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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]

Seth Godin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 24 2012
Seth Godin’s three essential questions for every marketer:
“What’s your story?”
“Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?”
“Is it true?”
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 is vastly superior to a $36,000 Volkswagen that’s virtually the same car. We believe that $125 sneakers make our feet feel better—and look cooler—than a $25 brand. And believing it makes it true.
As Seth Godin showed in this controversial book, great marketers don’t talk about features or even benefits. Instead, they tell a story—a story we want to believe, whether it’s factual or not. In a world where most people have an infinite number of choices and no time to make them, every organization is a marketer, and all marketing is about telling stories.
Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, or Fiji water, or the iPod.
But beware: If your stories are inauthentic, you cross the line from fib to fraud. Marketers fail when they are selfish and scurrilous, when they abuse the tools of their trade and make the world worse. That’s a lesson learned the hard way by telemarketers, cigarette companies, and sleazy politicians.
But for the rest of us, it’s time to embrace the power of the story. As Godin writes, “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.”

Frequently Bought Together

All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works--and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All + Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable--Includes new bonus chapter + Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers
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Product Description

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Seth Godin is the author of more than a dozen bestsellers that have changed the way people think about marketing, leadership, and change, including Permission Marketing, Purple Cow, All Marketers Are Liars, Small is the New Big, The Dip, Tribes, Linchpin, and Poke the Box. He is also the founder and CEO of and a very popular lecturer. He writes one of the most influential business blogs in the world at

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Laura De Giorgio TOP 100 REVIEWER
The ideas in this book are not new - they revolve around the core of successful marketing, around positioning and creating a story about your business that revolves what is at other times called a unique selling proposition, how is what you are selling different than the similar products by other sellers.

The book is ultimately about creating your story, not just verbally but through the whole experience a potential buyer has with you, your company and your products. In other for the story to work it has to be authentic.

We create stories all the time, both as buyers and as sellers and in every area of our lives - they are part of selling, advertising, seduction, court-room, healing, and any form of inter-personal relationships. In the TV series "Shark", the lawyers begins instruction of his assistants with the words "Truth is relative. Choose one that works." This is true in any area of our lives, including in marketing.

We meet someone and we begin to weave stories in our minds out of the information we have and the information we don't have we fill in with whatever seems appropriate to us. When we buy products we may buy stories offered by the company manufacturing the product or we may create our own, according to our own beliefs and experiences (or lack of experience with anything similar).

The seller may weave the story around selling a kefir that says Hunza people live healthy and long lives - over 100 years old - from eating kefir and the buyer may translate the story that if he were to eat kefit, he will also have a long life - never mind all the other differences in lifestyle of people who have long and healthy lives.
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The main concept of the book is advertising is not marketing and in order to get people to listen to your message you must tell authentic stories. Seth argues people make up lies for themselves when buying a product or service. Like Starbucks will make you part of a social elite or buying a frozen meal you make in the crock pot is the same as preparing a home-made dinner yourself. Godin says marketers need to propose these lies to match their target market's worldview. Basically you need to tell a compelling lie to the appropriate audience.

Of course Godin doesn't suggest marketers should really tell lies, but rather stories. The title comes from a strategy of using an oxymoron to describe a product or service, something that will stand out by creating an absurd juxtaposition in their mind.

If there is one large takeaway from this book its to create your story and ensure it's authentic. If you create a story about great customer service and then hire the cheapest labour and fail to train them, don't be surprised if your business falters because consumers who came in for one purchase saw the hype didn't match the experience and never came back.

I reviewed this book in more detail on my Web site: [...]
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As a veteran marketer for both the high end real-estate industry and E-commerce, we have to read every marketing book out there.

This book is probably the best


Because it cuts to the chase

All marketing is just storytelling, that's it. And that's all it really is. Even if you have an amazing product, you still have to tell a story about it, and in reality, the easiest people to convince are people who already believe a part of it.

Any marketer who fails to understand this, fails in general.

If we are talking about ad-words campaigns etc, and the world of catch-e-marketing, then the rules are a bit augmented, but the principle is still the same

And it will always be the same

Our world is an amalgamation of stories, worldviews and beliefs, and our current industrial model was created to manufacture wants and needs. If you have to convince someone they want or need something, they better believe the thread of the story you are appealing to them with.

A+ for Seth Godin, a must have in any marketers collection.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
All Marketers Are Liars is one of Seth Godin's better marketing books. If you have a choice between reading Purple Cow and All Marketers Are Liars, opt for this one.

The book is based on the observation that customers want to align with offerings and services that reinforce their positive self-images. I'm sure that idea isn't new to you. Otherwise, why would someone pay ten times as much for an item of frequently poor quality that has five cents worth of a brand image stitched into its front?

The book builds from these premises:

1. Don't waste your time trying to educate people about what their worldview should be or what your offerings are. Instead just slip into their preconceptions in a comfortable, authentic way.

2. You won't be noticed unless you fit into their worldview and seem to offer something new that they value.

3. An effective, authentic story can help you make a better and more lasting first impression.

4. Most of the future "experience" of your story will be assumed by customers who want to believe that you are what you say you are.

The book takes a little long to make those points. I found myself wishing this were a tightly edited article rather than a meandering book.

Part of Godin's "promise" to his fans is that he will "shake things up." As a result, the title is deliberately misleading to make people pick the book up . . . because ever customer has been lied to my a marketer or sales person. There's nothing new there. His "new" point for those who haven't studied marketing is that customers like a little sizzle with their steak.

If you know about the emotional value of a brand, this book is a waste of your time.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Marc
Wonderful, insightful with unique perspectives. Thank you Mo for these ideas. Many aha moments and realizations that are definitely worth spreading. Read more
Published 5 months ago by M. Haine
5.0 out of 5 stars seth godin does it again
this is a great book , seth writes in a plain spoken style that is not dry or boring , a ctually it is the opposite , everything is layed out in a clear manner but enough about... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Robert Thornhill
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect buy
I bought this book as used, and it came to me in mint condition, more than what I expected for it to be. I pretty much paid less for more with the quality that it was in. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Jem D.
4.0 out of 5 stars Marketing is Storytelling
If you're a marketer worth you share, you should already know that storytelling is central to your job; that good marketing means crafting a good story in all facets of the... Read more
Published on May 29 2011 by SBuckle
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
For a new to marketing like me, reading this book was an eye opener. In general though, it aligns with the current common belief(-opinion) that we, the humans, are 'wired up' such... Read more
Published on April 8 2010 by Petre Maierean
4.0 out of 5 stars Be authentically swayed
As previous reviews have stated, Godin's book weaves the need for an authentic and compelling story about your remarkable product or service. Read more
Published on March 1 2009 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good story
All marketers tell stories, and if they do it right, we believe them. But the interesting part is that by believing the story the story becomes true. Read more
Published on May 21 2005 by "tragiclad"
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