B2B Business Book Review: Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

For the latest installation in our series of B2B book reviews, we’re taking a look at one of the most well-known business and marketing authors of all. Seth Godin is the best-selling author of more than a dozen books including Tribes, Linchpin and All Marketers are Liars, as well as the book we’re going to take a look at today: Permission Marketing.

Permission marketing was first released back in 1999, but it’s arguably even more relevant today than it was when it was first released. That’s because the concepts that Godin shares have been built upon by internet marketers and essentially form the basics of inbound marketing, in which a company attracts potential customers by providing them with high quality content.

In Permission Marketing, Godin espouses his belief that companies should obtain consent from their customers before they send them marketing messages. This might sound basic now, especially since it was written into law thanks to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, but it was revolutionary thinking back in its day and is required reading for marketers in the same way that every child should read a Dr. Seuss book.

The Concept

Traditional marketing has been all about interrupting people, whether we’re talking about running television ads or putting up billboards. Godin calls this “interruption marketing” and argues that it’s far less effective than gathering permission from people in advance.

When you think about it, it makes sense. After all, it allows marketing materials to be personalised towards people’s needs and even anticipated if you send them messages on a scheduled basis. This in turn cuts costs and boosts conversion rates, allowing companies to build long-term relationships with people instead of metaphorically beating them into submission until they buy a product.

It’s interesting to note that while permission marketing has influenced the way that we carry out email marketing – forcing brands to obtain permission from people before they start sending emails – it’s also heavily impacted social networking sites. After all, what does a like or a follow mean if it doesn’t mean “I give you permission to appear in my news feed”?


More Books by Seth Godin

Permission Marketing is just one entry into a long list of excellent books that Godin has released, and if you enjoy his writing style here then it’s worth looking into some of his others. Just a few of our favourites include:

Purple Cow: Explains how if you want your product or service to stand out, it needs to be something that’s worth talking about – like a purple cow.

Tribes: Increasingly relevant in our modern era, this covers the way that we tend to group together into groups of similar people and how businesses can tap into that.

But Permission Marketing is a great place to start, and it’ll give you a thorough grounding of an ethos that will serve you well in business, whether you’re working in marketing or in product development. Be sure to click here to check it out and to let us know if you’d like us to review any of Godin’s other books.