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All Marketers are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works--and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All Paperback – April 24, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Advertising's fundamental theorem-that perception trumps reality-informs this dubious marketing primer. Journalist and marketing guru Godin, author of Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, contends that, in an age when consumers are motivated by irrational wants instead of objective needs and "there is almost no connection between what is actually there and what we believe," presenting stolid factual information about a product is a losing strategy. Instead, marketers should tell "great stories" about their products that pander to consumers' self-regard and worldview. Examples include expensive wine glasses that purport to improve the taste of wine, despite scientific proof to the contrary; Baby Einstein videotapes that are "useless for babies but...satisfy a real desire for their parents"; and organic marketing schemes, which amount to "telling ourselves a complex lie about food, the environment and the safety of our families." Because consumers prefer fantasy to the truth, the marketer's duty is to be "authentic" rather than honest, to "live the lie, fully and completely" so that "all the details line up"-that is, to make their falsehoods convincing rather than transparent. Troubled by the cynicism of his own argument, Godin draws a line at deceptions that actually kill people, like marketing infant formula in the Third World, and elaborates a murky distinction between "fibs" that "make the thing itself more effective or enjoyable" and "frauds" that are "solely for the selfish benefit of the marketer." To illustrate his preferred approach to marketing, the author relates a grab bag of case studies, heavy on emotionally compelling pitches and seamless subliminal impressions. Readers will likely find the book's practical advice as rudderless as its ethical principles.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Praise for Seth Godin:
"Godin...is uniquely respected for his understanding of the Internet, and his essays and opinions are widely read and quoted on and off."
"It's easy to see why people pay to hear what he has to say."
"If Seth Godin didn't exist we'd need to invent him."
—Alan Webber, founder, Fast Company
"If your idea, or issue, or candidate, or product isn't catching on, you haven't been reading Seth Godin."
—Micah Sifry, cofounder, Personal Democracy Forum
"Godin is endlessly curious, opinionated, and knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects. He is a relentless marketer…and also a clear-eyed visionary."
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Extremely significant is Godin's definition of the "great story."
"... A Great story is true."
"Great Stories make a promise."
Great stories are trusted."
"Great stories are subtle..."
These four sentences define the scope. It' s not easy to reach by any marketer. And, consumers need to understand their own behavior better to "... Know Your (their) power." If consumers "demand" that marketers align their products with worthy goals, the world can move toward a better direction very quickly.
I wished more marketers would read Godin's warning
"It seems like an easy out. Figure out some internally approved story that you can trot out to the sales force and use in a magazine ad, and you're set.
Actually, if you do that, you're dead..."
I am always baffled how many stories which are trying to sell an expensive program begin with the story of some character, who is completely broke and has also maxed out his credit cards, but THEN borrows money to buy this program and ends up being a millionaire twelve months later. Ha!
Godin offers hundreds of interesting example, each one with valuable information whether you work in the particular industry or buy these products, or not. Marketing today is an ever more rapidly evolving process, and good marketing people learn cross industries. Even Steve Jobs learned from Nike.
Finally, Godin hones down on what every consumer should think about before swiping the card: "The lie a consumer tells himself is the nucleus in the center of any successful marketing effort."
This book is highly recommended. In fact, it should be a must-read book for any HS-senior, to be read again five years later.
Gisela Hausmann, author of the "naked (meaning no-fluff) books
If you have a background in business, it likely that you will find this less than exemplary in relevant information. If you are new to business and marketing, this is a great way to introduce and start thinking around the topics in creative ways.
1. Pick a traditional and well accepted marketing concept
2. Write about it from a totally new perspective
3. Make the book easy to read and include a lot of examples
4. Give the book an intriguing title
5. Sell a lot of books
In 'Purple Cow' the basic concept was differentiation (nothing new in itself, after all, people had been talking about positioning and unique selling propositions for decades). In 'All Marketers are Liars' Seth's premise is based on these two well established marketing concepts:
a) It is harder to make something and then try to sell it, than it is to first find out what people want and then give it to them.
b) It is very difficult (and expensive) to try to change people's perception once it is already formed.
The new 'angle' being explored, though, is that most of the time those perceptions are based on emotions that go against objective facts. The recipe for successful marketing, says Godin, is to find a large enough group of people with a particular world view, and offer them a product that caters and reinforces that world view.
Judging by some reader reviews, some people seem to have taken offense to Seth's thesis, implying that it encourages dishonesty in marketing. I don't subscribe to that point of view. Giving people exactly what they want, even though objective facts suggest that they should want something else is not being dishonest.
To illustrate Seth's thesis I'll give you an example: suppose that you have two identical watches, one of them is made in Switzerland and the other one is made in China. If you ask people which one is better, I bet that nine out of ten will answer `the Swiss watch'.
The objective of the Swiss watch maker is to sell watches. Are they supposed to go around telling everybody that the Chinese watch is as good as theirs? Of course not. The Swiss watch maker's advertising will most likely make extensive use of marketing signals that reinforce the world view of the nine people who picked the Swiss watch: their magazine ads will probably display pictures of their watch with a backdrop of a quaint Swiss village surrounded by the Alps and the Swiss cross prominently displayed somewhere on the page.
Now, if the Swiss watch maker decided to relocate their manufacturing plant to China and continued to use the same marketing signals in their advertising their customers would cry foul. If they also intentionally and openly lied about the country of origin of the watch they would be committing fraud. Seth Godin voices a strong opinion against these two scenarios, the first one because it would be "unauthentic" and the second one because it would be outright illegal and unethical.
'All Marketers are Liars' is a quick and entertaining read (you can probably breeze through it from cover to cover on your average plane ride) and it will leave you with a valuable takeaway on which to base your marketing strategy.