All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin explains the importance of storytelling in modern marketing. It also teaches how stories are an integral part of our lives and why the marketers must learn the art of storytelling to dominate the market or even create a new one.
Who Should Read All Marketers Are Liars Summary, And Why?
If you’re a businessman, marketer, or someone who wishes to start a business someday, you should definitely give this a shot.
This book explains why marketers must be good storytellers.
It also teaches why marketers or brands should sell through real stories that people already believe in.
All Marketers Are Liars Summary
Marketing is a crucial part of any business.
And if you own one, you must learn how to do it right.
So tighten your seatbelts, as you are about to go on a thrilling ride that will teach you how and why you should do marketing through stories.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
What Is Marketing?
Marketing is spreading of ideas or stories to your customers.
People generally use marketing to sell their products or services. But marketing has rapidly changed since the last decade.
Earlier, people used to send people junk emails, showed fancy tv commercials, etc.
But now, people easily see through such marketing gimmicks.
What Marketing Is Not?
Some bad marketers still believe in the old marketing techniques.
But lies and deceptions that worked earlier have lost their power.
For example, lying through big tv commercials has become a thing of the past. Many marketers still use it, but it doesn’t give satisfactory results in the long-term.
Modern marketing is about telling stories to the people and living them for real. Today, it’s more about building trust and being authentic with the consumer. (More on this later..)
Has Marketing Lost Its Significance?
Although marketing has changed a lot, it hasn’t lost its significance.
And according to Seth, it’s more potent than it has ever been before.
For example, people still buy products no matter what the medium. And this only proves that marketing works. Because if it didn’t, people wouldn’t buy.
Yes, there are many factors that influence the purchasing decision of a consumer, but marketing has its role.
The problem is: most marketers get it wrong.
And the worst part:
Marketing has become even more competitive today.
Amid all the noise and distractions, it’s become hard to tell your story to your customers.
Keep reading to learn how to do marketing the right way.
Stories Are Everywhere
Before you proceed further, you must know what “stories” mean in this summary.
These “stories” consist of all the conversations you do with yourself, your friends, and the brands.
Since this book is about marketing, we’ve to consider the stories that brands tell you and the stories you perceive. And yeah, they are both different.
Stories are an integral part of our lives. (No matter how much we ignore them.)
Everyone Is A Liar
According to Seth, everyone is a liar.
Why does Seth say this?
It’s because we all tell stories and live in them.
For instance, when we fail to interpret data, we make a story about it that gives a conclusion.
Another example, when we don’t want to tell the truth, we lie about it and make a story that sounds real.
Likewise, brands make stories about their products. They tell you that you, too, can get a beautiful life if you use their products.
Why do you think people buy Puma shoes? Are they worth that cost? Is there a big difference between regular shoes and Puma shoes?
Why do you think people spend crazy money over some premium products and hate buying cheap products? Is it really about quality?
And yes, even you and I are liars. That’s true.
We even trick ourselves by telling stories.
What you are reading right now is a story too. Seth has told us all a story. Look how it fits into your story.
Stay hooked onto this summary to unravel the answers to the above questions.
Stories Existed Even When There Were No Marketers
Stories have already been on this planet since civilization.
For example, when people noticed the sun, moon, and stars, they made stories about them.
If there were no space and planets, the Star Wars movie wouldn’t exist today. People make stories about things around them and the things they can visualize and dream about.
What does this mean?
This means that as a marketer, you can’t ignore stories.
If you want to establish yourself among your customers, you have to build a story around your brand.
Because stories are something that people can easily relate with.
Consumers Buy What They Want
Often consumers act in irrational ways. And they don’t buy as per their need.
Here is what you must know:
“Consumers buy what they want, not what they need.“
Well, the above sentence isn’t always right, but it’s true most of the time.
Why do you think people buy massive villas to live in? Can’t they live in a decent house?
It’s all because people tell themselves stories and convince themselves why they need to buy something (even if they don’t need it.)
People believe in specific stories because they want to accept them. Not because they are right.
Georg Riedel was able to sell the idea that his glasses improved the taste of wine.
But later studies showed that it was just a lie, the glasses didn’t have any effect on the taste of the wine.
The interesting thing is:
When the customers were asked about the same, they replied in affirmation.
Now, what made those customers think that those glasses were special when they were not?
The answer is simple:
People believe what they want to believe.
Riedel’s loyal customers firmly believed in the story Riedel sold them.
Tell Stories Worth Telling
Most businesses struggle today because they focus more on the production part, not on the storytelling part.
Here is how the old curve of making stuff looks like:
Note: The above curve and the one used later are power curves, so ignore the sharp corners, and think of them as curves.
Earlier, a factory could make enough profits by churning out quality products and selling them at a low price.
But today, this strategy can be copied easily.
With the advancement of technology, manufacturing has become much more manageable.
Instead of doing this, companies should focus more on creating a product that has a story worth telling.
This doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t focus on manufacturing.
The point is:
Instead of thinking of themselves as a production machine, brands should think of themselves as a part of the consumers’ story.
And then find a product that perfectly fits in the story of the consumer.
Now, the new curve of making stuff looks something like this:
As you can see from the above diagram, the value of storytelling is more today when compared to production.
Companies shouldn’t stop focusing on invention and production; they’re a crucial part of any business.
But these days, it’s more about how you give the right message to the right customers through stories.
Trust Helps In Selling Stories
A lot of marketers sometimes try to deceive their customers by giving false information to their customers. If you are one of them, then you should definitely stop this approach.
It’s because trust is what fuels your business; it’s not all about profits.
And trust takes years to build. Also, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to build it.
Once a customer loses trust in a brand, he never buys from that brand again.
And as Seth says in this book: you’ve to make people believe in your stories.
Unless the customer trusts you or your brand, he won’t ever come in terms with your story or idea.
If you want to thrive as a marketer, you must put trust above everything in your business and be authentic.
Everyone Has A Different Perception
We all have similar features, and yet we all aren’t the same.
Every person has his own set of glasses through which he sees the world.
Note: This was discussed in detail in The 7 Habits Of Highly People Summary. But if you don’t want to read it, that’s perfectly fine. No hard feelings.
Stephen Covey says this differently: he says that we all have different paradigms.
Let me elaborate on this.
Let’s say, “Apple.”
What comes to your mind first?
You might think of the brand Apple. Or you might imagine the fruit “Apple.”
Look how a simple word can have two different meanings.
Now try to conceive how different scriptures, places, and dynamic events could shape an individual’s perception.
Two people under the same environment or situation might have an opposite viewpoint.
A marketer must consider these varying perceptions.
Great Stories Appeal To A Few
You can’t please everyone. That’s because there is nothing on this planet that is perfect.
Even we aren’t perfect.
How can we even create a perfect product for imperfect human beings?
Likewise, there isn’t a perfect story that every person would believe.
As we discussed earlier, everybody has a different perception, so each story is viewed from a different glass.
The takeaway here is:
Don’t try to impress everyone. Because if you try to impress everyone, you’ll impress no one.
Great Stories Sync With The Worldview Of The Customer
So by now, you know that people have different perceptions or worldviews.
There are two ways to market “stories” to the consumers:
- First, you try to change their worldview to fit your story.
- Second, you create a story that fits their worldview.
I’ll discuss both the pros and cons of each strategy.
So keep reading.
#1 First Strategy
The problem with this strategy is that it takes a hell lot of effort.
Also, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to change the worldview of your customers.
Customers make beliefs that are hard to crack.
And that’s why it’s incredibly challenging to challenge them and make a place for a new story within their minds.
What you think as a marketer and what your customers feel can be drastically different.
Implementing this strategy isn’t impossible, but it’s a tough nut to crack.
It’s hard to be heard in a lot of noise.
It’s like screaming your lungs out at a place where thousands of people are already shouting.
Again, you might have an entirely different opinion in this regard.
#2 Second Strategy
This strategy is the opposite of the first strategy we just talked about.
Instead of focusing on changing the consumer’s beliefs, we focus on crafting a story tailored to the consumer or customer’s opinions.
You must try to find a story that syncs with the worldview of the customer.
Seth suggests finding a niche or a small market that shares common beliefs and has unfulfilled needs.
Then make a product that satisfies the wants and desires of that small market.
After that, tell a story that they would believe in.
That way, your story will be heard only by those who desperately want to listen to it.
Those small numbers of people will welcome your story and let the word out about your products or services.
For example, if your company sells insurance plans, you shouldn’t try to force those schemes of yours down people’s throat.
Find people who understand why taking insurance is necessary. Tell them stories of how life-insurance helped thousands of families after tragic events.
Find a common frame that your customers share with you.
Look out for people who desperately need your service.
Research what do they desire. Are they looking for safety? Are they looking for comfort?
Make them believe in your mission and vision.
Sell your stories to them.
But remember that it’s up to you how you sell and be authentic at the same time, which is also the next point.
You Can’t Fool Your Customers
Often marketers get full of themselves and think that they are the smart ones who know how to sell.
But the truth is:
Customers are way smarter than you might think.
You can’t trick customers through fake advertisements.
That time has long gone.
Now customers read or watch at least 2-3 reviews online before they make any purchase.
These days, it’s incredibly hard to force your story on people.
People have so many options to choose from.
The worse thing that can happen is that your customers might ignore you.
So be legit and authentic.
Stories Can Turn Small Groups Into A Mass-Market
There are so many small markets that are ignored by the giants.
The best part:
You can target these small markets and sell them your stories and ideas.
When the small markets are nurtured through stories, those people become your loyal fans and craft more stories for you; they tell stories about your company or brand to other potential customers.
Sooner or later, those small groups turn into a vast market.
Now think if you would have done the things another way, by finding mass-market first and then nurture them through stories? Would it work?
I don’t know. But one thing is sure it would suffer from varying perceptions of people.
And it’d be way tougher at first.
You’re Not In Charge
Although it looks like that you can move the world by sharing stories with the people.
But believe me, even if you do everything right, you can’t fully control the way people think.
That means you are not in charge here. It’s fine. Try not to bother too much about it.
Stop Being Rational All The Time
It’s good to have a rational approach.
But this doesn’t help all the time.
If you look at your customers, they aren’t rational always, most of the time, they act on impulses or intuition.
So you must try to look emotionally too.
Be empathetic with your customers.
Try not to apply logic every time you build a new strategy.
Imagine how people would respond to your stories.
People Only Pay Attention To Change
The way we see and respond to change is pretty much like frogs.
A frog only responds to the change in his environment.
In the same fashion, we only notice things that are different from what we are used to seeing.
Why do you think people now hardly pay attention to tv commercials?
That’s because people have become used to seeing those advertisements.
Talking about me, I have kind of become an expert in ignoring crappy advertisements.
And I guess you must have too.
If we transfer this same idea to marketing, we can see that people only pay attention to new stories that circulate in the market.
For instance, whenever there is a new technology, it gets everybody’s attention.
What can you learn from this?
Try to be different.
Don’t tell the same stories your competitors are telling.
Tell your stories with a unique angle or create an entirely new one, if possible.
The Key Takeaways From “All Marketers Are Liars”
Learn more key insights from Seth Godin on Blinkist
- Why marketers shouldn’t cross the fine line between fibs and trends?
- Why marketer should use only authentic stories?
- How you should tailor your stories?
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All Marketers Are Liars Quotes
Here are 5 quotes that I liked in this book:
“All marketers are storytellers. Only the losers are liars.”—Seth Godin
“Marketers didn’t invent storytelling. They just perfected it.”
“Marketers profit because consumers buy what they want, not what they need.”—Seth Godin
“If you’ve got an idea to spread, you’re now a marketer.”—Seth Godin
“The best marketers are artists. They realize that whatever is being sold is being purchased because it creates an emotional want, not because it fills a simple need.”—Seth Godin
All Marketers Are Liars Review
This was my first time reading Seth Godin’s book.
And I loved it so much so that I find myself reading this book over and over again.
There is so much in this book that you could learn and apply in your business.
Earlier, I had heard that stories are the future, and marketing is about spreading your ideas to your prospects.
But after reading this book, I have a clear idea of how to actually implement it.
That’s because it’s always better to understand things before you do them.
For instance, if you want to change your habits, you have to learn how they work in the first place.
You should definitely read this book at least once.
Why? Because even if you aren’t a marketer, you must know how not to be sold.
- Check Seth's Personal Blog
There, he publishes articles on a daily basis.
- Learn more about Seth Godin on Wikipedia
Read related summary:
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