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).