A dinosaur
a blog by Jarrett Retz

Book Review: All Marketers Are Liars (Tell Stories) by Seth Godin

March 19th, 2022

Lasting Impression

In All Marketers Are Liars, Seth Godin tells a story about why telling stories is so important. The title derives from the claim that people lie to themselves, intentionally or unintentionally, by telling a story to themselves based on a worldview that allows them to buy a product, vote for a politician, or perform other actions.

He has short and insightful things to say about marketing that, at the least, are amusing, and at the most, are revolutionary.

Some of my favorites were:

  • "Most marketing fails."
  • "Be less rational. Create emotional want. "
  • "The process of discovery is more powerful than being told the right answer--because of course there is no right answer, and because even if there were, the consumer wouldn't believe you!"
  • "We don't need what you sell, friend. We buy what we want."

Most marketing spiels I've heard in my life revolve around value:

  • create value
  • show the customer value
  • you must provide value
  • What's the value?

Marketers will try to rationalize their way to value. A good example is a car. Most people don't buy the rational vehicle—as a matter of fact, I believe Godin uses this example in the book—they buy the car that tells the story they believe in (whether it's rational or not).

The important part is telling the right story to the people that want to believe that story.

But don't forget to be authentic.


Seth Godin consistently talks about the importance of authenticity in a business and in marketing. Authenticity solves problems—more accurately—it doesn't create problems.

Essentially, Godin says, authenticity is the lifeblood, and without it, the story dies.

He proves this point brilliantly by confessing to the audience that he didn't write the book. Instead, he paid a freelancer to write it. I read that part thinking, "Oh my gosh, is this true?". I was already starting to feel betrayed, despite my suspicion he was making a point, but it didn't matter. I couldn't unthink the emotion that I may have bought a book not written by Seth Godin but instead by some paid imposter. And for important reasons, it was reassuring to find out that he (actually) wrote the book: authenticity matters.

Consumers know when someone, or something, isn't being authentic, and they don't forgive if they are betrayed.

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