All Marketers Are Liars

There’s a book coming out next week which ought to be required reading for a very sizable chunk of the world, and certainly the computer hardware audience.

The book is called, All Marketers Are Liars : The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World

Here’s part of the editorial review posted by Amazon:

“Journalist and marketing guru Godin, author of Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, contends that, in an age when consumers are motivated by irrational wants instead of objective needs and “there is almost no connection between what is actually there and what we believe,” presenting stolid factual information about a product is a losing strategy. Instead, marketers should tell “great stories” about their products that pander to consumers’ self-regard and worldview. Examples include expensive wine glasses that purport to improve the taste of wine, despite scientific proof to the contrary; Baby Einstein videotapes that are “useless for babies but…satisfy a real desire for their parents”; and organic marketing schemes, which amount to “telling ourselves a complex lie about food, the environment and the safety of our families.” Because consumers prefer fantasy to the truth, the marketer’s duty is to be “authentic” rather than honest, to “live the lie, fully and completely” so that “all the details line up”-that is, to make their falsehoods convincing rather than transparent.”

Or maybe you’d rather hear it from the horse’s mouth. The author has a website and a blog

I think I’m going to get this book and review it. Why? What does it have to do with overclocking? It has everything to do with what a growing chunk of overclockers buy and how much they’re willing to pay for it.

What the author basically appears to be saying is “People don’t really buy products; they buy stories, and you should be less concerned about the relative excellence of your product than that of your story, nor should you let a few inconvenient facts get in the way of an excellent story.”

Based on the blog, there seems to be some heavy ambivalence of the part of the author, like a magician who shows how he does his tricks after he performs them. Part of him seems to be saying, “You don’t have to be fooled by this,” and part of him says, “You’ll still get fooled even after I show you.”

Many will find it somewhat insulting to be told that odds are they’re a bunch of emotional doofuses ready to be led by any Pied Piper willing to play their tune.

However, just because something is insulting doesn’t make it any less true. And it is usually true. If I were called in as an expert witness in a trial, and asked under oath if I found the author’s contentions to be generally true, I’d say “Yes,” without hesitation.

One of the saddest things I see doing this is seeing people are people who have become essentially corporate marketing zombies with no more awareness of their zombieness than . . . a zombie.

If I were also asked by that same court to say how the computer hardware market has changed since this website was founded, I wouldn’t breathe a word about hardware or technology. I would say instead, “The marketers have taken over. We’ve gone from hobbying to being a marketing machine.”

This is a by-product of success, and looking for a rollback to the good old days is like expecting to yell the tide back. It’s not going to happen.

However, when the marketers take over, with their zombies trailing behind, it hurts all of us, simply because zombies care less about their wallets than the rest of us, which means higher prices for the rest of us.

That makes it even more important to identify what the spells are and when they’re being cast, and how items people think are counterspells are just another flavor.

The book won’t be available until next week, so figure in about two weeks, we’ll review the book, and point out just how relevant it is to this environment.

In the meantime, look at the examples in the blog and start thinking about how susceptible you are to these kinds of appeals.


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