Book cover art for All Marketers Are Liars
All Marketers Are Liars
Seth Godin

A really interesting book from one of my favourite authors and marketers. Successfully explains the realities of brand-driven marketing in the 21st century. Repetitive at times, could be shorter but luckily it's not too long either way.

  • The spread of Ideas is the most important function of civilisation. Marketing is about spreading ideas.
  • Once our needs are met, we focus on our wants. And wants are complicated. Wants are tricky.
  • It's important to focus on what people believe, then tell stories that fit in with that workflow. If we don't, we become irrelevant.
  • The way we feel is the product. Not the thing itself.
  • When it comes to building a brand, every sense matters. The writing, the photos, the design the sound the smell... and how they are ultimately combined.
  • First impressions start the story but they can happen at any time, whenever it is that they notice us. This is something that can't be planned for, we have to be ready for it to happen (and authentic) 24/7/365.
  • It doesn't matter if you're better, but it does matter that they believe.
  • The only way to be believed is to tell the truth.
  • Great stories, though, are true. They make a promise, they are trusted and they are subtle, they act fast, they hit our emotions.
  • Granola isn't healthy. At all. It's full of sugar and sat fats. Why did we decide that it was fine? Because here's the thing: consumers are complicit. If anything, they can often be the driving force.
  • Just making isn't hard anymore. Telling is. And always will be.
  • Many things are true not because they are, but simply because we believe them to be so. We fulfil the reality in our minds. If you think that more expensive wine will be better, then it is. (If you think Jesus will save you, then you are saved.)
  • We need to create stuff worth talking about, then tell stories about it!
  • You can always try to reframe the conversation, but don't try to change someone's worldview because it just won't work.
  • Want squirrels? Use acorns
  • If enough Customers believe the story, they can do the Marketing for you.
  • You are not in charge of the conversation. They are; it's happening in their heads already, long before you got there. Can you enter into it, and speak in the same language?
  • The Red Queen Paradox: the rules of the game changes when she makes a move. When others make moves, when others move the marketing story onwards, the rules of the game change again.
  • The four marketing failures: no one notices, they notice but they won't want to try, they try but don't keep using it, they use it but don't tell their friends.
  • Spending is about the spender. (Voting is about the voter, not the vote.)
  • World views expand with the economy and with possibilities. They can also contract.
  • People clump together into worldviews, over time.
  • Certain worldviews will propagate through Prestige Hierarchy structures over time.
  • Worldviews are more about tiny issues than they are big ones. 'I believe coffee should be high quality, and I'm prepared to pay more' rather than 'we should do something about the whales'.
  • Pivot to new worldviews as fast as possible, especially if you can see them emerging
  • It's important to fire your bad customers
  • Attention, Bias, Vernacular: get their Attention, play in to their biases, talk in the same language (with Copy, Design and Imagery)
  • Stop focusing on the middle of the bell curve, look to people at the edges for the real action.
  • Successful marketers are artists, not scientists. They focus more on the want, not the need.
  • With brands, we expect something to occur...and we make it so. 'This pen will make be a better writer because x!' Lo and behold... it does.
  • Authenticity is more important than getting noticed.
  • 'Proof' doesn't make the sale. Belief does. Hint at the facts, don't just say them outright. Make them feel.
  • Most buying decisions are made instantaneously. We sometimes take time to say it out loud and we end up justifying it after the fact, but most of the time it's already been made.
  • There is an onslaught of choice in our world. Snap decisions help us to overcome and survive this, even if the data tells us something else.
  • Everyone is at least a little superstitious.
  • You must live the story 100% of the time, consistently.
  • Growth starts with asking the right questions about stories, not commodities.
  • It can be a dangerous thing to dispel lies. If a friend responds well to a placebo, is it ethically sound to tell them it was a sugar pill?
  • The story happening in a consumer's head is happening with you or without you. You have no choice in the matter. All you can do is be authentic, be consistent and be prepared.
  • Don't try to outdo your competition on their own story. Create a more compelling one, and tell that authentically instead.


  • 'Don't tell me the facts, tell me a story instead.' Intro
  • 'The reason all successful marketers tell stories is that consumers insist on it. Consumers are used to telling stories to themselves and telling stories to each other, and it's just natural to buy stuff from someone who's telling us a story. People can't handle the truth.' p3
  • 'Don't try to change someone's worldview is that strategy smart marketers follow. Don't try to use facts to prove your case and to insist that people change their biases. You don't have enough time and you don't have enough money. Instead, identify a population with a certain worldview, frame your story in terms of that worldview and you win.' p41
  • 'Marketing succeeds when enough people with similar worldviews come together in a way that allows marketers to reach them cost-effectively.' p43
  • 'Your opportunity lies in finding a neglected worldview, framing your story in a way that this audience will focus on and going from there.' p43
  • 'Frames are the words and images and interactions that reinforce a bias someone is already feeling.' p51
More of this, but in your inbox.

I write a newsletter about the internet. It's called Internet Connection. There's a few hundred of us that fall down the rabbit hole every other week. Want to come along for the ride? Drop your email below.

Let me read it first