“All Marketers Are Liars” extrapolates the idea that a story of a product adds value to it. For example, a company who produces wine glasses claims that wine tastes better in their pricey glasses. Their customers who believe it really do think that the wine tastes better in those glasses. So the pricey glasses become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Godin argues that consumers want to be told stories so that they can use them to tell themselves the same stories. For instance, SUVs are far more dangerous than minivans, yet consumers prefer choosing to tell themselves stories that they’re safer.
Godin pleads that marketers must not use stories destructively, like when producers of infant formula told mothers that their formula was better than breastmilk.
“All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche Cayenne is vastly superior to a $36,000 VW Touareg, even if it is virtually the same car. We believe that $225 Pumas will make our feet feel better–and look cooler–than $20 no names. . . and believing it makes it true.”
One of my favorite parts of the books is when Godin shows the value of story in the book itself. He jokes that the book is actually being written by a ghostwriter. Now how does that make you feel about the value of the book? It’s still the same content, but the story of Seth Godin as a prominent thought leader is no longer associated with that content.
“All Marketers Are Liars” also gives clues to how to deconstruct the worlds that marketers have created:
While marketers tell us the story that we need a new car to impress our fellows, we can believe the story that our clunker car has endearing character.
While marketers tell us the story that we need to appear more attractive to be accepted, we can believe the story that our appearance has always been enough for the relationships we cherish.
While marketers tell us that we need their gizmo, training, or service to be happy, we can tell ourselves the story that happiness comes from our own thought habits.
Let’s audit the stories that are told to us, and tell our customers stories that create a better world.