All Marketers are Liars

October 4, 2010

In this book, Seth Godin makes the claim that all marketers are liars and all people are marketers. Whether you're marketing your personal skills at a job interview or your product in a commercial; the essentials of marketing are found in each action. Thus, for Godin to call all marketers liars is to call every person a liar. However, Godin qualifies what he means by lying. He says that there is a transaction taking place between marketer and consumer such that a consumer is not really buying a product. Instead, the consumer buys a story. The story told by the marketer says how this new product will put new hairs on your head or allow you to lose weight while sitting on the couch, but no matter what the product is, people are buying the story and not the product itself. Consumers buy that story and believe it when the product works. Consumers believe the story and buy the product or they do not believe it and do not buy the product.
Godin says that although one might see this as a pessimistic view, he takes an unusually optimistic view when framing his own story. He sees the consumer landscape full of customers who are untrusting but who really want to believe stories that match the way they see the world. Most consumers have had it with bad products, they have been screwed in the past and this has made them distrustful. But, Godin says that these products do not have a sustainable business plan because they are lying to consumers and by telling an inauthentic story. No matter how good a story you tell, if your product doesn’t live up to that story, your business will fail. This is the heart of Godin’s book, he believes that businesses get successful largely through word of mouth (or word of tweet) and this form of communication has the power to make or break a company. If you tell a great story and your product doesn’t fulfill your promise, people will spread information smashing your company, or will spread no information at all.
If, on the other hand, your company tells a great story and fulfills the promise exceptionally, then your company will thrive because people will talk about it. This is why the lies must be truthful, as Godin paradoxically claims. To be successful, the story you tell with every action of your company must be consistent. This consistency impresses people who have grown distrusting of companies. Thus, at Lawline what story are we telling to our customers? How can we make it more authentic and communicate that authenticity in every action we take? And finally, how do we create that unbelievable story people can’t help but share with everyone who will listen?

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