Picture Seth Godin’s warehouse loft about 30 miles north of New York City. It’s a cool space in the unlikely location of commuter town Dobbs Ferry, NY. The building sits a stone’s throw from the busy MetroNorth commuter railway and only a few yards more from the scenic Hudson River. A train trundles by noisily every 10 minutes… interrupting Seth as he speaks.

He stops talking, waits, hardly notices the interruption… then continues his lively presentation. Ironic, huh?! One of the tenets of permission marketing (Seth’s term) is that people hate to be interrupted by marketing messages. Instead engage them step-by-step in a conversation (politely asking permission along the way) and you’re much more likely to win new customers and sales. 

But there we were a week ago today, leaning forward to catch every word, leaning back during the clackety-clack of each train passing, then leaning in again. A few tidbits from Seth’s (yes) engaging live seminar… First, no standard fare at this event for creative marketers. There was sushi for lunch followed by interesting, “healthy” snacks (candies and weird crackers).

We dutifully nibbled when Seth passed them around. But the best part were the Web site reviews. Seth asked each of the 30 or so participants to volunteer their home page URL. Then he offered an impromptu critique. Let me amend that, he unapologetically ripped into every one of our sites. It really was refreshing… His key tips: – What do you want your visitor to do? That’s your banana. Make it absolutely clear. If you don’t, your home page doesn’t work. – Give visitors a choice of (no more than) two options and make it blindingly easy to choose. – Why does everyone put so much stuff on their home page? Less is more… in fact, copy a site design you like.

One of his favorites is Apple. No secret here. Take a look at Apple. Now look at Seth’s site. I could go on but he told us not to take notes and I snuck these few onto my little pad. It was a fun, provocative day. I think he’s doing another seminar in September, if you’re interested.