52 Books a Year: #5 - All Marketers Are Liars

Posted by Brian Tue, 25 Aug 2009 01:34:35 GMT

All Marketers Are Liars
By Seth Godin


The title of All Marketers Are Liars is designed to be inflammatory, but nobody would buy a book called All Marketers Tell Stories. Godin explains that in today’s world most consumers have their needs completely met. Instead of trying to convince people that they need something, you need to associate some sort of story or narrative to your product that makes the consumer feel good when buying it. This requires much more targeted marketing than in the past.

Godin highlights the the difference between little white lies that help to tell a story around a product, and harmful lies that hurt society. For example, Nestle in the 1970’s advertised in Africa that formula was better for babies than breastfeeding and gave away samples of their product. This led to the death of countless children when the samples ran out and the family could not afford to buy more. This ties in to his belief of the necessity of integrity in marketing, a point that I whole-heartedly agree with. This integrity needs to extend to the story you are telling and your effort at making it authentic as well. If the company is not striving to bring the story to fruition in every way possible the consumer will feel cheated and leave. He uses the example of Cold Stone Creamery, which sells ice cream at a premium price in return for a fun customer experience. One way this is done is by having the employees break into song, but at many stores it is obvious that the employees have been ordered to sing. It sounds like a forced funeral dirge and the story becomes inauthentic. This obviously does not harm society like Nestle, but it does harm the company’s image.

This is the only book on marketing I have ever read so chances are good that Godin is standing on the shoulders of giants in many cases, but he does pull everything together into a very readable, informative and entertaining book. It is a quick read and highly recommended.


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