LISTSERV (R) at Work - Summer 2003 IssueL-Soft
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L-Soft Interviews Industry Expert

Seth Godin

Q & A with Seth Godin

Q. First of all, congratulations on the success of your new e-book, 99 Cows, as well as the impressive standing of your most recent hardback, Purple Cow, on the Amazon Top 100. Did you expect this type of success when you were writing these books?

A. Actually, I write with terror in my eyes. I'm sure that every book will fail. So I'm always pleasantly surprised.

Q. You coined the phrase Permission Marketing. What did it mean then compared to what it means now?

A. What has changed is what people DO with it, not what it ever meant. In other words, it's been corrupted. It's always meant the same: anticipated, personal and relevant messages, in any medium, that people actually WANT to get.

Q. You keep a daily blog at ... blogs have become quite a Web phenomenon in the past year or so. What do you attribute this to and how does it fit in with Permission Marketing?

A. Blogs allow normal people to behave like journalists. So it's appealing from a producer side. Because there are a million of them, if there are only ten readers per blog, you've got a phenomenon bigger than any newspaper and almost any TV show. The law of large numbers works its magic.

The beauty is that no one forces you to read a blog. Thus, all the noise is gone and you've got just a reader and writer. It's a good match.

Q. What role does e-mail marketing play in achieving an effective Permission Marketing strategy?

A. Email is free. Thus, it makes it cheap to keep in touch with the people who want to hear from you. You can afford to talk to non-customers.

Q. What is your opinion on companies using the word Permission Marketing as part of their offerings (especially companies renting e-mail addresses)? Our Swedish office reports that many companies providing e-mail marketing strategic services equal opt-in with Permission Marketing (even referring to Seth Godin from time to time). Do you agree with that?

A. Opt out is spam! List rental is spam! I hate it when people associate Permission Marketing with either.

True opt-in (not the kind that people lie about) is definitely permission marketing, though. And I'm flattered if they call it that.

Q. Do you have any insights about Permission Marketing in Europe?

A. I think they may be more enlightened than us. I hope so.

Q. Will spam ever go away? What can we do as individuals to stop the proliferation of spam?

A. We can make spam go away fast. All we have to do is persuade the big consumer mail providers (yahoo, aol, etc.) to charge 1/10th of a cent for every email they receive and deliver to their customers.

Boom, it's gone.

Q. What should legitimate e-mail marketers do if they want to succeed in today's web climate?

A. Lower their expectations, invest in true permission, take your time, build a real asset and leverage it for a long time to ultimately make more money and deliver more benefits.

Q. Can you tell us about some of your favorite e-mail marketing campaigns or newsletters?

A. I read Idea of the Day every day, and I just started getting Reveries Cool News. I love 'em both.

Q. What should we be considering for the future of e-mail communication?

A. I think we're on the verge of some tools that will make it faster, easier and more powerful. Let's hope so!

Seth Godin is a bestselling author and renowned speaker. For more information, visit:

Copyright 2003 L-Soft