I’ve been doing a lot of reading to broaden my mind professionally over the last few months. I’m going to write a mini review for each book I complete because:
- to imprint the primary points of each book in my mind
- to improve my writing
- to help others who might read this blog identify books that they may want to read or avoid
I read a lot of Godin in preparation for a day-long Q&A session with him that I attended the first week of September 2007 in New York City. Permission Marketing frames a favorite Godin rule of current existence: marketing isn’t the way it used to be. Godin describes the history and evolution of mass advertising succinctly and with value. This evolution is referred to in many other Seth Godin books as well as regularly in his blog posts.
Companies can no longer guarantee increased revenues by simply increasing advertising. The ratio is getting too tight and the tipping point where revenues can’t cover increased advertising expense occurs sooner and sooner. Dumping money into marketing won’t solve a problem unless a new currency is recognized.
This new currency is the attention of potential customers. Potential customers are the exclusive holders of this currency – they are in complete control (to a significant extent). Godin illustrates the difference between old/industrial/mass advertising and permission marketing. The old way was “interruption” marketing, like television/radio/print commercials that disrupted the content of those media. After more than a half-century of this kind of advertising, humans have learned to tune out the vast majority of interruption messages so something new must be done.
The meat of the book is Godin’s definition of permission marketing and his explanation of the 5 levels of permission marketing (listed in order of importance):
3. personal relationships
4. brand trust
In going through these five levels, Godin goes on to describe the concept of permission – it’s value, it’s importance, how it can be abused, and how permission is an ongoing process that can be shut off/cancelled at any time by the customer.
Godin provides us with several examples of web marketing failures as well as a series of case studies. One must bear in mind that this book was published in 1999 – some of the examples of poor web marketing are shocking (”Did companies really expect that to work?”) and similarly, even what were ingenious examples about ten years ago seem a bit dated and simple.
The book closes well with a currently valid permission marketing evaluation self-exam as well as a FAQ, both of which are completely usable to date. Despite the dated case studies, this book is very much worth reading for the definitions of permission and the other sections cited above. Permission Marketing provides a good foundation for more current examples that might be found elsewhere in other texts or even in Seth Godin’s blog archives.