“All Marketers Are Liars” by Seth Godin

“All Marketers Are Liars” by Seth Godin

A Book Review by Gary S. Smolker

Why do consumers buy?  How and why does good marketing really work?


All forward thinking business people seek insight into how to best market their goods and services.

The roots of business people’s and all mankind’s quest for self-improvement can be traced as far back as – and considerably beyond –  Christ’s admonition in the Sermon on the Mount, “Be you therefore perfect (Matthew 5:48).”

In “All Marketers Are Liars,” Seth Godin attempts to answer those eternal questions: (1) Why do consumers buy?  (2) How does good marketing work?  (3) Why does good marketing really work?

The underlying premise of the answer presented in Mr. Godin’s book is “stories make it easier to understand the world” and “people don’t buy facts, they buy stories.”

Mr. Godin claims successful marketing really works because:

  • Nobody buys facts.
  • People buy a story told by someone who has earned the credibility to tell that story.
  • Great marketers don’t talk about features or benefits. Instead, they tell a story we want to believe.
Mr. Godin is out of date, behind the times. The edition of “All Marketers are Liars” I am reviewing was published in 2009.

By April, 2009  an estimated 1.6 billion people were connected to the Internet.


We are in a technological marathon, an onslaught of new technology.

It is a mistake not to treat the Internet with urgency. For a business to ignore the Internet could amount to suicide by neglect.

It is currently estimated that there will soon be 2.5 billion people using the Internet.


The most successful company in the new economy is GOOGLE.

GOOGLE was incorporated and hired its first employee in 1998.

GOOGLE went public in 2004.

When it went public, GOOGLE produced more than 900 GOOGLE millionaires.

If the first 30 GOOGLE employees held their GOOGLE stock, by 2008 their GOOGLE stock would have been worth about $500 million; if the next 70 employees held their stock until 2008 each of them would own GOOGLE stock worth about $100 million.

By 2008 GOOGLE was receiving one million job applications per year, adding 150 new employees per week and employing about 20,000 employees.

More applicants are accepted by Harvard (about 7%) than are hired by GOOGLE (about 1%).


GOOGLE’S concept is “We deliver the world’s information with one click.”

GOOGLE’S founders believed if they built GOOGLE people would come.

When they founded GOOGLE , GOOGLE’S founders didn’t spend a penny to market GOOGLE. They didn’t have a penny.


GOOGLE’S founders attitude toward advertising was, “Advertising is like a rude stranger interrupting a conversation to sell you something you neither wanted nor needed.”

In October 2000, GOOGLE went into the advertising business by introducing an advertising program called AdWords.

Advertisers were allowed to purchase “key words.”  GOOGLE insisted that all advertisements be relevant to key words.

GOOGLE allowed advertisements to appear in 15% of all searches.  GOOGLE charges advertisers only if a user clicks on the text of an ad.

GOOGLE discards ads that don’t attract clicks or are not deemed relevant to users as information.

In 2003, GOOGLE introduced AdSense. AdSense put GOOGLE generated ads on Web sites and blogs that agreed to use the program.  AdSense became a way for Web sites and blogs to generate income.

GOOGLE’S founders said, “The ad results have to be better than the search results.”

According to GOOGLE: Recent studies show that people value the ads as an essential part of their search.


You have to capture the audience by capturing how they are engaged.

According to a 2007 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, nearly half of all Americans age 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure.

It took Microsoft 15 years to garner more than $1 billion in revenues.  It took Google just six years.

YouTube was started in February 2005.  By fall of 2006 it was attracting 34 million monthly viewers, and this number was soaring. YouTube was purchased by GOOGLE in October 2006 for $1.655 billion. At the time YouTube had a staff of 60 people.  Co-founder Chad Hurley was 29 years old.

The reason YouTube was persuaded to sell, said co-founder Chad Hurley, then 29 years old, was they feared YouTube lacked the resources to cope with its explosive growth. They were afraid their servers would go down.  Their marriage to GOOGLE meant more investment capital, more servers and computers, more brainpower.  They needed resources to scale the company.

Eric Schmidt, GOOGLE’S president, said that YouTube’s challenge was how to sell advertising. “If that works, it will seem like the birth of the CBS network in 1927.”

People are now spending their time on the Internet.

In 2008, 20 million unique visitors came each month to the New York Times Web site.

DoubleClick which GOOGLE purchased for $3.1 billion in April 2007, was at that time delivering 20 billion online advertisements each day.

Online is a new medium.

Mark Zuckenberg,the Founder of Facebook,  in 2007, when he was 22 years old , said “Facebook doubles in size every six months.”  In the summer of 2007, Facebook had more than 40 million active users.


In “All Marketers Are Liars,” Mr. Godin advises great stories sell products and services because:

  1. These stories engage the reader the moment the story clicks into place.
  2. They match the voice the consumer’s worldview was seeking.
  3. They sync right up with the consumer’s expectations.
  4. The best stories don’t teach people anything new.  They agree with what the audience already knows and make the audience feel smart.
  5. Humans are incapable of properly sorting every fact presented to them.  People can’t function without a story.
  6. People rely on stories to make decisions.
  7. Almost every important buying decision is made instantaneously.
  8. As creatures with egos, people need to defend their decisions.  So people skew their perceptions to match their first judgment.
  9. No marketing succeeds if it can’t find an audience that already wants to believe the story being told.
  10. Every successful company is successful because of the story it tells.

GOOGLE’S business proves that many consumers are looking for information, relevant information.

Mr. Godin advises if you don’t get noticed you’re invisible.

  1. Either the consumer is or is not ready to listen to your story.
  2. You either tell stories that spread or you become irrelevant.
  3. Only remarkable authentic stories have a chance of spreading.
  4. If your story is too small, it’s not a story, it’s just an annoying interruption.
  5. Your story must be remarkable enough to share with a friend.
  6. You must tell a story worth remembering that people care about, or your story disappears.
  7. You win when you make your story coherent.
  8. If you are able to live the story you want to tell, the people you are telling it to are more likely to believe it because you will get all the details right.  You must live your story in everything you do and say.

Mr. Godin does not advise how to find consumers who are ready to listen to your story or how to craft a story that consumers would be ready to hear.

Jay Abraham, in “The Sticking Point Solution” does advise how to find consumers who are ready to listen to your story and how to craft a story that consumers are ready to hear.

According to Mr. Godin you must make people feel good or better.  People buy things that get them promoted, that make them feel safe and secure or that give them a sense of belonging.

According to Mr. Abraham, you have to make a proposal consumers can’t refuse.  In “The Sticking Point Solution”, Mr. Abraham tells you how to do so.

In my opinion, in “All Marketers Are Liars”, Mr. Godin is politely telling us:

  • People are so insecure they can be talked into anything that promises to make them feel better.
  • Advertising seeks to make people feel small and then argues that the advertiser’s product or service is the best means of combating the consumer’s insecurity, and use of the advertiser’s product will solve the consumer’s problem and take away whatever fear and insecurity is addressed by the advertiser’s product or service.

Mr. Abraham’s discussion of the same topic in “The Sticking Point Solution” is much more interesting and helpful because Mr. Abraham provides us with more information than to be found in Mr. Godin’s book.

According to Mr. Abraham: Pain, fear or pleasure (in that order) gets people to take action, and their level of action will be proportional to their level of pain, fear or pleasure.  The brain’s tendency to avoid pain is about ten times greater than its tendency to seek out pleasure.

In “The Sticking Point Solution”, Mr. Abraham repeatedly reminds the reader:

  1. REMEMBER: People buy for their reasons not yours.
  2. Treat others the way they want to be treated.
  4. Show your prospects that you appreciate, understand, respect and empathize with their situation, problems, or desires.
  5. Every element of your message must resonate with their mindset, so that they feel you understand them better than any of your competitors do.
  6. You have to understand the problems that people are having, create a brilliant solution, and express both in well-defined ways.  It is about adding more real value and demonstrating clear understanding of what’s important to your buyer. That is the message you have to send.
  7. People need to feel valued and appreciated – and to be genuinely valued and appreciated.
  8. Tell customers what to do, why to do it, what benefits they can expect from taking action, and what dangers or penalties will result from delay.


Mr. Godin advises that you must tell a story your audience cares about.

Don’t water down your story.

The people with a worldview that gives them a bias to listen to you and believe you are your most valuable consumers on earth.

Mr. Abraham advises that

  1. You’ve got to see the connection between who your prospect or customer is and what you are selling.
  2. You have to be able to articulate your prospect’s problem better than your prospect has been able to.  This telegraphs to prospects that you acknowledge what they are dealing with.
  3. You make people feel special by being mindful of their needs.
  4. You have to identify a prospect’s pain, be specific, straightforward.  This will gain you trust in the marketplace.
  5. You have to tell the world with honesty and passion why you’re in the market you are in. Tell a story of origin, history, and purpose. Personal narratives provide explanations why you and/or your business do/does what you do — which, in turn, indicates why your clients and prospects should trust you.
To emphasize those points, Mr. Abraham quotes Isabel Allende , Christina Baldwin and William James:
  • You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not.”  — Isabel Allende
  • Words are how we think, story is how we link.  — Christina Baldwin
  • The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.  — William James


Mr. Godin emphasizes that first impressions count.

Mr. Godin warns that you never know what input is going to generate the first impression that matters.

Mr. Godin warns us that we have no idea when that first impression is going to occur.  Therefore, every point of contact matters.

Mr. Abraham advises that you can’t reach your goal until you define it.  First, you have to define what you want to accomplish. Then, inform potential clients that you can solve problems, fill voids, achieve opportunities and goals in a way that no other business can.  Your business will grown to the extent that you feel – and can articulate – the pain your clients and prospects feel. All you have to do is be the big thinker, the deal-maker, the strategist, and the visionary. It’s all about the end result.  Mr. Abraham calls this process “The Tom Sawyer School of Business.”


Success is a by-product of contribution.

Approach targets with empathy and respect.

Respect, acclaim, appreciate, and emphasize with what your targets are going through.

Put into words what your targets are feeling, struggling with, or desiring.

Show them that you feel what they are feeling – that you know what they want and have a clear, safe direct path to get it for them.

A truthful “I feel your pain” story can be an incredibly effective tool for connecting with your market.

The more honest you are, the more you will gain trust.


You will not get specific clear ideas from “All Marketers Are Liars” that will make you rich.

However, if you read “The Sticking Point Solution” by Jay Abraham  you will get many ideas that can make you rich.


You have got to see the connection between who your prospect is and what you are selling.

People are starved for intelligent conversation.

If you suppress your sense of the joy of life you will shrivel up and die like a flower in a drought.

Cicero advises us in De Oratore

  • An eloquent man must speak as to teach, to delight, and to persuade.
  • To teach is a necessity, to delight is a beauty, to persuade is a triumph.

Nicolas Boileau offered the following sage advice to poets in eighteenth century Paris: “In all you write observe with care and art to move the passions and incline the heart … The secret is, attention first to gain, to move our minds and then to entertain.”

The point made by Cicero and Boileau, and then repeated by Godin and Abraham is: members of an audience are won over when you successfully engage their emotions.

Good luck instilling fire and movement in the soul of your audience, and happy reading.


Gary S. Smolker

Copyright (c) 2011 by Gary S. Smolker

All Rights Reserved

About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at www.dudesguidetowomensshoes.com. I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail GSmolker@aol.com.

Posted on August 6, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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