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 All marketers are liars

This book “All marketers are liars” was a written by Seth Godin.

All marketers tell stories. Stories that, if they’re well told, are very credible. Thanks to these marketers, no one doubts that wine is better in Riedel cups costing $20 each than in regular glasses sold by the dozen. That a $75,000 Porsche Cayenne is far superior to a $50,000 Volkswagen Touareg, even if it’s basically the same car. That Puma shoes paid $200 are much more comfortable than regular $65 shoes.

Why do these stories seem so true when they are made up? Simply because they are exactly what people were already thinking. They are not based on facts, but on convictions. That’s why consumers don’t hesitate to share them with their friends, who also believe them.

It’s the art of the new marketer to create these stories. How do you do it? By following the 4 key steps revealed here by Seth Godin, who doesn’t give a damn: consumers don’t need your products, but they need what they want to say. And they’re willing to pay for it.


Marketers must abandon any attempt to communicate nothing but the facts, and must instead focus on what people believe and then work to tell them stories that add to their worldview.

Either you’re going to tell stories that spread, or you will become irrelevant.

Stories make it easier to understand the world. Stories are the only way we know to spread an idea. Marketers didn’t invent storytelling. They just perfected it

You’re a liar

Everyone is a liar. We tell ourselves stories because we’re superstitious. Consumers are used to telling stories to themselves and telling stories to each other, and it’s just natural to buy stuff from someone who’s telling us a story. People can’t handle the truth.

And marketers are a special kind of liar. Marketers lie to consumers because consumers demand it. Marketers tell the stories, and consumers believe them.

It doesn’t really matter that the $80,000 Porsche Cayenne and the $36,000 VW Touareg are virtually the same vehicle, made in the same factory. The facts are irrelevant. In the short run, it doesn’t matter one bit whether something is actually better or faster or more efficient. What matters is what the consumer believes.

Telling a great story

A great story is true, it makes a promise, and they are trusted, subtle and happen fast. Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses. These great stories don’t contradict themselves and most of all, great stories agree with our worldview.

Marketers aren’t really liars

Marketers aren’t liars. They are just storytellers. It’s the consumers who are liars. Successful marketers are just the providers of stories that consumers choose to believe.

In fact, this is a book about the psychology of satisfaction. Seth Godin believes that people tell themselves stories and then work hard to make them true. In this sense, consumers are complicit in marketing. They believe stories. Without this belief, there is no marketing. He thinks that once people find a remarkable lie that will benefit them if it spreads; they selfishly tell the lie to others, embellishing it along the way.

The only way your story will be believed, the only way people will tell themselves the lie you are depending on and the only way your idea will spread is if you tell the truth. And you are telling the truth when you live the story you are telling—when it’s authentic.

Got marketing? Does marketing matter?

Marketing is about spreading ideas, and spreading ideas is the single most important output of our civilization. If you’ve got an idea to spread, you’re now a marketer.

During the golden age of television, companies with money could make money almost effortlessly. To grow your company, all you had to do was create a commercial that generated demand—and then make something to sell.

But it fell apart. Now, if you aren’t doing as well as you’d like, it’s probably because you’re acting like the golden age is still here. It’s not.

This is a book about the new kind of marketing. It’s about telling stories, not buying commercials.

How marketing works (when it works)

Here are the steps that people go through when they encounter successful marketing. The rest of this book is organized into sections built around each of these ideas:

Step 1: their worldview and frames got there before you did

Step 2: people only notice the new and then make a guess

Step 3: first impressions start the story

Step 4: great marketers tell stories we believe

Step 5: marketers with authenticity thrive

Success in most organizations

There are only two things that separate success from failure in most organizations today:

1. Invent stuff worth talking about.

2. Tell stories about what you’ve invented.

Make up great stories. That’s the new motto. The organizations that succeed realize that offering a remarkable product with a great story is more important and more profitable.


all marketers are liars



Step 1: Every consumer has a worldview that affects the product you want to sell. That worldview alters the way they interpret everything you say and do. Frame your story in terms of that worldview, and it will be heard.

Their worldview is the lens they use to determine whether or not they’re going to believe a story.

Don’t try to change someone’s worldview is the strategy smart marketers follow. Don’t try to use facts to prove your case and to insist that people change their biases. You don’t have enough time and you don’t have enough money. Instead, identify a population with a certain worldview, frame your story in terms of that worldview and you win.

Who we are affects what we see

Our worldview affects three things: our attention, our bias, and our vernacular.

If you’re unable to tack your idea onto a person’s worldview, then that idea will be ignored.

People don’t want to change their worldview. They like it, they embrace it and they want it to be reinforced.


People only notice stuff that’s new and different. And the moment they notice something new, they start making guesses about what to expect next.

Whether you create a product, market a service or run a nonprofit, you win when you spread your ideas. If your idea spreads from person to person, you’ll grow in influence and everything will get easier.

In other words, to tell a story, you need to know how the brain of the person who will listen to it works. Whatever your goal, you can only succeed if your idea spreads. An idea that spreads is a viral idea. If the consumers you care about know about your idea, you will win your bet.

The best marketing techniques, then, are the simple stories that are the most likely to break through, the most likely to be understood and the most likely to spread.

Recent research shows that our brains use four mechanisms to process the huge amount of information we receive every day:

Look for difference: When we are presented with a fact, we compare it to the norm. If there is nothing new, we ignore it.

Look for causation (coincidence): once something catches our attention, we try to understand how it could have happened. If a window bursts, we immediately look for the bullet that shattered it.

Use our prediction machine: we then make a prediction, guessing what will happen after the first event. If our prediction is confirmed, we no longer allow ourselves to be surprised by similar events and our brain retreats into its fortress, unaware of such stimuli.

Rely on cognitive dissonance: Once we have formed an idea of the situation, formulated a hypothesis about its causes, and made a prediction about its outcome, we cling to our beliefs and ignore as much as possible the data that contradict these beliefs, focusing our attention only on what confirms them.


Humans are able to make extremely sophisticated judgments in a fraction of a second. And once they’ve drawn that conclusion, they resist changing it.

Almost every important buying decision is made instantaneously. These snap decisions affect everything we do, and we’ll bend over backward to defend them later.

As we have seen, human beings cannot do without stories and spend their time inventing them: they build a theory from their observations and work tirelessly to refine it. And they do it quickly: it only takes a few seconds to make a final judgment on a retailer, a salesman, a book jacket or a TV show. This speed of judgment is particularly devastating when it comes to evaluating another human being.

The first snapshot

In Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant book Blink, he proves conclusively that humans make decisions on almost no data—and then stick with those decisions regardless of information that might prove them wrong.

We’ve already made up our minds and we’re going to look at everything that happens through the rose colored glasses we put on after that first meeting.

The only chance our ancestors had to survive in the jungle was to make accurate split-second assessments. And we inherited the ability to make accurate snap judgments. Similarly, as creatures with egos, though, we need to defend our decisions.

In order to survive the onslaught of choices, consumers make snap judgments. In a heartbeat, people take in the way a person looks and talks and smells and stands and dresses. They examine packaging and pricing.

The myth of the first impression

Knowing about our snap judgments, we risk falling into an obsession: that of producing a perfect first impression.

The problem is that in 99% of the cases, the first impression leaves no impression. We actually have no idea at all when that first impression is going to occur. Not the first contact, but the first impression. That’s why authenticity matters.

It doesn’t matter if the story we tell is entirely factual. If it is interesting and formulated according to his or her own world view, the consumer will take it on board and convince himself or herself of his or her own lie.

And this is where authenticity comes in, because we don’t know to what extent the consumer will or will not participate in the invention of a story that he or she will tell himself or herself.

If our signs and our location are cool, but our people and our products aren’t, the story we tell is not consistent. Only when the company, organization or person is authentic can we be sure that the story will be consistent enough to reach as many consumers as possible.

In short

1. Snap judgments are incredibly powerful.

2. Humans do everything they can to support those initial judgments.

3. They happen whether you want your prospects to make a quick judgment or not.

4. One of the ways people support snap judgments is by telling other people.

5. You never know which input is going to generate the first impression that matters.

6. Authentic organizations and people are far more likely to discover that the story they wish to tell is heard and believed and repeated.



Stories let us lie to ourselves. And those lies satisfy our desires. It’s the story, not the good or the service you actually sell, that pleases the consumer.

The truth is, consumers want to give the impression that they are rational, thoughtful and meticulous when shopping. Nothing could be further from the truth. They prefer stories. They are guided by them.

Stories only work because consumers buy what they don’t need. When an individual has a basic need (eating, drinking, and housing), he or she is primarily concerned with the product they buy or rent. If they are really hungry, they are much more concerned about the contents than the packaging of an item. Fortunately, it is quite rare for an individual to be really hungry in our society.

If consumers have everything they need, all they have to do is buy what they want. And if they do that, it’s to feel good.

Consumers attach a lot of importance to the buying process. They are concerned about packaging, the approval of their colleagues or friends, the opinions that will be generated by the use of their new product in their environment or in their company. They are concerned about where a product comes from and the conditions under which it was made. Once purchased, they are sincerely interested in its durability, but they are even more interested in the reactions of employees or those around them if it ceases to function.

There is a connection between the utility of a product or service and the way it makes a person feel.  A consumer shapes his desires based on what he’s heard about its utility from other people. He is excited to see a movie because the reviewer said it was good.

In addition, it’s not only the utility of the product that mainly shape people’s desires. That’s why you need ideas in this book. You’ll see that your product or service will sell better. Because you don’t buy what you sell. You buy what you want. And stories allow us to lie to ourselves, and our lies help us to serve our desires. It is the story, not the product or service you sell, that satisfies the consumer.


Before I tell someone a story, I tell that story to myself

The goal of any marketer is to create a purple cow, a product or experience so remarkable that people can only talk about it. The question is how to produce this rare commodity. The best way to do this is to craft a story that someone enjoys telling to himself. Before we are able to share a story with friends, colleagues or the Internet, we need to tell it to ourselves. If you can make your entire company revolve around telling a story, you’ll increase the chances of it being reported a hundredfold.

Every picture tells a story

Once fooled, a person will never repeat your story to someone else

If you’re authentic, then all the details will line up. Your menu will match your food, which will seamlessly integrate with your staff and your decor. If you commit to a story and live that story, the contradictions will disappear. Human beings are too intelligent to be fooled by a Potemkin village, facades, which distort reality. You can fool people once or twice, but once fooled, a consumer will never again tell your story to anyone.

If you are not authentic, you will get the benefit of just one sale, not a hundred. The cost of your deception is just too high.

All successful stories are the same

Remember, the best stories promise to fulfill the desires of the consumer’s worldview.

Here’s what they may have to offer:

A shortcut

A miracle


Social success

Safety and security

The valorization of the ego


The pleasure

A sense of belonging

They can also play on fear – by promising the consumer that he or she will be able to avoid the opposite of everything on the list.

Consumers are all different, but ultimately they all want the same outcome. They want to be promoted, to be popular, to be healthy, wealthy and wise. They want to be pleasantly surprised and honestly flattered.

But it is not enough to simply extol the merits of one’s product. Almost everyone wants to own a more powerful drill or buy muffins that are a little more nutritious. Nothing is more common than these desires; nothing should be more exceptional than your story.


What to do if you have competitors? How will your story compete with other stories in the marketplace?

The most important principle is this: you cannot succeed if you try to tell your competition’s story better than they can.

You have to have an original approach, precisely targeted to the segment you’re trying to reach, and not hesitate to create controversy.

Going to the edges: the title of this book

If a story is what leads to a lie the consumer believes, why not call this book perhaps the more factually correct All Marketers Tell Stories? Seth Godin was trying to go to the edges. He wanted to be excessive. No one would hate a book called All Marketers Tell Stories. And no one would disagree with it. No one would challenge him on it. No one would talk about it.

A talented marketer is someone who takes a story and expands it and sharpens it until it’s not true anymore (yet). Your goal should not (must not) be to create a story that is quick, involves no risks and is without controversy. Boredom will not help you grow. Don’t try to tell a story that’s safe and uncontroversial. Platitudes don’t get you very far.

Thank you for reading the summary of this book “all marketers are liars” by Seth Godin, people also read:

Never split the difference summary

Building a storybrand

Getting to yes summary

Crucial conversations summary

Exactly what to say – The magic words for influence and impact

Made to stick summary

Start with why summary

The way of the wolf


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