This piece of writing was inspired by a book written by Seth Godin named “All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low Trust World.”
I’m sure you’re wondering “I really don’t understand, she is supposed to be one of them and she bombards us with this aggressive title”. That’s simple. I am lying to you – as well as Seth Godin when he named the title of the book (by his own admittance). But we get your attention, do we? The Truth is that Marketers aren’t liars. They are just storytellers – but “Marketers Are Good Storytellers” isn’t a very catchy title, is it?
Reminder: Need VS Want
As you well know, we’re in a product and service saturated market. Today buyers buy what they want and not what they need. Indeed, the “needs” are practical and objective in opposition to the “wants” which are totally irrational and subjective. Once we move beyond the simple satisfaction of needs, we move into the problematical satisfaction of wants. And wants are difficult to measure and rather hard to understand. Which makes Marketing the captivating exercise it is.
True Stories or Lies? It depends on you.
In the beginning, there was only the Story. Before Marketing, before Markets, and long before Companies, people started telling Stories to themselves and others. We looked around and noticed things. We invented Poseidon to explain why there are storms at sea sometimes, we started to create the perfect Love with the Charming Prince/Princess thanks to Fairytales, etc.
We tell stories to our family, our friends, our employees, and customers. Most of all, we tell stories to ourselves. We know we’re not telling ourselves the whole truth, but it works, so we embrace it. As we use to say: “some things are better left unsaid”. You know, many things – which seem to us true – are true because we believe them. I mean, we believe what we want to believe, and once we believe something, it becomes an absolute truth. If you think your manager is going to be tougher with you, then he/she will be. If you think that (more) expensive Champagne is better, then it is. It’s a piece of evidence.
Humans are Marketers, Marketers are Liars, so… We are all Liars. But Marketers are a special kind of liar. Marketers didn’t invent storytelling. They just perfected it. Marketers lie to consumers because consumers indirectly require it.
Some rules to be a good Liar
~Your (new) Brand Drug: Your customers ~
Let me ask you to think as consumer now:
You are in store. You are here to buy something that you need. Suddenly something – some unknown reasons – captures your attention. Maybe, because it captured attention, you give this new product/service a try. And if you like it, maybe you keep using it. And, finally, if this new product/service comes with an outstanding story that you can tell, you may just spread it.
Here is the reason why we need – as marketers – customers. Because they have the power to spread ideas, share their experiences and influence people on their purchases. Don’t forget that the word of mouth remains the most powerful method of human communication – so don’t overlook it.
~ “There are plenty of fish in the sea”: The quote to forget ~
Some marketers may be liars; some may be sincere; those who are the most successful blend integrity with a persuasive communication. Some marketers do it well. Others are rather bad at it. It can happen that the stories help someone get more done, enjoy Life (more), and even live longer. However, when the story isn’t sufficiently reliable, it doesn’t work. People are too clever to be fooled for long by a “Potemkin village”, a pretence that expect to be one thing and turns out to be another. Of course, you can fool some people once or twice, but here is a key lesson: Once fooled, a person will never repeat your story to someone else and the price of your inauthentic deception would turn out to be… just too high! Once marketers know this essential base, they would be well advised to play on customers’ imagination in order to create a Want.
~ Let the Mystery be ~
Surprising as it may seem, the less the marketer says, the more history gains power. Indeed the best Marketers know that this is the potential customer – and only the potential customer – who draws her/his own stories and convinces herself/himself of it. Thus it is more efficient to let her/him come to their own conclusion and to allow her/him the freedom to guess the rest of the story…
~ The myth of the exact science of Marketing ~
Marketers tend to forget that – even if they have money, a perfect strategy, the magic spell – Marketing is not an exact science. I mean customers decide to hear your story, choose to believe in it – or not. Nobody can plan it. It depends on various elements that you can’t control such the mood of you customers for instance. For your information we understand only 10% of how the human brain functions. We can’t deny that the margin of error is not high…. But all stories are worth trying…and living.
So, go tell a story. If it doesn’t resonate, tell another one. When you see that a story works, live it, make it reliable and then true. “All marketers are storytellers, only the losers are liars”.