Why All Marketers Are Liars and Why the Truth Lies in Storytelling

A while back, I came across an interesting book from marketing guru Seth Godin, called ‘All marketers are liars tell stories’.

The title of the book triggered me, but after only a few pages I realised that the marketer isn’t the liar; we are.

We lie to ourselves every day. We believe expensive wine tastes better, that cars with loud engines go faster and that the sushi we eat is more delicious when prepared by a Japanese chef.

The book is based on one simple idea: people don’t want to change their minds. 

You cannot change people’s worldview, you can only tell stories that fit their existing worldview. If you do that, people will lie to themselves to make that story fit.

That means that if the wine looks expensive, the engine produces a lot of noise and the chef is Japanese that we, ourselves, will fill in the blanks and tell ourselves that the wine tastes great, that the car must be fast and that our sushi really is delicious.

What’s fascinating about this type of thinking is that most of our communication is aimed to persuade people and to convince them to do, think and act differently than they would normally have done, rather than accepting people’s existing worldview and telling a story that matches it.

This type of thinking shows that the marketer, the adman and the PR guy (and gal) should not be focused on pushing people to buy products, but rather on pulling them in through great storytelling.

There are’s one big word of warning though, that every storyteller should take into account: telling stories is not the same as telling lies. It’s almost impossible to keep a tangled story straight and sooner or later inauthentic stories will catch up with you. The stories that help businesses thrive are the ones that are authentic. Real.

So if you want to be known for your customer service then be sure to hire friendly people. If you want to be eco-friendly, then make every aspect of your business eco-friendly. And if you want be the coffee shop that sells the greatest coffee then display coffee beans on the counter and show a menu with many different types of coffee.

People will fill in the blanks.


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