All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin Book Summary

Are Marketers Are Liars

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Have you ever wondered why some brands become so memorable and are able to sell even a normal product at 10x higher cost? Did you ever give it a thought how you even remember the advertisements of some brands perfectly while some advertisements don’t even get your attention?

Although it might not seem like a big deal to a normal person, if you dig deeper into the reality of marketing, you will know how well brands manipulate your thinking. 

All Marketers Are Liars is not a book but a behind the scene guide on how marketers use a sensitive weakness of humans and sell any product they want at any amount they want.

You must have guessed the weakness by now, haven’t you?

Yes, Seth Godin talks about how much humans love stories and how using this powerful tool, a brand can tell any story to their audience and get a permanent seat in their mind. In fact, we have been hearing stories since we were like 10 from our grandparents, parents, teacher, in our school books, etc.

Often we think that selling a product is more or less like climbing Mount Everest but Seth Godin has shared his 5-step marketing formula which can be broken down like this:

Step 1: Don’t Go Against The Worldview Of Your Audience

Seth Godin has an emphasis on the world ‘Worldview’ a lot throughout the book. In simplest words, Worldview means rules, values, beliefs, and biases of an individual.

For example: You and I both have different beliefs on what success means. For you it could be peaceful evenings, family members and for me, it could be money and fame. In such a case, conflicts can arise due to our different worldviews.

Similarly, when a brand advertises its product or tells a story, it should not go against the ‘worldview’ of the audience. If your brand’s story goes against the worldview of your audience, it can even backfire on you.

Hence, while telling a story, say what your audience wants to hear instead of fighting against them.

Step 2: People Are Quick To Make Judgements

How many advertisements do you come across on a daily basis? Digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. 

The number is quite giant and surprising, isn’t it? Everyone is trying to sell you something but a person doesn’t notice all those 4000 ads, do you?

While everyone is saying the same thing, you are bound to get bored and then ignore all of them (brands). In such a case, if a brand communicates differently, you are sure to notice them and then remember them.

That’s where Seth Godin says, people are quick to judge. They don’t notice old things, hence, if you want their attention, you have to stand out by saying the same thing but in a unique style.

Step 3: Make a Good First Impression

Just as we saw in step 2, people are quick to make judgments. People make decisions within moments, whether they want what you are selling or not. Hence, before their brain makes any assumptions or judgments, you have to hook their attention by making a good first impression.

As the author says, ‘These snap decisions affect everything we do, and we’ll bend over backward to defend them later’

One of the best ways to make a good first impression is by being authentic. Narrate a story that lines up with your organization, the product, and brand personality. This could be an anecdote about extravagance, family, excellence, or solace simply be certain this story is consistent with the general ethos of your values and brand.

“Humans are able to make extremely sophisticated judgments in a fraction of a second. And once they’ve drawn that conclusion, they resist changing it.”

Step 4: Great marketers tell stories we believe

As discussed earlier, great marketers don’t go against the worldview of their audience. This step is an extension of step 1 where Seth Godin suggests the marketers to tell a story that is believable and doesn’t raise any questions or confusion in the audience’s mind.

For example: George Riedel has been telling a powerful story about wine glasses for ages. Riedel presented an extraordinary series of wine glasses, where various glasses are intended to draw out the most desirable characteristics of various kinds of wine.

He says that each wine recounts his own remarkable story and the glass is the mediator, which interprets the directive for the individual who drinks from it. Various scientific tests have later proven that there’s no contrast between George glasses and others, yet wine specialists and experts from everywhere the world swear that wine tastes better from a Riedel glass.

Do I need to say anything else on the power of storytelling?

Step 5: Marketers with authenticity thrive

Authenticity can never go wrong. Godin throws light on how genuine interaction can have an impact and create a long-term relationship between the customer and the brand. He says that if you want to change the story that the audience is narrating now, you need to indulge in a personal interaction! 

As we saw, an average person comes across around 4000 ads per day which is quite a reason why customers always feel overwhelmed. In order to get the attention of the audience, you have to treat them as humans first. Narrate a story keeping in mind that a human is going to hear this and how a human will perceive it.

Further in his book, Godin talks about how you can compete against the stories narrated by your competitors and above all how you can make your customers narrate your story?

While these are the 5-steps formula of successful marketing, let us also dive into all the 4 things I have learned from All Marketers Are Liars.

1. Focus on satisfying wants, not needs

Many of us may think what’s the big difference between want or need? However, Godin says that a great marketer is an artist, not a scientist. The marketers realize that whatever is being sold (a product, a service, a religion, or anything else) is being purchased by the people because it generates an emotional want, not because it fulfills a simple need.

As a result, a marketer’s focus should be on satisfying wants, not needs. Wants are subjective and irrational while needs are objective and practical. You can sell anything if it fulfills a want, not just a need.

“Marketers profit because consumers buy what they want, not what they need.”

2. Telling A Great Story

Although, we have discussed a lot about telling a great story but there are some traits that you can see in every great story which are:

  • Great stories make a promise
  • A great story is true
  • Great stories are trusted
  • Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to your senses
  • Great stories are subtle
  • Great stories are not aimed at everyone
  • Great stories align with our worldview
  • Great stories don’t contradict its own point

The next time you narrate a story or just see a bran narrating a story, observe if the story has these traits or not.

Godin believes that a great story must have all these qualities. He further says that a great story makes a person feel secure, happy, or smart. 

He gives an example of the famous brand Puma too in his book to prove his point. He says how a customer feels when he buys Puma’s sneakers for $125-hipness, belonging, and fashion. It’s not really about the product but the story narrated by Puma that made the customer feel something. 

“Truly great stories succeed because they are able to capture the imagination of large or important audiences.”

3. The Difference Between Fibs and Frauds

There is a thin line difference between fibs and frauds when it comes to storytelling. Fraud is a pure lie told for personal gain. Or in the words of Seth Godin, fraud is a deceitful lie told by the marketer for his selfish benefit.

Whereas, Fib is a story that is told to make something better. It’s more like an honest lie-authentic. Fib is what Riedel did with his Wine Glasses. Or you can also take the example of Burger King vs Mcdonalds. Both the companies claim they have better taste and service. 

If you love McDonalds, you will believe in their story and if I love Burger King (which I do), I believe in their story. In that case, Is Mcdonalds lying? No, simply. Fib is something that is told by the marketers but believed and spread by the audience. 

And mark it here: The audience doesn’t help in spreading your frauds.

Godin says that marketers should use fibs in their story rather than frauds as fibs keeps your brand authentic and creates word of mouth too.

4. Marketers Can See The Connection

Seth Godin has talked a lot about the power of storytelling in this book but he says that Marketers didn’t invent storytelling. They just perfected it.”

If you analyze this statement, it’s quite true. All the examples that Seth Godin has given in his book along with the techniques of narrating a perfect story, there is a common pattern that makes all these stories worth it.

And the pattern lies in your observation power. Telling a great story that aligns with your product’s benefits and customer’s worldview is not as easy as eating a cheesecake. 

If you examine the example of George Riedel, could you have come up with the idea of connecting wine with glasses? 

Or take another example of KitKat, a chocolate brand. Kitkat connected their chocolates with breaks and narrated a story that “Have a break, have a KitKat”. In fact, in some countries, KitKat even narrated a story that Kitkat, breaks, and coffee are the best combination to take a pause and refresh yourself. 

Does it make sense? It did and worked best for Kitkat. Now, every time, you have your coffee or have a break in the office, chances are high you will remember KitKat too.

This is how a great marketer can see the connection between his product and what the audience already believes in. You just need to be a good observer and set up a perfect combination. Jonnah Berger talks about the same concept in his book, Contagious.

Conclusion

Any product that launches in the market either fails or gets the eye-rolling of the consumers. Both things depend entirely on how well a brand markets its product. While we have already discussed what are the important things to keep in mind before promoting the story of your product/service, we must also keep in mind that the story is easily digestible and has something so unique that people can’t forget about it.

If people can’t forget about it, they are bound to buy your product and there you go. 

All Marketers Are Liars is a must-read book not only for marketers but for everyone out there. In fact, every businessman must read All Marketers Are Liars so they know if their marketers are doing a good job or not. As a businessman, it’s your responsibility to know what kind of promise/claims/message is being promoted by your marketer. If the message is not clear or deceitful then people will spread negative words about your brand which will ultimately reduce your sales, goodwill, and customer database. (Also, if you are a businessman or planning to launch your business, you can check out some of the best books for entrepreneurs)

Although I have already recommended the best books for marketers, I believe All Marketers Are Liars is a very short, impactful, and easily digestible book which should be read by everyone. 

If you want your brand to be the topic of the town, All Marketers Are Liars is the best book for you to start.