Book Review: “All Marketers Are Liars” by Seth Godin

This book by Seth Godin works because it “tells a story”. It’s about the power of marketing if your savvy enough to tell a story and be authentic about it.

What Would you Pay for a cup of Coffee?
Think for a moment about your morning routine. When you walk into Starbucks for example, you are walking into the middle of a story. What is it? It’s that Starbucks feels, smells, and exudes comfort. The “barista’s” are all friendly (and many times remember your name and your special drink). Even the small fact that they are called “baristas” tells a story. They don’t just pour coffee and fetch scones. They are actors helping tell you a story.

The big chairs and wi-fi access, the fireplace, and the friendly people are all there to tell a story….and it’s not, “our coffee beats all others in blind taste tests”. In many ways, the coffee is only a small, well placed treat in the bigger context of the story you walked into. Why else would people pay $4.00 for a $.038 cup of coffee?

Mickey Mouse Punched Me in the Face
I have recently been smacked squarely in the face by the concept from Godin’s book…by Mickey Mouse. My family and I just returned from Disneyland in Southern California and I have to say I was shocked. I don’t want to over sell this point, but everything about Disney tells an authentic story to its customers. From the minute my family got on the bus (in the remote parking lot) to the moment we reached the Magic Kingdom, my 2 kids mouths were agape.

In the park, there were thousands upon thousands of patrons. Shockingly, nothing was out of character. Everything in the park, right down to the lamp posts told me a story. Disney understands this so well that all employees are considered “cast members” including the folks walking around picking up the trash. (An interesting note: I don’t recall seeing a shred of trash on the ground. At the same time, I don’t recall seeing more than 2 people cleaning anything up. How can that be? ) The result: my kids were transported to a place that truly “seemed” magical, right down to the last fireworks display over the castle as we left the park. For me, this was priceless.

The Value of Authentic Storytelling
No matter what business you are in, creating stories about you and your product or service is critical. I help organizations build software solutions. Even there, the value of selling “experiences” is critical. I will be trying much harder to craft stories (and teach storytelling) that help us give our customers a fantastic experience. I want to create raving fans for our service and storytelling can help. Godin does a fabulous job of distilling this concept to its essence. He helps you understand that you don’t have to be Walt Disney to see value in telling stories to your customers and the benefit of making it authentic. Every business has a chance to differentiate itself in this way.