How Marketing Lie Makes Wonders in Sales

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Daydreaming with Seth Godin – All Marketers Are Liars, part 4

This is the fourth part of daydreaming with discussions about Seth Godin‘s bestseller book “All marketers are liars”. Have a look at the previous part where Seth Godin justifies lie.

The table of contents of all discussions is here.

Disclaimer: Everything written is this post is not true, or better to say, it is a story. Please believe it or not on your own risk.

Ideas from Seth Godin's book "All Marketer Are liars", part 4

Take these secrets

Me: Listen, Raah. One part of me agrees with ideas that Seth Godin voices out. But it is kind of conditional agreement with him.

Raah: So you accept some lie, kind of conditional lie, don’t you?

Me: C’mon Raah, don’t be a smart aleck. Just let me go on to expand my thought.

Raah: Sure, man. Sorry.

Me: I say I like very much the idea of stories being told by marketers to people, but the condition is that I enjoy it as long as the stories accompany really good products. Also, it is fine if there is a number of the products which are very similar, so stories just add a little but distinguished value.

Raah: Yes, I know what you will say further. You will note that you can’t stand it when stories are told about not good product, making it seem as if it is the best product ever. You already told me this last time.

Me: Yes, this is what Seth preaches about – your products can be worse that others, but you will profit if you give people great stories. It is what they want, not what they need in fact. It is irrational, but it’s just how it is.

Raah: So what?

Me: I am emphasizing the importance of understanding difference between truth and stories. When stories and lie become the most important arguments in influencing our choice, it is a real disaster. I definitely think so. Just imagine, you buy or do something only because the marketing department of the producing company, or political party for example, has enough money to make a great promotion and make up attractive stories. Not good stuff compete, only stories compete – it’s awful!

Raah: But if the product is not good enough then a person will understand that and the product will not be successful on the market. So the world will keep a balance between good products and good stories.

Me: I would agree with you if not one “but” at least. The point is that it is much more profitable for everyone to make cheap and crappy products or services and make up great showing-off and surround it by sparkling stories, than to make a really good stuff. And all producers see it. In the world of limited resources they choose to spend more on showing off than on making a product better. I will repeat my idea in the formula – bad product plus great story is unfortunately more than great product plus bad story. And it is sad.

Raah: But people buy a package which includes a product and a story. They do not need just product.

Me: I agree, but isn’t it a detrimental path? When quality is not important anymore. Make it shine in the eyes of beholder and that’s it. Self-deception. And then neurosis. Not mentioning large-scale effect of fooling people and people fooling themselves.

Raah: Looks like a critique of capitalistic world.

Me: I would say the critique of consumerism on one hand and referring to Baudrillard’s Simulacras and Simulations on the other. Especially when it becomes so extreme that people, and Seth Godin in their lines, begin to preach what normally is really worth scaring.

Raah: Let me repeat the outcome of our previous talk. It is not about Seth personally, because he is just a conductor of what is already in the air. It is already around us. Seth just talks about it in his way.

Me: Yes, it is in the air. So you want to give up?

Raah: And you want to fight with reality?

Me: I want to alter it.

Raah: Good luck. I am sarcastic, you know. However, if you talk about it, then perhaps it is also in the air, and you are right that lie and stories go too far and they can destroy people’s peace of mind?

Me: I agree that the principle of lie can go too far and may have very detrimental consequences to our society. But it is not an easy problem. The question of people’s peace of mind does not seem so evident. If a person is mentally ill, but he or she thinks that they are kind of happy when they are told stories, do we have a right to stop telling them tales and tell them the truth instead and make them unhappy? Even if we believe that so we will cure people from their mental disease of self-deception?

Raah: That’s exactly what I see in Seth Godin’s words. People want stories, they want lie, they want to be told tales.

Me: Yes, and thus adult people are like children. It is quite symptomatic when people stop understanding where stories end. Of course, it is nice when people watch a great touching movie and cry with their bitter tears about the genius story of the movie. But people do understand that the movie is fake. But when they replace their real world with stories, what Seth Godin is speaking about in his book, it is like people are diving into a virtual tale for good. It is not good.

Raah: After all, stories let marketers increase their sales by delivering people what they demand.

Me: Alright, if you don’t want to talk about fundamental things like long-term consequences of telling people stories, then yes, you are right. Stories and lie are great means to increase sales and make people happier for some time. At least as long as you keep telling them good stories.

Raah: By the way, you promised to tell us about how lie and stories make wonders.

Me: Yes, I remember. It is about wonders in sales. For example, one guy made up a story that wine in his glasses is much tastier. And this worked. People love his expensive glasses, believing his story.

Raah: Good one. I don’t mind having such good wine glasses when they have such an interesting story.

Me: Well, it is pretty harmless story and I like it too. Another story is about the art of selling houses when a person sells not houses but rather their neighborhood and community.

Raah: I love this.

Me: Yes, me too. Considering neighborhood makes sense absolutely when considering buying a house.

Raah: Do you have more stories like that?

Me: Those two are my favorite. You may find more in Seth Godin’s book. And to call it a day I’ll tell you the list of quotes from Seth for today’s discussion
– Marketers profit because consumers buy what they want, not what they need.
– Needs are practical and objective, wants are irrational and subjective.
– The path to profitable growth is in satisfying wants, not needs.

to be continued. In the next session we will be talking about how Seth Godin defines truth, says about features, benefits and promises.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about needs and wants below. Do you think there should be a balance, or just do what people want to consume?

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