Book Club Discussion – All Marketers Tell Stories by Seth Godin
Mickey, John and I discuss Seth Godin’s All Marketers Tell Stories.
Three key takewaways –
Great marketers have to be masters of perception.
Perception, in marketing, is almost as important as reality.
Perception and reality had better match or the whole thing falls apart!
We all had a hearty thumbs-up for this small but powerful book!
From the back of the book:
All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them!
We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believ that $125 sneakers make our feet feel better – and look cooler – than a $25 brand. And believing it makes it true.
As Seth Godin explains, great marketers don’t talk about features or even benefits. Instead they tell a story – a story we want to believe, whether it’s factual or not. In a world where most people have an infinite number of choices and no time to make them, every organization is a marketer, and all marketing is about telling stories.
Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friend.s Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, or Fiji water, or the iPod.
But beware, if your stories are not authentic, you cross the line from fib to fraud. That’s a lesson leanred the hard way by telemarketers, cigarette companies and sleazy politicians.
All marketers are storytellers. Only the losers are liars.
Listen here –
Paula: Welcome to this week’s episode. I’m Paula Williams.
John: I’m John Williams.
Paula: And we are ABCI and ABCI’s mission is…
John: To help these ladies and gentlemen, out there in the aviation world, sell more products and services.
Paula: Absolutely. To that end, we are doing a book club this week. Kind of long over due, been a while since we’ve done one. Life gets busy, right?
John: It does. Life happens.
Paula: Exactly. This time we are talking about Seth Godin’s
John: Just so you know, it’s not upside down.
Paula: All marketers tell stories or All marketers tell lies. Whichever version you want to take there, it’s all a matter of perception, right?
Paula: Seth Godin is actually really, really good at explaining this, and we have a really good time talking about the book, right?
John: Yes, we talk about perception in the book discussion.
This Episode Has Been Brought To You By Our Aviation Sales Basics Course
Paula: Exactly. Speaking of perception, this episode has been brought to you by our aviation sales basics course. We have done a lot of different courses over our lifetimes. We’ve done Sandler, we’ve done Dale Carnegie, we’ve done Pacific Institute…
John: Industry specifics such as real estate.
John: Insurance and others.
Paula: So, some folks think that sales is sales and there’s-
John: Something to me said for that because everybody’s in the selling business even if it’s just convincing somebody of your idea.
Paula: Exactly. Selling in the aviation industry does have some different things about it that, we found weren’t being covered in the other courses that are out there. We really want our clients to be successful with the leads that we bring them. We really want them to be good sales people, that makes us all successful.
Paula: Alright, without further ado, let’s jump into the conversation with our book club facilitator, Mickey Gamonal.
Book Club Discussion – All Marketers Tell Stories – First Impressions
Paula: It’s all yours, take it away.
Mickey: Cool. So, welcome back to the book club for ABCI. We’re going to highlight since it’s a quick episode. We’re just going to highlight favorite thing, least favorite thing.
Mickey: In this episode we are talking about, All marketers are liars, which is crossed out, but they so say, tell stories. This was one of my favorites. I’m excited to hear your guys’ opinion on it. Paula, if you’d like to go first, go ahead.
Paula: Okay, you can call me Mom if you want to.
Mickey: Okay, good.
Paula: Anyway, I suppose in a professional capacity we should use our first names. That was my favorite too. I actually really, really like Seth Godin. He has a really nice way of summarizing things. He writes really short, punchy, impactful books. I think, he really adheres to the principle of, communicate one idea at a time. Whereas, a lot of other people and a lot of other authors, try to pile on way too much so that it becomes less effective. That’s my first impression of that book.
Mickey: Cool. How about you, John?
John: Well, there was a lot in here. A lot of it’s been rehashed but then, that’s the way marketing is. Overall, I liked it. Specifically, if I can go into specifics…
Mickey: Yes, go ahead.
“Expectations Are the Engine of Our Perceptions.”
John: On page 110 he, in bold face, says, “Expectations are of the engine of our perceptions. And, complex stories carry all sorts of perceptions. Where people choose to stop, the way the transaction is handled, the noise, music, lighting. Each element is, at least, as important as the item itself.” I thought that was actually, quite insightful.
John: S-I-G-H-T. Insightful.
Paula: Not Inciteful, I-N-C-I-T-E-ful, like, you know, let’s incite violence and that kind of thing, right?
Mickey: Cool, I agree. I agree. As, far as… Basically, it sounds to me what you’re saying is, what things represent is, at least, as important as what they actually do. Is that a variation of what he said? He said… What was the quote again? Our expectations are…
John: The engine of our perceptions.
Mickey: The engine of our perceptions. So, because we expect it to work, it will. I think you’re right, I think that that’s a major highlight, that’s exactly what this book is all about. Where it talks about, they are liars, but they tell stories. It’s not necessarily that they’re lying about how great their product is for you, it’s that you’re believing that their product is that great for you and, thereby, it is that great for you. It’s that worthwhile.
John: You’re right.
John: No, that’s good. I like that a lot. But, anyway…
The Placebo Effect
Paula: Well, there was this thing on NPR about the placebo effect and how the more dramatic you make the presentation of the placebo. They actually had people that signed a waiver and everything else, but they actually pretended that they did surgery on them and it worked, just as well as people who had actually had the procedure. In order to make this convincing they had to actually had to put them under, make an incision, all this other stuff. Which to me, is just insane if you’re not actually going to do something.
Paula: It was an experiment that they did… I think it was NBA play… NBA basketball players and their knees. I’ll have to find that and maybe, include that in the show notes. The more dramatic-
John: By going through all that stuff, they proved their point, quite effectively.
Paula: Right. And, I think, as marketers and Mickey, you and I went through this when you started in Tae Kwon Do. We went to a YMCA kind of thing.
Paula: That’s how we got started, and it was a free thing and everybody was late, and their kids weren’t in uniform, and the instructor was good but there was nothing he could do to take this to the next level. Then we started actually paying as, shocking obscene, amount of money for Tae Kwon Do and it was a thousand times better because the parents were… made sure their kids were early, they were in uniform, and they were ironed… threatened within an inch of their lives that they’re going to behave, and they’re going to listen to the instructor because they are paying for this lesson.
Mickey: Right, absolutely. There was… I remember the second dojo had warm up area that was 100% full. Everybody was getting ready, in the stretch out area, for their class that was in 20 minutes because this was an event. This was something that they paid for. This is something that their family had paid for. They were going to get their money’s worth. That’s a lot of what investment really is all about. You invest in yourself, you damn well better get a return. Most of people, who have lived more than five years, have invested in things that don’t turn out, don’t pan out. But if-
Paula: Yes, yes.
Mickey: If, you’re going to invest in something that’s going to make yourself better, you will not be the weakest link. Which is, really insightful. I think that’s something that this book, kind of, points out is that if people are paying more… the back of the book talks about $20 wine glasses. They’re hand blown and everything, and it says that wine tastes better in these wine glasses.
Mickey: He keeps going back to that example and as any educated person knows, wine is just wine. I doesn’t matter if you drink it out of a dollar store glass or a $20 glass. It doesn’t make any difference. There are wine critics, major players in the wine field, who will tell you that your way better off with different wine glasses then without. That’s insightful and people believe that, people buy that. I don’t know if that’s… I don’t really think that that’s a jab at consumers, saying they’re all saps, or anything like that. I really think that means that the consumers want to pursue something a little more abstract. They want a little more out of their life than just efficiency or existence.
Paula: Right, right. Another example is our marketing lab. We have people who do scholarships and we do… four scholarships this year. We did two the last year and so on. The scholarship kids, they’re not kids, they’re grown ups, they’re whatever, but those folks don’t take it as seriously as the people who are actually paying money for the marketing lab. The people that are actually paying money for the marketing lab show up for their offices hours, they make sure they reschedule if they’re not going to be able to make it, they read all the books, they do all the things, they have everything checked off in base camp. They do all the stuff because they are paying. No matter what you try to give somebody, if they haven’t invested in it, it just isn’t worth as much.
Paula: I think that’s, as marketers, we have to… we have to set up the conditions in which someone makes an investment. You, for your tutoring students, and things like that, you have to make them feel it, you know? You have to make them feel a little bit of pain so that they know this is worth something to them, even if it’s their parents that are paying for it. You’ve got to get the kids to take it seriously, right?
“I Didn’t Write This Book.”
John: Well, this guy writes on another, one more page. I’m going to read a part of it.
John: Because, it makes his point exceedingly well. “I didn’t write this book. What I mean is, that Seth Godin didn’t write this book. It was written by a freelancer, for hire, named Moe Samuels. Godin hired me to write it based on a skimpy, three page out line. Does that bum you out? Does it change the way you feel about the ideas? Is the fact that Seth paid me ten grand and kept the best advance money make the book less valuable? Why should it matter who wrote a book? The words don’t change, after all. Yet, I’m betting that you care a lot that some guy named Moe wrote this book instead of the guy in the dust jacket. In fact, you’re probably pretty angry. Well, if you made it this far, you realize that there is no Moe Samuels and in fact, I was pulling your leg. I, Seth Godin, wrote every word of this book and I apologize for fooling around with you. But, the point should be pretty obvious. One of the reasons that the ideas in my book spread is that readers expect that they’ll be spreadable. You expect that what I write will be fun and useful and pretty irreverent. Once you hear that the book was written by someone you’ve never heard of, it’s a totally different story, isn’t it?”
Mickey: I remember that part, that part really sticks with you. Especially, in a lot of the book that I’ve read, that part, I could go the whole year and read all 12 books but I will not forget the part where he says, I’m not who I say I am [crosstalk 00:11:40] brick wall.
Paula: Yes, exactly.
Mickey: That’s cheating really, right? Like, that’s…What a hell of a literary device.
Paula: Absolutely. No, that was brilliant. That’s exactly… Do you remember Penn Jillete, John? From Jane Kennedy’s thing?
John: Oh, yeah.
Paula: His whole premise, and Mickey, have you ever seen… What is his show on cable?
Mickey: Uh, yes.
Paula: Bull shit.
Mickey: Bull shit.
Paula: Can I say that? I’ll edit it out so that we keep our PG rating. The name of his show is BS. His whole premise is about, he is a magician that tells the truth. He was in one of our marketing mastermind groups, talking about how magicians are marketing people. They sell a concept. They sell an idea. They sell, I’m going to pull a rabbit out of this hat and they make you believe that they’re going to pull a rabbit out of this hat. And, you want to be deceived. It’s entertainment because you’re not hurting them, you’re doing what they want you want them to do and so on. It’s an interesting ethical dilemma and, Seth Godin and Penn Jillette both have an interesting take on it.
Paula: That’s cool. That’s a great quote, John. The… that part was a really good way of making that point.
Mickey: I think when I was initially reading that section, it was late and I was just barely staying awake. Then all of a sudden, I was like, who the hell is talking to me right now? [crosstalk 00:13:25]
Mickey: I kind of wakes you up. Like, wait a minute, who’s actually… you’re reading the front of the book to see you says they wrote it and then all that. I think it was really well done. Going back to the ethics of convincing people of what they want to believe, in order to gain profit. At the end of the day, none times out of ten, people are going to believe what they want, either way. No matter what you have to say. If you can help get them there in an efficient matter and you know, one of the things I learned when I was going through Peace Corps, one of our big statements was, do no harm.
Mickey: Which is basically, don’t hurt people. Don’t leave people with negative impacts or negative impressions. For me, in that case, it was specifically of America. Don’t make people think all American’s are assholes, was essentially one of the tenets of the Peace Corps. Which was a good rule. Don’t hurt people.
Mickey: I think in business, that’s just as important. Don’t… nobody feels, nobody’s going to feel fulfilled making money off of anybody’s misery.
Mickey: That’s all bad. There are enough people, who want better lives out there, who are willing to pay for it. There is no reason that you have to go through life manipulating people into giving you money for nefarious purposes. It’s just not necessary.
Paula: That’s absolutely right. It comes down to having a clean motive.
Mickey: Yes, absolutely. Cool. Any final thoughts on this, All marketers are liars slash tell stories?
Paula: I think you did a great job on that one. That was a good book and a pretty interesting review.
Mickey: You guys all had some good insights. Thanks, John, I like the direct quotes.
About the Participants –
Paula and John Williams co-own the aviation marketing company ABCI that helps aviation companies sell more of their products and services.
Mickey Gamonal is the founder of Gamonal Tutors, which helps adults, young adults and children learn powerful math skills with ease.