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Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers Hardcover – May 6, 1999
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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.
Godin knows his stuff. He created Internet marketer Yoyodyne and sold it in 1998 to Yahoo!, where he is a vice president. Godin delves into the strategies of several companies that successfully practice permission marketing, including Amazon.com, American Airlines, Bell Atlantic, and American Express. Permission marketing works best on the Internet, he writes, because the medium eliminates costs such as envelopes, printing, and stamps. Instead of advertising with a plain banner ad on the Internet, you should focus on discovering the customer's problem and getting permission to follow up with e-mail, he writes. Permission Marketing is an important and valuable book for businesses seeking better results from their advertising. --Dan Ring
Business Week Seth Godin is the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age.
Robert Tercek Senior Vice-President, Sony Pictures Entertainment The principles of Permission Marketing are incredibly valuable to everyone involved in media today.
Lester Wunderman Chairman-Emeritus of Wunderman Cato Johnson, the largest direct-marketing firm in the world; author of Being Direct. Advertisers are going to have to learn how to deliver messages with frequency and low cost if they are to cope with the increasing competition for the consumer's attention. Seth Godin's Permission Marketing is a big idea.
William C. Taylor Founding Editor, Fast Company Godin and his colleagues are working to persuade some of the most powerful companies in the world to reinvent how they relate to their customers. His argument is as stark as it is radical: Advertising just doesn't work as well as it used to -- in part because there's so much of it, in part because people have learned to ignore it, in part because the rise of the Net means that companies can go beyond it.
Mark Kwamme CEO, CKS Group Permission Marketing is a testament to Godin's profound grasp of digital marketing. "Interruption Marketers" everywhere would do well to read this book.
Eric Hippeau Chaiman, Ziff-Davis, Inc. Finally, here's a measurable method for marketing in a world filled with clutter.
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (May 6, 1999)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0684856360
- ISBN-13 : 978-0684856360
- Item Weight : 13.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #174,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2022
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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 great 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
My copy was published in 1999, so as you might imagine a lot of things have changed since then. I read with a bit of historical amusement how AOL and ATT abused their permission marking program, pissed off their customers and forgot who they served. I was surprised that he didn't mention COMCAST, but their customer abuse might have been a bit later.
In retrospect, I could have probably passed on this book, but you never know until you get into it.
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. 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."
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From the outset, the author admits that he is revisiting a topic that he first discussed a decade or so earlier, which is fine. The issues lie in the fact that he has not updated the book to deal with marketing in the current climate (or at least at the time of writing the book second time around). The initial part of the book sets the scene and describes the fundamentals of permission marketing. Sadly, the book never really takes off from here. The middle of the book gets muddled and the number of mnemonics and rules on permission marketing start to increase. Before you know it, you're flicking back to earlier chapters to recall what the author is on about.
The books ends completely flatly and I came away wondering what I had learned that I didn't already know. Every chapter seems like a repetition of the previous one, and in the end, I started to lose focus. The blatant lack of up-to-date and non-American examples is the real shocker. Very rarely does the author provide specific examples of how permission marketing has worked/not worked. I think the book would have been stronger and benefited greatly from recent case studies from companies around the world.
As one earlier reviewer has put it, the ideas within the book, whilst initially look sound, are actually outdated; or at least feel outdated.
I would recommend people who are considering this book type in permission marketing into google and see some of the online discussions and posts about the subject. You'll save yourself the price of this book, which fails to live up to expectations.
1. You gain nothing by buying the latest edition of the book - it's exactly the same as the original except for the preface where he explains why he has deliberately not updated the book.
2. You don't need to read this book if you subscribe to his daily blog (which I do). The only thing that the book brings to the table is that it's all in one place, plus he gives examples, except they are all American examples and all 12 years out of date (and remember: this is about the internet).
[By the way, I once emailed Seth Godin asking him for examples to illustrate the points in his blog posts, and he replied saying that there are many examples in his books.]
3. It's possible to download the first few chapters for free from his website and read them as a pdf. Funnily enough, it was reading the first part of the book in this way which persuaded me to buy it.
What the book is about: -
The central idea of the book is very powerful: Most of the marketing and advertising in the 20th century was "interruption marketing" eg newspapers, TV advertising etc. In the modern era there is so much advertising clutter, than most people ignore conventional advertising and instead can be sold to by the marketer building a relationship, over time, with the customer. Powerful stuff - and I recommend all business people to read it.
Moreover, the principles behind what is explained in this book is not new. It might be explained in a different way and put into the internet context but 'Permission Marketing' would be the samoe as infomercials on TV, David Ogilvy's news-looking advertisements or the principles explained in Claude Hopkins' Scientific Advertising 70 years before this book.
I still give it 2 stars because there are still a few good pearls here and there but it has been a disappointment because I've been following Seth Godin's blog for a while and he gives great insights on marketing and business so I expected a timeless classic just like Ogilvy's or Hopkins' books.
Seth talks about 'Permission' marketing, which is the opposite to broadcast. In the broadcast marketing world, we push messages out to people, without asking them if they'd like to see them. This is un-targeted and ineffective. Permission Marketing is about building what Seth calls a Permission Asset. This can be an email list, customer bass, network, following, community, etc, that has given you permission to market to them. This means that when you send out your message, these people are not only likely to buy, but they WANT to buy.
Good thoughts, but if you've read Seth's other books, no need to read this one.