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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
Well, if it is such Seth, then surely You aren't the first marketer to spot this. Therefore, Seth Godin shouldn't take credit for revealing some of the powers of storytelling in marketing.
Other authors were there long before him (e.g. Laurence Vincent, John Simmons, Steve Denning, Christopher Locke, Dave Snowden), who managed to go deeper and further. Mind you though that their individual approaches are very different.
Much of what Godin calls storytelling are simply elements of marketing strategy (already well know to marketers) presented here in a new wrapping called "storytelling". But just because you say so, that doesn't make it so!
Where he writes "You can't out-Amazon Amazon" and "Make your story stand out from the competition", he is simply describing the importance of positioning, and similarly it isn't 'Rocket Science' when he says "Cheap is not marketing". Rather it is leaning up against men like Michael Porter who have been discussing the inherent dangers of price competition for decades.
He does however practice what he preaches. He tells a story that his customers want to believe. It is a pleasant though that success can be achieved simply by telling cute little stories. It is however not as simple as this, which is why I suggest you explore other authors too (See above).
A point I fully agree on is that: "You must aggressively go to the edges and tell a story that only you could tell." However, I don't feel that Godin has followed his own gospel in this case. The story he tells in "All Marketers are Liars" has to a wide extent already been told by a number of other skilful authors.
He still gets 3 stars from me, because I welcome any additions to the body of knowledge available about storytelling in marketing. I believe it is a powerful tool, and it deserves wider recognition.
The message Godin is delivering is really quite simple. Marketers should have a good story to tell; if it's a good enough story, consumers will repeat it, and that story has now become entrenched in our minds as "reality". Mission accomplished.
Successful marketers understand the importance of creating demand from telling a good story. However, as Godin warns, the stories had better be authentic; consumers in this day and age of social media are quick to spot the phonies. That's good news for the consumers; and should be good news for the creative marketers, who have good stories to tell. That probably explains why Twitter is becoming so popular; people like stories, especially short ones that are confined to 140 characters or less. Cutting to the chase has never been more important than it is today.
It should also be good news for Seth Godin, because his story is authentic, very witty, and most compelling. I highly recommend reading it for yourself; I honestly believe you won't be disappointed.