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Permission Marketing: Strangers into Friends into Customers [Hardcover]

Seth Godin
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Oct 1999
The man "Business Week" calls "the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age" explains "Permission Marketing"--the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it. 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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (5 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684856360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684856360
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 14.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 689,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Seth Godin, one of the world's foremost online promoters, offers his best advice for advertising in Permission Marketing. Godin argues that businesses can no longer rely solely on traditional forms of "interruption advertising" in magazines, mailings, or radio and television commercials. He writes that today consumers are bombarded by marketing messages almost everywhere they go. If you want to grab someone's attention, you first need to get his or her permission with some kind of bait--a free sample, a big discount, a contest, an 0800 number, or even just an opinion survey. Once a customer volunteers his or her time, you're on your way to establishing a long-term relationship and making a sale. "By talking only to volunteers, Permission Marketing guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing message," he writes. "It serves both customers and marketers in a symbiotic exchange."

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, 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,


Tom Peters Seth Godin moves to the front ranks of Internet Marketing Gurus with this masterful book. It's trite to say it, but this is a real "must read."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended 21 Dec 2001
The Gist:
People, whether they are at work or home, are subjected to a constant bombardment of direct mail, newspaper ads, periodical ads, radio & TV ads, which are all designed to capture their attention ahead of the competition. Godin argues that most individuals do not have time for this approach known as "interruption marketing", either because they are too busy or because they simply resent the intrusion. Instead, he suggests that a different approach is needed in this time-precious age, especially if companies want to not only gain new customers but more importantly, keep them. The permission marketing technique is the reverse of the volume scatter gun method. By obtaining a potential customer's permission for two-way communication to take place, the company can build strong relationships and, over time, turn people into loyal, long-term customers.
Permission marketing has been around for years in record clubs, airlines and even doctor's surgeries & the church! However, it is now easier to take advantage of the permission techniques Godin highlights in his book, since the use of technology cuts out a lot of costs previously associated with such an approach.
Permission Marketing is best explained by the following example. A company sends a mailer highlighting the products and services it offers. This mailer is designed not to directly sell the product or service but instead invites the customer to call or email to request more company information. Once the customer has made contact, the 'dating' process can start. The brochure that is sent out in response to the request not only informs the customer of products and services but within the process, is designed to get permission to follow up and arrange a meeting.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I haven't finished it yet but... 20 April 2007
Format:Paperback has been a very disappointing purchase so far. The preface announces that, although it was first written in 1999, the author decided not to update it for 2007. At all. There are reasons given but, unfortunately, the result is a very dated read, which doesn't take into account the massive changes that have taken place in the intervening years.

The other major problem, as a reviewer of an earlier edition points out, is repetition. The author says the same thing over and over and over again. Whatever the intention is, the effect is poor. As with many book like this, you feel the idea is really only enogh to justify an aticle in a journal, and not a whole book.

I can't see myself ploughing on until the end.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is the best book about contemporary marketing theory we have read this year. At first blush, this might not be saying too much; we know all too well how bad prose and dreary writing seem to be the marketing guru's stock-in-trade. And there is something inhuman in the way they so frequently write of people as mere targets or "hits" or revenue streams. Nor do we like all those "how-I-converted-my whelk-stall-into-a-global-fast-food-conglomerate" books either. Marketing literature rarely provides an uplifting read.
But Permission Marketing is a belter. Seth Godin explores the creative interaction of three motive forces with modern marketing : diminishing returns from conventional advertising; the rise of sophisticated, seen-it-all-before consumers; the revolutionary impact of the Internet as a marketing device. "If you believe that the Internet changes everything", he says, "you will readily appreciate this book". We do and we did. The emphasis that the creative interaction of technological and social change provides a genuinely new possibility of dialogue with customers just has to be right. At the coal-face of modern marketing, large corporations are still spending zillions chasing sales from inherently promiscuous consumers through ever more expensive applications of the old-fashioned marketing mix. Not for nothing are individual advertisements sometimes called "executions". But the changes reviewd by Seth Godin allow for a much deeper basis of loyalty between the cash-rich consumer and the companies that spend time analysing and anticipating real needs. This is the basis for "permission marketing".
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment! 5 July 2004
I am currently writing my dissertation on viral marketing and was hoping to get some additional insight into alternative marketing strategies and tactics. Certainly this book didn't have anything to add at all. Regrettably it is written in a rather populist way with many repetitions and sometimes contradictory arguments (see page 123: "Brand trust is dramatically overrated. It's extraordinarily expensive to create, takes a very long time to develop, is hard to measure, and is harder still to manipulate." Then page 124: "The power of brand trust can be truly significant.." and so on).
I couldn't find anything new about permission marketing. Godin, as far as I am concerned, just randomly throws together concepts of brand loyalty programmes, the importance of dedicated after-sale service, maintaining good personal relationships with important customers etc. just to say at some point that the initial step for any permission marketing activity is still "interruption marketing" via traditional ways of advertising - a concept he, in preceeding chapters, denies much of a future in the marketing world. He even devotes almost an entire chapter to the outline of the difference between frequency and reach. Wow, here's some groundbreaking marketing novelty for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars which states that people need to opt-in to receive your e-mail...
Permission Marketing is the marketing book to rule all marketing books, the one book that you should be sure to read before all others and which you should re-read every year if... Read more
Published 20 days ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love it!
Published 1 month ago by Nikolina
5.0 out of 5 stars Prophetic and still relevant
Ahead of its time and now, with the world finally catching up, more relevant than ever.

If you yourself tend to ignore or dislike adverts that vie for your attention and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lloyd Ash Pyne
3.0 out of 5 stars Another good Seth Book
It repeats points made in his other books. Could do with being updated, with more recent examples replacing the old. Worth a read though.
Published 16 months ago by Matthew
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by all business people
I am a fan of most things that Seth Godin does, so it's quite easy to give this book a top rating - but first of all some points to watch: -

1. Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2012 by Stephen Davies
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts well but becomes repetitive
I'm afraid to say it, but I didn't finish this book.'Permission Marketing' is a great concept, but, despite starting well, the book itself becomes rambling and repetitive. Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2011 by THE Music Enthusiast
4.0 out of 5 stars Permission marketing
I work in Sales and I've found it tougher and tougher to sell to new customers. This book hits the nail on the head as to exactly why this is happening. Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2011 by SSP
2.0 out of 5 stars Flatters to deceive and fails to live up to expectations
I must admit, I was looking forward to this book having read many of the earlier reviews - I'm always one for giving authors the benefit of the doubt. Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2010 by G Marwaha
3.0 out of 5 stars These ideas are now common place
When Seth wrote this it was revolutionary. But our social media world is now at the place where it better understands the idea of PULL rather than PUSH, so this book becomes less... Read more
Published on 10 April 2010 by Scott Gould
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, essential marketing tools
Well written practical marketing suggestions. Seth Godin real world examples illustrate his ideas are not fanciful theory.
Published on 19 Jan 2010 by C. A. Bird
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