Permission Marketing is one of world-renowned author, Seth Godin’s early digital marketing books. It was first published by Simon & Schuster in 1999. Although marketing is constantly evolving, much of the information in this book is still relevant today. 

The premise of the book centers around the concept that marketers should shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it. Traditional advertising focuses on grabbing the audience away from whatever they are doing. Seth Godin calls this Interruption Marketing, and, throughout the book, explains why it no longer works.

Permission Marketing is a digital marketing effort that offers consumers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily, without interrupting their most important commodity, time.

Permission Marketing: Book Review
Cover of Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

About the Author

There is probably no one more qualified to write on this topic than Seth Godin. In fact, Business Week stated that he is, “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age”. With 18 books (and counting), a popular, well-ranking blog, and a podcast that launched in 2018, Seth is a wealth of knowledge for small business owners who are diving into marketing for the first time or seasoned professionals who are looking to hone in on their skills. Also in 2018, Godin was inducted into the American Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame.

About this Digital Marketing Book

Permission Marketing starts off by identifying the problem: due to the sheer volume of ads served up every day, it’s hard to break through the clutter. So, how does a company stand out in today’s world, where there’s so much competition? Godin’s recommendation is by targeting more niche groups and using permission-based marketing.

What is Permission Marketing?

Seth Godin is actually the one who coined the phrase Permission Marketing. Essentially, it is a marketing concept where consumers receive marketing and promotional offers only after accepting them voluntarily. This is in direct contrast to traditional marketing tactics that were used before the rise of the internet.  

A good example of permission marketing is signing up for an e-newsletter. Potential consumers request to receive information about a certain product or a service. In this example, the marketing message only reaches people who have expressed interest in the product or service.

In the book, Godin defines 5 levels of permission, which are as follows: 

  1. Intravenous 
  2. Points
  3. Personal Relationships
  4. Brand Trust 
  5. Situation

The highest level of permission one can receive is Intravenous Permission. This is when a marketer is given the right to make purchase decisions on behalf of the customer. One example of this would be a Book of the Month Club subscription, where each month, the subscription service sends its customers their book of the month. The consumers have allowed the subscription service to choose for them what book they will get. 

The Pros and Cons of Permission Marketing

The upside of this concept is huge since the marketer is fully in control. However, the downside is great as well. Make one mistake and it could lead to a massive wave of unsubscribes for your service, resulting in thousands or perhaps millions of dollars lost. 

Other Levels

The second level of Permission Marketing is called Points. One example is airline credit cards. The more you spend on your card, the more points you can earn toward free plane tickets. Using Points Permission is an excellent way to reward people for being loyal to your product or service. 

The third level is Relationship Permission. This type of permission is a long term commitment, as it takes years to build a strong relationship, especially in the business world. However, it can be an incredibly valuable way to grow brand awareness and make an impact on your bottom line. 

Brand trust is the 4th level of permission. Similarly to Relationship Permission, brand trust takes a long time to create. It’s hard to develop and it’s hard to measure however, once a company creates a brand that inspires trust, you can expect sales to increase as you introduce new product lines. This is because current customers already trust your initial products and services, so they are much more willing to try anything new that your company rolls out. 

The fifth and final level of permission, according to Godin, is Situational Permission. When you think of situational permission, think of the word opportunistic. Essentially, McDonald’s model of upselling (aka “do you want fries with that?”) is Situational Permission. By being aware of the situation and making an offer at precisely the right moment, you may have the opportunity to increase sales

In Conclusion

Essentially, Godin describes permission marketing as dating your customer. Rather than grabbing a megaphone and shouting your message to passersby, you build a nurturing relationship based on mutual trust. There are 5 steps companies must go through to build this relationship: 

  1. Offer the potential client an incentive so they’ll share their contact information with you. (aka Convert)
  2. After you get their attention, teach them about your product or service through a series of follow up messages, delivered over some period of time. (aka Nurture)
  3. Next, reinforce the incentive by consistently providing value to the potential client.
  4. Continue to offer more incentives over time.
  5. Eventually, you’ll be able to leverage the permission to change consumer behavior toward profits. (Close)

Ultimately, Godin makes the case that permission marketing is more effective than traditional marketing methods, which is similar to what you’ll discover in The Business of Getting Business. 

Because permission-based marketing techniques focus on delivering value, building trust over time and reaching the right niches, ultimately it is the smarter marketing decision for the future. 

This Permission Marketing is the Book for You

If you are a business owner looking to get on the right track about digital marketing, this is the book for you. Technology is redefining our world and the way we communicate with others, so, if you want your business to flourish, get a copy of this book today.

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