that the book included some kind of an update, maybe a 3-5 page foreword would have been excellent. The way how it is presented “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends Into Customers” is more of a history book than a cutting edge book. That kind of surprised me.

Gisela Hausmann, author & blogger
Profile Image for Gisela Hausmann.
Author 39 books363 followers
February 28, 2015
To get this off my chest I want to begin by saying that illustrating the statement “Frequency works” with Muhammad Ali’s fight record is simply wrong, or, at best a not well chosen example. Godin writes “Muhammad Ali did not become heavyweight champion by punching twenty people one time each. No, he became the champ by punching one guy twenty times. By applying frequency to the poor opponent’s head, Ali was able to bring his message home…”

I might have ignored this if it did not come up a second time.

“… Back to Muhammad Ali again. After he’s hit someone ten times and the guy’s still standing, the opportunity for a quick knockout is long gone. Only through persistence…”

If this is about illustrating ‘persistence’ there are better examples. If this is about “boxing/Muhammad Ali AND persistence” it’s a really bad example. Muhammad Ali averaged 9th round KOs. That was Ali’s style. Mike Tyson’s averaged 3rd round KOs. That was Tyson’s style. Indeed, Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds in one of the fastest KOs in the heavyweight division.

Whereas Ali took the time to dance with the "Ali Shuffle, to showboat, and even talk to his opponent, Tyson did what he came to do -without show (he sold the outcome). But there is a lesson to be learned. After some time Tyson’s fights could not be sold in the United States anymore; most famously Tyson vs. Buster Douglas took place in Tokyo, because Americans weren’t going to pay hundreds of dollars for what they thought would be a 90 seconds fight (Boxing is about entertainment too). Ali knew this. That is why boxing is such a bad example for the contents of this book. Any boxer, who pursues “selling the fight and going for a later round knock-out” risks injury and loss, but fighters, who go for the quick sale, cannot sell anymore after they have done this for a while. So, if the “message” is about winning, the strategy depends on the opponent, and that is why boxing is not a great example.

Aside from this flaw Seth Godin’s book is a great book. His elaborations about permission marketing vs. traditional Interruption marketing are brilliant and I can only guess what a huge impact this book made in 1999. Even today students of marketing must be riveted to read about the historic developments in marketing, never mind that some of the quoted companies don’t exist anymore. E.g. my children (in their early 20’s), who know much more about phones than I will ever know, have never heard of MCI. Then again, maybe reading about MCI might prompt them to read up on who this former telecommunications company was and find out why it went down.

Of course telecommunication companies are notorious for their ridiculous approaches. For a short while I was Charter’s customer. This company thought they can handle ‘permission marketing’ their own way. Even though I told them that I wanted to buy Internet services only, and that I haven’t had TV since 2009, and, that I did not intend to get TV because I find nothing worthy to watch, they called me every 10 days to offer me TV. So I cancelled them. At that occasion the customer service representative asked me why I cancelled their services and I told him that I felt harassed. To which he replied that I should have gotten on their no-call list. To which I replied, that no, the fact that they knew my phone number did not entitle them to call me anytime between 8-5 whenever they felt like it. Not even my mother calls me during working hours.

Additionally, the fact that I told them more than 20 times in no uncertain terms that I was not interested in getting TV, clearly demonstrated that they were NOT listening to their customer. My new provider sends me “invitations to get TV” every 2 weeks, via snail mail. I throw their mail into my recycle bin.

Naturally, Seth Godin elaborates about telecommunications companies too, only he writes about Bell Atlantic, which today is Verizon. I wonder how many of the younger readers of this book know that.

The above is a perfect example of permission marketing gone wrong and I would hope that somebody from Charter’s marketing department reads Seth Godin’s book sometime soon. I really appreciated Seth Godin’s elaborations about the “five levels of permission”. Looking into my Inbox I can tell that many corporations’ marketing departments have taken Seth Godin’s advice to heart. Of course the downside of this is that most people simply delete their flood of emails and that’s that. In fact email providers are developing programs to assist this process because people don’t have enough time to unsubscribe the unwanted content.

Absolutely brilliant are Godin’s mentioning of Columbia Record Club and the Book of the Months Club. Indeed it was these concepts that lay the foundation for brilliant permission marketing but we don’t get to read to much about these innovators anymore.

While I realize that the book is listed as “published in 1999” I had hoped that the book included some kind of an update, maybe a 3-5 page foreword would have been excellent. The way how it is presented “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends Into Customers” is more of a history book than a cutting edge book. That kind of surprised me.

Gisela Hausmann, author & blogger
Profile Image for Loy Machedo.
233 reviews192 followers
June 14, 2012
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Permission Marketing by Seth Godin.

Everyday we are bombarded with ads from literally every company, brand, product and service. Every advert uses every possible medium where the targeted ROI is hoped to reach new record levels. And if there is any strategy, science or style that would increase this level by even an iota, you can be rest assured everyone else on the planet would jump the bandwagon to slurp out the last living possibility.

In this competitive, confusing and crazy world of adverting and marketing comes a book that hammers the problem on its head. Ladies & Gentlemen – Welcome Seth Godin’s ‘Permission Marketing’ .

What I liked about this book.
It is a straight forward book that attacks the basic premise that we are being bombarded with too many ads, solicitations and messages – all which seek to capture our curiosity, our attention and our ‘call-to-action’ which is the sale. However, too much of good thing always proves to be bad, Seth brings forth the reality that the old format of marketing which is, as he calls it ‘Interruptive Marketing’ (which disturbs and distracts us from whatever it is we are doing by calling our attention to them), is slowly but surely dying out. He comes out with a new accepted strategic format which is, as he calls it once again ‘Permission Marketing’. The concept is very simple – Offer something for Free or of Value to get their attention and then following that build on your relationship with the person. The only word of caution which he does offer are the ‘ethical rules’ that a company or business should follow so as not to destroy the thin thread of trust.

What’s missing?
I wish he had employed the Al Ries strategy of giving plenty of examples so as to drive home the point and to make it more memorable.

Overall Comments
A brilliantly well written book that has its share of creativity, thought provoking concepts and components that will make you think and guide you if not convince you to the reality of how our world is moving forward. For someone who is the Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo! And known in close circles as an ‘Internet Marketing Pioneer’, this is truly a book worth purchasing.
Great wisdom, Good ideas and Gracious facts.

Overall Rating
8 out of 10.

Loy Machedo
loymachedo.com
Profile Image for Suyog Sonar.
15 reviews14 followers
October 22, 2020
It is quite informative book about marketing. Even though it was written in 1999, it is still relevant today.

There are lot of things that we dont understand about marketing. How a product comes to us, in what form, in what credibility. We all are being manipulated by the marketing guys to buy a particular product, without too much trouble from ourself to first check overall advantages over other available products in the market. We just act on their cues and fall in prey of their game. Although it not always a bad thing. Many products that come to us came because they were better than others.

But this book is for marketers not customers. Or also for customers, or people who want to know about marketing. Godin breaks down various strategies used in marketing, in quite easily comprehensive blocks, such as Permission Marketing and Interruption Marketing.

To give some idea, Interruption marketing is a desperate effort to gain customers by constantly bombarding them with ads through any medium possible: hoardings, banners, newspapers, walls, pamphlets, internet or anything or anywhere they can stick their ad on. They will apply this technique on huge masses and wait and hope someone will respond. It is traditional method and sometimes gives results too.

But the other technique, Permission Marketing is much more effective and efficient. It only promotes the product to the customer who is actual in want lf that particular product. Like a personalised feeds, this is done through emails, or internet ads, which are shown based on your activity. It can also be used in traditional sense, offline, with proper system. But requires more efforts and money than the other, but certainly gives an edge over other techniques.


Well marketing is now secret anymore, with the internet and all. But it was quite an interesting book two decades earlier when it was published. Godin also predicted the future of few companies who used Permission marketing, like amazon who, give you personalized ads and products.

Overall an interesting read. There were few case studies of various companies as well. And many of the predictions Godin did were quite accurate.
Profile Image for Yevgeniy Brikman.
Author 3 books583 followers
June 10, 2017
Here's the TLDR for the book: create opt-in mailing lists, offer incentives to get people to join those lists, and then send promotional materials to those people on a regular basis.

That's honestly all there is to it. Don't get me wrong, the basic premise of the book is correct: instead of "interruption marketing", where you try to grab a prospects attention with all sorts of distractions, you should use "permission marketing", where the prospect opts in to your marketing channel, and you gradually strengthen your "relationship" and the "permissions" that come with it over time. But besides this core message, the book doesn't add a whole lot.

There aren't many great examples to follow, and the ones that are there are very dated. This book was released in '99, when AOL and Excite were still a big deal, and the world has changed a lot since then. Moreover, although the book recommends permission marketing, it still says you need to use at least a little bit of interruption marketing to get that very first permission. That's... a bit self-defeating. In today's world, permission marketing looks a bit different. We call it inbound marketing, and the way we get initial permission is not only through interruptions, but also through social media, blog posts, talks, open source, and so on.

In short, this was probably a good book when it first came out, and the central premise is still a good one, but I'm not sure it's worth reading today, 18 years later.
Profile Image for Alex.
158 reviews39 followers
September 9, 2013
When I finished this book, I tore out the last page and posted it by my desk as a future guide. This book is a bit older at this point (1999 I believe), but some of his predictions were prescient and the principles are timeless. Basically, don't be an annoying fuck while marketing. A lot of it simply plays to people's inherent self-interest, too: "Just because someone is a professional doesn't mean he isn't selfish! Make yourself a little sign and post it on your wall. America's favorite radio station is still WII-FM (what's in it for me), and if you don't acknowledge that with the professionals you're interacting with, they won't give up their valuable time to respond." Anyway, great primer on responsible marketing.
September 6, 2017
Book genre: History of marketing.
Too old to be useful.
But it was interesting to learn how they managed without social networks or Google Ads. )

Profile Image for Marion Hill.
Author 8 books77 followers
May 27, 2018
“The marketer is not in control, the consumer is. And the consumer is selfish. Consumers care very little about you, your company, your products, your career, or your family. They’re not likely to spend time trying to discover how you can help them solve their problems. The heart of Permission Marketing is giving the stranger a reason to pay attention.”

This quote sums up Seth Godin’s main argument in his groundbreaking marketing book, Permission Marketing. Published in 1999, Godin was at the forefront of how the internet has changed the Marketing Industry and this book describes how marketing needed a new strategy to reach consumers.

The consumer’s attention is the most valuable commodity for businesses these days. And before the internet, businesses rely on Interruption Marketing to reach consumers. TV ads, Magazine ads, and Junk Mail are techniques that companies used to get the consumer’s attention.

Godin proposes (and expands on an idea first written by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in their book One on One Future) a new marketing strategy for the Internet Age. A marketing strategy that develops relationships with consumers, paying attention to what the consumer wants, and creating a genuine dialogue between business and consumers. Permission Marketing is the proper marketing strategy to gain consumers’ attention in an ever-distracted world.

“Most marketers practice Interruption Marketing, The difference is simple. An Interruption marketer is a hunter. A Permission Marketer is a farmer.” Godin writes near the end of the book. This analogy is shown throughout each chapter of the book and highlights the differences between the two marketing strategies effectively.

Even though, Godin uses examples from companies like MCI, AOL, and Palm Pilot for his argument on behalf of Permission Marketing, the concepts and techniques of the marketing strategy are still sound twenty years after the book was published. I recommend Permission Marketing for entrepreneurs, corporations, and readers who want a basic guide on how to market in the Internet age. Permission Marketing will be one of my favorite reads of the year and remain on my bookshelf to be re-read.
Profile Image for AV.
78 reviews9 followers
November 19, 2019
I couldn't complete it. Had to abandon around final 20% of the pages (should have done it sooner) as it just got too difficult to ingest.

There're many issues with this book.

1. The content is terribly dated. Examples are not at all relevant today. There are places where it talks about the benefits of email (duh!) and goes as far as to claim that "there will come a time when big companies will abandon the web - something I'm yet to see.

2. There's just too much repetitive and re-iterative stuff. It reads much like a "Permission Marketing sermon" but has negligible actionable piece of advice.

3. The author throws in hordes of examples and labels just about anything which fits his definition of permission marketing (still trying to figure out what exactly is that). For example, banners have been known to be the worst of intrusions but here the author asks to "use banners to gently interrupt consumers" and says "permission marketers can only use banners effectively".

At one point the author also talks about the implications of using pop-ups while any marketer will today happily tell you about the efficacy of using pop-ups on webpages. It isn't very intrusive and there are companies who have executed it very fruitfully.

I'm not sure if any of this could be useful for new-age marketers.
Profile Image for Mario Russo.
259 reviews8 followers
May 28, 2018
It's curious how this is aligned with Jeff Walker approach. Plus, while the book was published almost 20 years ago, by coincidente I just happened to read it a little after the Facebook mess with Cambridge analytica, proving Godin's insight were relevant far ahead of its time.Short book and fun read. Recommended.
Profile Image for Eloise Sunshine.
722 reviews39 followers
August 16, 2021
OMG, I can't believe that I've finally managed to finish this book! Gosh!
Started reading it in January 2013, making about half way through, then returning it to the library and taking a break for several years. So it was hanging here in my "Currently reading" shelf ever since, until decided to pick it up and try to finish a year ago. Shuffeling through pages, I realized I didn't remember much anything of it anymore, so started from page 1 again.

So by all means, don't get me wrong, it isn't a bad book as such! Seth definitely was ahead of his time and knew for sure what he was talking about. It's just that lots of the things described here are already outdated or have become common knowledge and practice by today. Despite all that, one can find also good marketing tips from here even today, as well as an interesting perspective on all the massive amount of different advertisements we are forced to consume every day. Oh, how the times have changed with 20 years...
Profile Image for Jerimiah Baldwin.
11 reviews1 follower
November 7, 2022
Great job, Seth! I really appreciated your paradigm shifting perspective on marketing strategy. The worse clutter and interruption marketing gets, the more permission marketing works. The dating analogy was very instrumental. What a great addition to the library of business literature. 


But, I did chuckle at the references to PalmPilot. Good times. 
Profile Image for Elena.
165 reviews65 followers
June 27, 2018
Some of his ideas are quite interesting, other sound redundant almost 20 years past publication date. This would have been a lot more useful book, had it been republished with a fresher perspective on things.
Profile Image for Saeed.
173 reviews51 followers
April 6, 2019
A book for pick up artists and what a fantastic idea this book has :)
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