A Review of Permission Marketing By Seth Godin: Still Relevant
It’s not often someone writes a book on marketing that turns out to be even more relevant more than a decade after it was published.
Permission Marketing by Seth Godin is such an exception.
In light of the explosion of the inbound methodology the last few years, Permission Marketing is more relevant right now than ever before.
Reviewing Permission Marketing
In 1999, Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, the war in Kosovo, and Michael Jordan’s first retirement were all headlines in newspapers. Yes, newspapers.
There was no Facebook, no Twitter, and Google was less than a year old; still just a funny word few people knew about.
You were listening to music on your Walkman, saving important files to floppy discs, and rewinding your VHS tapes before returning them to Blockbuster. In your downtime, and sometimes at work, you were playing the addictive Snake game on a blue Nokia cell phone.
The most ridiculous thing of 1999 was waiting on the annoying sounds of a modem connecting as you dialed in to America Online at a blazing speed of 56k. We won’t even spend a few paragraphs discussing the hysteria of Y2K.
Then, there’s Seth Godin peering into the future, nearly 20 years into the future, as he writes this revolutionary book. As a matter of fact, Permission Marketing was probably backed up to a floppy disc for safe-keeping.
All of these things happened as the Internet Age was just taking off. And yet, where the internet would take sales and marketing was prophetically foretold in this book.
If you want to know how to effectively market your business today, you need to read Permission Marketing. It's just as relevant and insightful today as it was in 1999. Maybe even more so.
You can catch some of the audio book on this YouTube video... although I'm not sure Seth appreciates his books being uploaded to YouTube.
An Evolutionary Leap in Consumer Behavior
For centuries, companies interfaced with consumers in the same way; interrupting them. From barkers in the market to the commercials on television, interrupting someone was the best way to get their attention and, perhaps, close a sale.
If a consumer wanted to learn about a product, they had to go to the salesman. They were at his mercy, and for the most part, had to take his word for it. The power of information on products was all in the hands of the companies.
The internet shifted that power to the consumer.
Seth Godin brilliantly communicates how companies are going to have to shift from interruption to permission marketing in order to experience success and growth in the information age.
Getting Engaged and Building Commitment
In one of my favorite passages from the book, Godin compares marketing with the dating process. He tells a story of a man who dresses up in a flashy tuxedo, and the best cologne.
This man goes to a club looking for a mate. He finds a single female at the bar and proposes to her. She turns him down. He repeats this process all night with every woman at the club only to return home a failure.
He reviews the failure and erroneously concludes it must be the suit or the cologne. So he fires his tailor, buys a new suit and a new scent, and runs off to try it again. And the cycle repeats with the man never identifying the faulty process rather than blaming irrelevant matters for his failures.
Everyone, even the socially inept, can see how this man has it all wrong.
To get engaged, you have to first introduce yourself. Then you go on a series of increasing commitments. You get a phone number, then a date, then another date, then a steady relationship, then a time of learning each other, and the process goes on. Eventually, the relationship gets to a point where the commitment must be made.
In other words, it takes time to build the trust needed for a commitment of marriage.
The same is true today, for customer/company relationships. Asking for the sale immediately without building a relationship with the customer is not the optimal way to do business anymore.
Is Permission Marketing a Required Read?
If you want to understand the history and the evolution of the inbound marketing methodology, I would definitely recommend reading this book.
Not only will you get a in-depth analysis of the need for an Inbound Marketing strategy, you’ll also receive a succinct explanation of the principles that should go into your inbound strategy.
After reading this book, you’ll definitely understand the concept of the progressive relationships between consumers and brands.
If you want my personal opinion, every single marketing department should have this book in their shared library. It’s not just relevant today but lays the foundation for the future of marketing.
Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.