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All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin: Book Summary

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

For the longest time, one theory that really excites me is ‘Marketers are liars’.

We provide incorrect or exaggerated information to sell our products to consumers.

We persuade consumers in a way where they do not have any control over the purchase, and in a trance mode of sorts- they buy!


Personally, I have always rejected this theory and I had numerous reasons for the same.

But the book All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin has given me the perfect reasoning behind why marketers are called, liars.


Here’s my belief or rather defenses for the most common claims:

1. Marketers exaggerate thingsYes, they might but aren’t the consumers smart enough to make the best choice?


2. Marketers persuade- Yes, that’s a part of our job, we might push you towards a purchase, but are we the one’s swiping that card?

3. Marketers make fake claims- Oh even if we wanted to, there are numerous authorities to stop us from that!

Have you read about the recent ban on White Hat Jr. Ads?


So what is that answer, provided in this book that has given me the perfect explanation?


The book mentions- “Marketers lie to consumers because consumers demand it”.

What marketers are actually doing is, they aren’t lying- they are in fact telling stories- that consumers believe to be true.

The whole premise of the book lies in just this one sentence- ‘Consumers are used to telling stories to themselves as well as each other, and that is because, as a matter of fact- people cannot handle the truth’.


The book All Marketers are Liars promotes the ideology that no one buys fact, they buy stories!

This has also been highlighted as one of the most important parameters in the book Made to Stick.


And hence a marketer needs to know that consumers do not buy what they “need”, they buy what they “want”.

Needs are objective and rational, whereas wants are subjective and irrational.

The best line in this book that acted as an Aha moment was- “Consumers know their hot buttons better than any marketer knows them”.

It’s these one-liners that make me love every Seth Godin book!


You can check out my other blog posts from the books by this author- This is Marketing & Purple Cow.


So we know that telling stories is the way to go for a marketer to persuade a consumer, but what makes a great story?


So in this blog post, we talk about 8 attributes that make a great story for consumers to buy!

All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

A promise that the usage of the brand can provide.

This can be in the form of safety, money, or shortcuts!

Either of them work well, and let me explain this with the help of examples.

Put yourself in the shoes of a marketer who is promoting a life insurance policy.

Insurance as a category, concerning their communication, operates in three main verticals, namely- Safety, Fear, and Trust.

And in all these verticals, a promise is what the consumer is looking out for- a promise to provide safety to the family, a promise to protect, and a promise to not worry about the investment.


All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

I think this attribute should be renamed to ‘believable’ because it promotes the same.

As a marketer, you cannot tell the consumer a story that he/she doesn’t buy, it must be believable and personal at the same time.

As a consumer, I wouldn’t connect with someone or something that seems unrealistic- I would rather believe in a girl who is clumsy than belief in a girl for whom everything is perfect.

And hence the more trusted your stories seem, the better relation it can establish with your consumer.

Another part is the credibility here, as a marketer you cannot tell a story if you haven’t earned the credibility to do so!

Also Read: Play Bigger Book Summary
All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

‘In your face’ or ‘hard sell’ stories never sell.

In fact, as a marketer- the less you spell out, the better it is.

Don’t forget that in the end, as a marketer, you aren’t lying to the consumer but in fact the consumer is lying to him/herself.

So let the consumers make their own assumptions as per what suits them!

And these assumptions are more likely to convert that sale because it’s exactly what the consumers wish to believe!


All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

The first impression may not be the last one, but the first impression definitely creates a lasting effect.

It’s something that I refer to as the ‘hook’- bring in that hook as early as possible in your communication, and the rest of the content will be consumed naturally.

You are trying to match the expectations of the consumer- so the sooner a consumer feels ‘Hey, that’s someone like me’ the more likely they are to get engrossed in what you have to say.

All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

This one is my favorite!

Did you know that most of the consumer purchases revolve around psychological thinking as against working around practical benefits?

Check out my blog post on Brainfluence that explains this in detail.

What we are talking about is- do not give them a logical thought process.


All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

People are accustomed to ignoring.

And it’s only logical, given the overall bombardment that consumers face- hence aiming your communication to everyone is not going to fetch you the desired results.

Instead, make your target audience narrower.

Just appeal to a small set of consumers and then let them spread the word with like-minded people.


All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

You cannot have the right location for your restaurant but have the wrong menu.

You cannot sell luxury cars with the help of rejected salespersons.

Basically, what your story communicates- needs to be in sync with what your actual offering is.

And hence, it becomes extremely important to analyze what you claim.

The worst situation for a brand is getting a conversion and then being rejected for not living up to the claims.

That consumer is very unlikely to get back.


All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

Great stories do not go behind teaching people something new, they rather focus on better ways of doing the same things that they are already aware of.

The biggest mistake you can make is to show your consumer as someone who doesn’t know the right thing to do.

Instead, propagate that what the consumer is doing is perfectly ok but there is a better way to do it with your brand.

Conclusion:

It doesn’t take a lot to deliver great stories, now that you know exactly what it takes to make them.

You can go ahead and present a great story for your brand that’s bound to bring in the desired reaction from your consumer.

 

Also Read: Cashvertising: 17 foundational principles of consumer psychology

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