All Marketers are Liars

Seth Godin Book Review

Posted by Weston Lay on September 18, 2019

This book is all about understanding marketing. I love business and technology, but I find myself better at tech. Marketing is one of my big weaknesses for some reason and I wanted to figure out why. This book teaches the concepts of marketing from a different perspective and I think Seth is brilliant. If you are in the process of marketing a product or service than this book is for you. I might even argue that it's for everyone because you are technically always marketing yourself.

Marketing is about finding an existing worldview

This first point seemed unintuitive at first. I had always thought that marketing was the process of getting someone to believe what you had to say. This is very incorrect. Marketing is not about convincing people of something new, it's about reaffirming something they already believe and already want to believe.

The best businesses understand that you need to find a group of people with a certain view of the world and create a story within their window. Whatever your product is, find a group of people with a worldview that need your product. If you are a solar company, than you need to find people who already believe that "solar is better for the environment" or another worldview would be that "solar is the future. The point of marketing is to tell a story to the people that already believe these things. Trying to convince someone with the worldview of "solar is no better for the environment than fossil fuels" is like hitting a brick wall. It's much harder to convince someone to leave behind something they already believe.

Marketers tell stories people already want to believe

Once you find your customer's worldview, than you need to create a story surrounding that worldview. Nike tells a story to their customers every time you see an ad or walk into their store. The story is about quality and being cool. That's why hundreds of people can justify spending $100 on shoes because of how Nike makes them feel.

Many brands nowadays are catering to the worldview of "corporations should play a bigger part in helping the world." Because of this new worldview, more companies are donating to more charities and doing their part to assist the poor and needy. They do this because the customer worldview has changed, so they in part have to change their story. When a company tells you that if you buy from them a portion will go to feeding the homeless, it aligns with the worldview and tells you a story. That story is that YOU, the main character, are doing your part to help the homeless by buying from this company.

Customers don't mind fibs, but frauds get punished

The best example from the book on this point was when Seth talked about the Riedel glass company. Riedel introduced special wine glasses where each of the glasses was supposed to bring out the best quality in different wines. Riedel says that each bottle of wine tells a different story and the glass helps the drinker better understand that story. Is this a fib? Absolutely. Do customers care? Absolutely not. Scientists have proven that wine drank from Riedel glasses don't taste any different from any other glasses, but wine experts and wine lovers around the world swear the wine tastes better than drinking from normal wine glasses.

This fib is totally ok because the customers don't care that the glass doesn't really make the wine taste better, they believe it and because they believe it, it actually does. When a company gets caught in a fraud, the company will be punished. Going back to the example of feeding the homeless. If the company tells the story that they are donating to the homeless and then customers find out that they really haven't been donating, that would be fraud. The customer will likely never go back to that establishment again and they will tell everyone to avoid the place like the plague.

It's majorly important to be authentic when telling stories. If Riedel didn't truly believe that his glasses made the wine taste better than he wouldn't have been able to relay that believe to his customers. The point here is that whatever you tell your audience you need to be authentic and really believe what comes out of your mouth, because if you don't your customers will feel the inauthenticity.

Pros/Cons

I think Seth Godin is a genius and brilliant marketer. I think the pros to this book are many. It's a really good book for anyone that wants to understand what true marketing is. Marketing is not just paying for TV advertisements anymore. You really have to be authentic and be able to tell a good story, but telling stories is human nature so we all have the power within us to be good marketers.

The only con that I can think of is that the title of this book seemed a little extreme. I know that Seth addresses this in the book saying that he wanted to reach the fringes and appeal to people with a certain worldview (just like how his book suggests), so I totally understand it, but yeah that's pretty much the only con I can find. The rest of the book was brilliantly written and entertaining.

All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin

Conclusion

Overall, there are tons of lessons learned from this book especially coming from a poor marketer like myself. The principles are tangible and I can actually look at a product and ask myself "Ok, what worldview is this company trying to appeal to?" I can practice understanding the professional marketers with the concepts from this book. If you're new to marketing or if you're in the midst of trying to market a product or service I think this book is for you.

Other books like this one would be the Purple Cow by Seth Godin and all of his other books. I believe at the time of this writing he has five marketing related books. I think Seth stands above the crowd with his marketing knowledge and it definitely shows from his books. This book gets a ten out of ten because it's entertaining and there are practical points that I have been able to apply to my daily life to understand the concepts in the book better. From a non-marketing perspective, this book gave me a ton of insight into how marketing should work and how I can utilize it in the business world.

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