Can Be Marketing Lie Justified? Seth Godin Says Yes.

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Daydreaming with Seth Godin – All Marketers Are Liars, part 3

This is the third part of dreaming discussions about Seth Godin‘s bestseller book “All marketers are liars”. And there is a previous part where we discuss how Seth Godin attracted readers to his book by cheating. And here is the table of contents.

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 3

Take these secrets

Me: Hey Raah! You know when I was reading Seth Godin’s book I could not get rid of a bit nasty feeling that the guy justifies lie, or even he pushes people to lie.

Raah: Admit it, you are so disappointed because you don’t want people talking about it aloud as Seth did. And moreover, you don’t like it because he opens up a bit your own nature. Doesn’t he? In other words, you lie now and then, but you want no one to talk about it. Right?

Me: You want to catch me. No way. Look. Lying is not good as I have learned back from my childhood. This is all that my parents told me not to lie.

Raah: Not to lie to them. I know. You are better controlled if you don’t lie to them.

Me: It is not the point! Control is just a side effect, the point is to be a good person which means you don’t lie.

Raah: I see what you mean. But the life is some more complex. You just can not be sincere all the time with everyone.

Me: Agree. There should be a measure. There can me a lie that can be, for example. curing or harmlessly pleasant or even inspiring.

Raah: Hold it right here. What you have just said – harmlessly pleasant. So if a lie is a lie, and it does not do any harm and it is a nice or a fun, would you justify it?

Me: if it does no harm, then yes, It will be not a lie but just a fun story. Like Seth says, a story can make us enjoy our life and get us inspired.

Raah: That’s great then. Just think that Seth says about telling each other harmless stories that he calls lie for a better effect.

Me: I am afraid Seth Godin provokes lie regardless whether it is harmful or not. He says about marketers. He says “Consumers demand lie, and marketers just deliver what they want”. You know, there can be a difference – either I tell a story about the good consumer product, or I just lie about some crappy thing making as if it is the best stuff ever. The second option is what I hate.

Raah: I see very well what you mean. But there is another side of it. Look, in our world of consumerism we buy stories, not things. In fact you can live very well without most of those things, gadgets, whistles and bells. But people buy it because they are surrounded by stories told us my marketers.

Me: I admit, if people want to spend money on some almost useless stuff, then let them buy it. But the problem that is if I want a really good thing, I need to have a special feeling or knowledge to go through all those lying stories and find the really true pieces of information. And what is worse is that not the best products dominate the market but the products that has better stories or marketing budgets. That’s awful!

Raah: Agree. There are some drawbacks of a story-based market. But without stories the world would be a dull and boring. No one would want fancy gadgets because many of them would be almost useless without stories.

Me: That’s the point. The world does not need a thousand and one model of a mobile phone, for example. Make a dozen of models and that’s enough. I don’t like when Seth Godin says that people can’t handle the truth. I don’t like the idea that marketers should sing sweet songs hiding truth behind their stories. Otherwise, people get more and more manipulated like kids who are told stories when their parents want them to do something. After all, I believe that the focus should be not on consuming more and more stuff with sweet stories, but on something more genuine.

Raah: Like what?

Me: Well, just something more kind of useful or not that senseless as many products nowadays with really very low added value. I would want to have a clever choice, not dictated by advertisement and marketing stories. And also, I want people to be able to handle the truth.

Raah: I see, it makes sense. But look from the following perspective – the more genuine stuff, as you say, does also have its stories. And you want this genuine stuff because you have heard a compelling story about it one day and you believed it. Right?

Me: You try to catch me again, Raah. If the center of the world, or better to say, a paradigm, is marketing and allusive stories, then I would agree that everything is based on stories. But I would like to have a world that is based not on stories and provoking consumerism, but based on some other ideas.

Raah: Stop right there! Do you understand what you have just said? You said ‘other ideas’. But they are also stories. Whatever you mean under ‘other ideas’, don’t you see that you keep in mind just another story that you simply love more than consumerism?

Me: Hm, yes, you are right. Right… You have finally caught me… I admit it. But anyway. I am saying that I don’t like the idea of the world based on stories pushing consumerism forward. I want some other story to be in a corner stone of the world. For example, as I have already said, I wish people could handle the truth, but for now as Seth says and I agree with him, people avoid truth.

Raah: You just love another story or idea, call it whatever you want. And there is a conflict of ideas. Or stories. Holy war. Great.

Me: Right. I would not want to sink into details right now about different ideas of how the world should work. I would just emphasize that Seth Godin is just going along the tendency of consumerism and has his success by telling us the key points how the current marketing world works.

Raah: I am glad that you don’t accuse him anymore so abruptly. It is really nice to see that you find him now not as a driving force of consumerism and lie, but rather as a person who speaks out loud about the mechanics of contemporary market.

Me: Yes, thank you. I feel much netter now. But anyway, his story “All marketers are liars”, as far as I can see right now, does not want to improve the world where lie rules. Looks like he just wants to fit into it and teaches others how to fit into it.

Raah: And why should he go against the marketing system? Perhaps, you are wrong with the author. Choose another author and a book if you want. What is the problem?

Me: You are right. I mean I like to read Seth’s book and it makes me think. So that is the greatest result that the book can achieve for its readers. Thanks Seth for that.

Raah: Great. So what was in your list of wisdom from Seth Godin today?

Me: Three points. And two of them describe the contemporary market system and the state of our people’s mind that I’d like to change.

Raah: Come on, not again now. Just give me the list please. Thank you.

Me: Alright (both laughing). Here you go:
– Stories can make us enjoy our lives and get inspired
– Consumers demand lie (stories), and marketers just deliver what they want
– People can’t handle the truth

to be continued. In the next part we will be discussing examples how stories make wonders with people. Stay tuned!

And  Tell us in the comments below if you agree that people can’t handle the truth. Raah and I will be happy to read what you think.


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  1. Your always welcome Michael. This is really touchy words from Seth Godin. 🙂

  2. As a marketer you have to speak lie. Because if you truly follow that you honest and always speak truth than there is no space for you in the world of Marketing. There are many companies and who is not provide pure product/service yet. So, you have to speak bit of lie to the customer.

    • Bhavesh, I absolutely understand what you mean.
      However, the issue is not resolved simply by telling some lie.

      As Seth Godin suggests, you need to be authentic. To put it simply, your audience must not catch you on contradictions. And moreover, whatever you do and say, you should be a real helping hand to your audience (and not to pretend to be so).

      There is a line (although, not always a distinctive one) between those who really help people and those who skillfully pretend to do so.

      Marketers of the past used to deceive and push their audience to buy whatever they promote. These times are coming to the end.

      Marketers of the future need to be really useful, they need to be real helping hand to their audience. They need to be like a parent or a loving spouse, a close friend, a teacher and a doctor in one for their audience..

      Imagine, that your audience is your children. Would you suggest them using anything if it is not good enough for them? Once they find out that you deceived them, they will leave you and likely spread a bad word about you. Yes, you still can make money, but it is an old way, Consumers are sick and tired of marketing fluff.

      The future IMO is in more personal, more authentic and more responsible treatment of your audience if you want to play long-run.

      Telling them lie (or not truth) in this case becomes absolutely different.

      An example from a real life. Let’s say, my wife looks very tired or exhausted, and she asked me how she looks like. There is no much sense to tell her all the truth about how bad she looks like. I will tell her that she is very beautiful, but maybe something is not ok right now. I will lie in this case (because it is definitely that she is not ok), but this lie is for the better, because I will care of her and will do my best so that she looks great again and everything will be fine.

      The same approach is applied to business. Truthfully do care of your audience.

      Of course, there are nuances. For instance, what you can say individually face to face is a bit different from what you can say publicly. But the whole pattern is still the same – you need to truthfully care of your audience, and not to make an illusion of doing so.

      Thanks for your comment!

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