All Marketers Are Liars

Posted by dwallace on December 8, 2010 in Marketing, Seth Godin |

All marketers tell stories, not lies. Lies are too harsh of a word, but basically that’s what the stories are.

Seth Godin, a top marketing guru, explains how any organization, from Porsche to Pat Roberts, has framed a story that a slice of the world community buys into in order to sell their products. These organizations are not sitting behind a desk scheming on how to take over the world with insincere plots. These guys really believe in their product and their own story.

The VW Touareg costs $35,000 and according to Godin, is practically the same car as the Porsche Cayenne. Does it matter that the two cars are made in the same place and that the Porsche costs $45,000 more? Not to Porsche people.

People who buy into the Porsche story aren’t buying into the VW story. They don’t even want to hear about it. It doesn’t matter to them that the only true difference is a different ornament on the hood. The same is true for Toyota and Lexus people. They don’t want to be reminded that a Lexus is actually an overpriced Toyota.

How does a Riedel wine glass make your wine taste any better than a “regular” wine glass? The chemical make up of glass is exactly the same whether it’s a $2.00 glass or a $20.00 glass. But somehow we are led to believe that a Riedel glass is the best possible wine glass we can drink from. If you believe this, it’s because you buy into the story that Riedel has laid out—Wine tastes better from our glasses because we sculpt a glass around the character of the wine.
You wouldn’t be at fault for believing Riedel’s story. Even the industry’s top “expert” Robert Parker buys into the story.

“The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.” (Quelle: Robert M. Parker, Jr. The Wine Advocate)

Remember, gurus are self-constructed. They yell their story as loud as they can, for as long as they can, and eventually people start believing what they say is true. Gurus are master story tellers—Parker and Godin included.

Everything in marketing is how you frame your story. Is it believable? If you’re a marketer, do you believe in your own story? Because if not, Godin believes that the public will see right through you. Maybe not right away, but once the public realizes they’ve been had, your company will wash right down the drain. So if you decide you have something you want to sell, make sure that you buy into your own B.S.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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