May 23, 2005
News & Opinion: Review: All Marketers Are Liars
All Marketers Are Liars
Author: Seth Godin
By Wayne Hurlbert, Blog Business World
"All marketers are liars".
With that provocative title and opening salvo, well known author, marketing expert, and business blogger Seth Godin takes the reader on another landmark journey into the marketing field.
After reading All Marketers Are Liars, your approach to marketing, advertising, and your own buying habits will never be the same again.
While Seth Godin begins with the disarming premise that marketing people are liars, he softens that stance to marketers are story tellers. Good marketers are story tellers, and like all great tales, myths, and fiction, the facts are not essential. What is really important to a good story is a universal truth.
The listener hears the story, and if it rings true to the person’s perceptions, the story becomes that of the listener. The person hearing the story internalizes the subjective truth of the story, and becomes part of the story. The facts don’t really matter. The listener hearing what is believed as truth is what really counts.
With that change of gears, Seth Godin postulates that it’s then the purchaser of the product or service who becomes the liar. The marketer tells the story. The potential customer creates the lie.
When we buy or consider purchasing a product or service, we lie to ourselves. We tell our inner persona, and how we view ourselves, that the marketer’s story is true. Seth expands that concept further, and says that the marketer must devise and live the story. In effect, the story becomes the truth for that business. The story is an act of creation for the business.
It’s our job as customers to incorporate that story into our own internal belief systems. In fact, it’s more than a job. It’s our part of our need to satisfy our egos about our beliefs, ideas, and of course our purchases. In the words of Seth Godin, it’s our worldview.
A person’s worldview is the lens through which all things are seen. Whether a person considers themself to be rugged and outdoorsy, suave and sophisticated, or up to date and a trendsetter, that is how all things related to the person’s life are seen. The worldview is the story the person internalizes about themselves. To Godin, all images, stories, and messages are framed within that worldview.
To Seth Godin, a worldview is the lie the person tells about themselves and their place in society. Those self told lies are the way that all marketing messages are processed by every individual. If the story told by the business fails to agree with our internal worldview, we ignore it. If the story is not heard, and accepted as true by enough people, the marketing message and the business fails. If no one creates the internal lie, the story lacks truth.
Our internal worldview, which frames all of our perceptions of things around us, determines if a story is true from our point of view. Seth understands that one person’s worldview is not like another. In fact, the book postulates one thousand worldviews held by millions of people. Worldviews range from a very few people to many millions. A wise story teller is one who finds the tale, that is true for many diverse worldviews.
A successful marketer needs only to have the business and product story accepted as truth by a fraction of them. If enough similar and overlapping worldviews internalize the truth of the story, the business and its products and services become a success.
All Marketers Are Liars is the third in the series, of landmark books on the process and psychology of marketing, by marketing expert Seth Godin. Following up the groundbreaking theories presented in Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside, Seth expands his philosophy to include more of the purchaser’s internal thought process. The two previous books outlined the necessity of standing out from the crowd, and providing a unique experience to the customer.
All Marketers Are Liars presents the need to create and live the company and its story. The book correctly defines the need for the buyer to become part of the story as well. By combining the lessons of all three books, the marketer can successfully create a unique business, spread the business idea, and now live the story of that business. As a group, the three books outline a powerful marketing strategy that involves both the company itself and its customers.
Not ignoring his own lessons, Seth Godin has added the buzz building touch of long Pinocchio style fake noses for his readers. As a meme, the noses build a story, and spread the book’s idea. Seth has also added a blog for the book at http://www.allmarketersareliars.com/ as he follows his own advice of utilizing blogs, as a tool for spreading the word
Are all marketers truly liars, or do the business customers the ones who create the lie? Seth answers that question very well with the fake liar’s noses. The reader wearing the nose has already internalized the story. It’s no longer a lie, but a true story. The reader listening to and understanding Seth Godin’s marketing philosophy, internalizes the book’s concepts of story telling, into her own worldview. The book and its story becomes a truth for that reader.
In fact, Seth Godin lives his own story.
What could be more true than that?
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.