BOTW #5: All Marketers are Liars Review

The title “All Marketers are Liars” is very eye catching and made me want to pick up the book and read. This is an example of a very polarizing title that creates a bit of controversy and with the title itself makes you want to read it. Genius. I knew that this was going to be a good one. Seth Godin is one of the OGs of marketing and he is so wise in his writing. He has many theories make you think in a different perspective. He reference’s the purple cow theory that he coined multiple times which is a remarkable idea that spreads. He also refers to all of his books as programs, opinions as world views, which gives you an idea on how his mind views the world.

The main idea of this book is that marketers have to be master storytellers and not liars. If the title changed to “All Marketers are Storytellers” the book would have sold as many copies. The reason why marketers have to be storytellers now is because consumers demand it. There is so much information and data in the world it is just too overwhelming to consolidate everything. How humans learn isn’t through pure facts but from stories. We are natural born storytellers and history is a direct result of that with our need to document and spread stories. Dissecting the human psyche further, people buy what they want and wants are by definition irrational and objective. The only way to appeal to these wants is to tell stories that and not sell people on facts (i.e. how many RPMs your blender can spin compared to the competitors). So marketers aren’t the liars but consumers are, they are lying to themselves and spreading those lies.

He breaks this program down by the 5 parts. These are

1.       World views

World views are basically what you believe in a moment in time. These are ever changing and is a driver in a person's inclination to believe a marketer's story. Framing your stories in a person’s world view is the art of marketing and what enables marketers to frame their brand/business in the exact way they want. Finding these world views is an art and the opportunities lie within the edges. The edges are where consumers with a common world view that have not been addressed as of yet. One rule on world views is people don’t want to change them they just want it to be reinforced. People just hate to admit that they are wrong. This maybe true most of the time but one example actually shows that it is possible to improve one's perception of a brand.

Ex. McDonalds aimed to change people's world view of their terrible food quality with some success with their Ask Questions Campaign. Why this campaign succeeded was aided with the virality of social media and of how transparent they were in answering people's questions. I believe social media enables marketers the ability to change world views at scale if done right. It is still an incredibly difficult and expensive feat to pull off. Their US videos featuring Grant Imahara still have very skeptical comments and a healthy amount dislikes. Here are the results from the Canadian campaign. 

2.       People only notice the new stuff

There is so much data that bombards us everyday that we need to filter them out and one way is to compare it to the status quo and if it’s nothing new and exciting we just ignore it. You must create a "Purple Cow" in order to get noticed by your target audience.

3.       People invent stories and guess

Another way we try to make sense of the world is to make assumptions and snap judgments. We are so quick to make up our minds given the most limited amounts of data. Ex. Job interviews are already decided within the first 5 minutes of the interview and the rest of the time is just backing up the decision. These judgments are like world views and are very hard to change, once they are made up in our minds we try everything to support them. 

4.       Great marketers tell stories we believe in

We pretend that we are rational but we use stories to make our decisions. Therefore, we are the ones lying, we are lying to ourselves and once we spread the story we lie to everyone else. Stories let us lie to ourselves and satisfy our desires. Ex. With the organic food movement, Whole Foods tells the story of being the place to buy nutritious food and we overpay to make ourselves feel better because we feel we are doing the right thing for us. 

“The core of the story is the product, if the core is rotten it will fall apart.” - Seth Godin

5.       Marketers with authenticity thrive

Stories must be consistent through all the touch points. If they don’t then there will be contradictions and will be hard to retain trust. You will become a fraud like VW did when they lied to everyone about their emissions. They had such a great story of being the car built for safety but after that revelation came out their story shattered into pieces that they are still trying to pickup.

“A story is a symphony, not a note” - Seth Godin

I absolutely love this book because the content is evergreen and will always hold true. It really dives into modern marketing, consumer behavior and illustrates why people do what they do. Seth Godin is a master of the written word and has a one of a kind view of the world that needs to be shared. I would give this book 4.5 Pinnochios out of 5.

Get this book here