• 03.31.98

The Six Levels of Permission

Seth Godin explains the six levels of permission marketing.

(In descending order of impact)


1. Intravenous Treatment

The doctor treating you in the emergency room doesn’t have to sell you very hard on administering a drug.

2. Green Stamps

Executives suffer through long layovers to gain frequent-flyer miles. Here, the company rewards customers in a currency they care about.

3. Personal Relationships

The corner dry cleaner enjoys implicit permission to act in your best interest. A favorite retailer can “upscale” you (recommend something more expensive) without offending you.


4. Branding

Given a choice between the known and the unknown, most people choose the known.

5. Situational Selling

If you’re in a store and you’re about to make a purchase, you often welcome unsolicited marketing advice.

6. Spam

Where most marketers live most of the time: calling a stranger – at home, during dinner, without permission. You wouldn’t do it in your personal life. Why do it to potential customers?