All Marketers are Liars

By: Jin Wang

When I saw the title of the book for the first time, I felt that it was very interesting. Although I know that many people think marketing is to lie to customers and to trick them to buy products, it is the first time for me to see an author being so straightforward to tell the readers that all marketers are liars.

Unlike the traditional textbooks, this book is not to teach the readers about product positioning, or the 4Ps. The author of this book also did not talk about boring marketing theories. Instead, he put forward a creative ideal: marketers should start communicating with their potential customers with an almost-true story that can arouse the customers’ interest in the products. Marketing people need to tell stories. A good story’s purpose is to win the trust of the listeners. Successful marketing people never simply talk about products’ features or the benefits of using the products. They tell stories that consumers are willing to believe. They are not trying to change the worldview of the consumers’, but instead they create their stories in accordance with the consumer’s worldview.

In other words, the author believes that in marketing strategies, the description about the products’ quality, characteristics and prices can not influence consumers and make them have the desire to purchase. The main factor that can influence customers’ decisions is whether or not the products are in line with the consumer’s worldview. Each product has a story behind it, and creating a good story plays an important role in the product selling process.

After stating the importance of the stories, the author then taught the readers how to create such stories. Firstly, marketers need to understand the consumer’s worldview, because the world outlook is relatively fixed and it is hard to change people’s worldview. But it is easy to find and meet the customers’ worldview. Just like the fact that it is difficult to force other people to accept your views by refuting your ideas, but it is easily to convince others to agree with you after acknowledging their opinions first. Meanwhile, the author of the book also emphasized that such stories are not  lies. A good story can make people recall personal experience that is similar to some parts of the story. Such connections can inspire consumers and awaken their curiosity about the products you want to promote.

In the book, the author described how Coca-Cola promoted their products during WWII as a example of such marketing stories. Due to the impact of the war, Coca-Cola had difficulties to expand their market both domestically and internationally. The company’s second president Robert Woodruff set a goal and promised that every American soldier can drink Coca-Cola whenever and wherever for only 5 cents. After the goal was set, Coca-Cola sent 248 people abroad with the army. This move helped Coca-Cola to expand their market to all over the world. The company also built  64 new factories during the war period. Coca-Cola noticed and made a good use of the fact that U.S. soldiers missed their normal life back home. The company’s right decision helped themselves to promote the products effectively during the war.

According to the author, if marketers still think they should advertise the features and benefits of using their products, they are probably wrong. And this book explains how the market shifted from fulfilling customers’ needs to giving products that they are curious about and eager to know. Customers have countless options to choose in the marketplace. And they have everything they want. They are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages a day. Marketers would not break through by yelling louder. The amount of information and the complexity of the marketplace have made it hard for marketers to communicate a product’s positioning in one sentence. So framing the right story for target customers can let the marketers explain effectively what they are promoting and what they can contribute to the customers’ lives.

This book explained the important role of stories in marketing strategies. Nowadays, when shopping, people care more about how they feel than what the products can actually do. As the book described, the reason behind buying a pair of Puma is to make oneself feel more confident but not for the quality of the shoes. Another example in the book was the Silk manufactures’ strategy. They put their products in the refrigerators of supermarkets not to keep the milk fresh but to make customers think that their products are fresh. It works very well. These are some examples of the power of effective story-telling in marketing.

In the book, the author emphasized that marketers are not liars, and they are just storytellers. Contrarily, the book argued that the consumers are liars as consumers lie to themselves every day about what they want to wear, where they want to live, and what they do at work. I agree with the author that successful marketers are just the providers of stories that consumers choose to believe.


Godin, Seth. “All marketers are liars.” New York: Portfolio (2005).

6 thoughts on “All Marketers are Liars

  1. Hechuan May 10, 2016 / 2:49 am

    This is a very interested article. I agree that all the marketers are “liars”. As part of marketers’ strategies, they have to pack their products and services and make them become more attractive. However, I disagree with that “consumers are liars as consumers lie to themselves every day about what they want to wear, where they want to live, and what they do at work” because most of the customers know very well what they really need before they go shopping.


  2. guskiewiczv May 11, 2016 / 2:55 am

    I agree that marketers are trying to tap into the consumers emotions and their beliefs, and that they are trying to get people to buy their story. It becomes a sort of competition, of who can tell the most convincing story to get their product to resonate the most with consumers on a personal level that ties into their worldview in order to sell their products. This is true for so many products that we see people buying into the story, I especially see this for cars. I feel like the majority of advertisements for cars are tied into some story or some great adventure like for Jeeps for example.


    • Kathy Makiver May 12, 2016 / 1:24 pm

      To your point, marketers utilize our emotions to influence purchasing behavior. Sometimes what is seen on an advertisement has nothing to even to do with a product!


  3. Maria May 11, 2016 / 3:14 pm

    “In other words, the author believes that in marketing strategies, the description about the products’ quality, characteristics and prices can not influence consumers and make them have the desire to purchase.”

    Consumers want to connect with the products they are going to buy; as you have said, consumers do not care about the quality, characteristics, or its features if it does not fall in line with that they believe in. For example, when it comes to phones, I enjoy having an iPhone; however, Mac computers – no matter how their quality, features, etc. are advertised, it does not fall in line with my perspective of what I want in a desktop or laptop.

    Companies try their hardest to tap into their consumers’ desires, trying to relate their products or services in a way that consumers will feel they need it because they see themselves using the products/services. For example, Toyota prides itself as having cars that are family friendly – such as the RAV4, Highlander, etc. When parents see Toyota commercials displaying families using their vehicles, the parents are going to relate the cars because they are in the same position as the family in the commercial. Other companies do similar things, as well!


  4. Jessica May 12, 2016 / 6:33 pm

    This was interesting article. While from one perspective marketers look like lairs, from another they are just trying to relate to their target audience. So while one individuals sees am item one way, another person sees it another. “One mans trash is another mans treasure. They may not be lying, they are just presenting information that may only be relatable or appealing to certain individuals.


    • Jane Walsh May 12, 2016 / 8:49 pm

      I agree with Jessica. Marketers are not liars so much as they are trying to capture their audience. Many people make purchases based off of their emotions, and that is a huge market to tap into. If it was completely ignored I know that I personally would make far fewer purchases.


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