Good read — Permission Marketing

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”

Seth Godin‘s own summary above is the perfect one-sentence precis of his marketing book, Permission Marketing. And to unpack what this means in practice Godin uses a brilliant anology about finding a husband or wife.

Traditional or “interuption” marketing works on the premise that if you’re looking for a spouse then the best strategy is to triangulate a list of the most appropriate singles bars based on demographics, likely interest-matches and socio-economic status and then parade yourself in the bar in your finest suit and shoes, asking people to marry you. You don’t have to be precociously endowed with common sense to spot the flaw in this strategy, and yet this has been the mainstream, accepted marketing strategy for the last 50 or more years.

Godin elaborates: “If the Interruption Marketer comes up empty-handed after spending the entire evening proposing, it is obvious that the blame should be placed on the suit and the shoes. The tailor is fired. The strategy expert who picked the bar is fired. And the Interruption Marketer tries again at a different singles bar. . . . The other way to get married is a lot more fun, a lot more rational, and a lot more successful. It’s called dating.”


How do we apply dating to marketing?

1. Make a promise. You don’t have to ask them to marry you before you’ve been on a date. Better to win their trust by keeping small promises first. Why not offer potential consumers a discount deal in return for say their email address? Keep this promise and you’ll have their attention next time you want another ‘date’.

2. Keep it personal. Keeping people’s attention is a lot about showing them respect. In turn, showing respect is a lot about showing a personal touch. Don’t be a robot. Remember that the person you’re talking to is a human being, even if the conversation is mediated by a screen.

3. Be relevant. For your customers to keep coming back to engage with you, it’s vital that the permission marketing you do is relevant to them. There’s nothing that get’s people unsubscribing from your newsletter like excessive or irrelevant marketing.


Get them to call you back for a second date. And a third.

1. Attention is priceless. Godin’s key thesis is that the consumer’s attention is a very valuable commodity. In a world in which we have become so inured to marketing and advertisements due to it’s prominence in every area of our lives, the ability to have your customers coming to you to get information about your products is a real win.

2. Why to market this way? It’s cheap and effective. Effective permission marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t rely on large-scale ads. Really it’s a conversation, either through socia media or email, in which they keep coming back to chat to you.

3. Win their trust. Make promises and keep them.  Ask them to listen to you. You’ll get their trust. Get their trust and they’ll keep coming back for your conversation marketing.


If you want to find out more about this, see Seth’s own post about the book.

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