Seth Godin has written 20 best-selling books.
are Liars tell Stories” is one of them. A short book with loads of anecdotal evidence why storytelling is the most important skill marketers should pursue.
But are stories really the truth to business success? And how well does Seth Godin prove that point?
I’ve written a short summary of the book, so you can decide whether you want to read it as well or not at all.
I’ll start off with a couple of quotes that give a great introduction. Hint: In case you want to share them, simply highlight the quote and the share buttons will appear.
The consumer wants you to tell him a story.
Stories make it easier to understand the world.
The consumer wants to hear stories that confirm his/her worldview.
A worldview is what you believe right now. It’s a set of rules, values, beliefs. It’s your biases.
That worldview alters the way the consumer interprets everything you say and do.
It’s the lens the consumer uses to look at every decision he is asked to make.
First impressions start the story.
Only things that are different get attention.
The more subtle the story is being told, the more powerful the process of discovery feels.
And consumers buy things because of the way it makes them feel.
Consumers buy the things they want, not the things they need.
Stories are the only way we know to spread an idea.
Stories are based on a foundation of “Worldview”
What’s a Worldview?
A worldview is not who you are. It’s what you believe. It’s your biases. A worldview is not forever. It’s what the consumers believe right now.
10 Examples of a Worldview
- New technology can improve my life.
- If I was prettier, I’d be more popular.
- If it’s a prescription medicine, it’s probably safe.
- I can afford the best.
- I need some new clothes.
- It’s possible that a product advertised on an infomercial might be a good product.
- I am responsible for the lifestyle I live.
- Fossile fueled cars are bad for the environment.
- I care about the environment.
- Organic products are healthier.
… identifying a group that shares a worldview can dramatically change the outcome of your marketing.
The best worldviews are those that include a healthy dose of ‘I gotta share this!’
People don’t want to change their worldview. They like it, they embrace it and they want it to be reinforced.
There are 5 steps to telling a great story
- Know: Don’t tell a story, someone else is already telling. It won’t work.
- Do: Frame your story in terms of the consumer’s worldview, and it will be heard.
- Be: Be new, be different. It’s the only way to get noticed.
- Start: Make sure to create a compelling first impression. It starts a story and once the consumer has come to a conclusion, he resists changing it.
- Tell: Tell stories the consumer wants to believe. A story that satisfies his desires.
- Make a clear statement about the shared worldview.
- frame your messages in a way they get heard.
- reward people with a shared worldview.
- help them spread the word that it’s a good worldview to have.
The only stories that spread are the “I can’t believe that” stories. They are stories that aren’t just repeatable. These are the stories that demand to be repeated.
What’s are the ingredients to a good story?
- A great is true.
- Great stories make a promise.
- Great stories are trusted.
- Great stories are subtle.
- Great stories happen fast.
- Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but often appeal to our senses.
- Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone.
- Great stories don’t contradict themselves.
- And most of all great stories agree with our worldview.
To tell a remarkable story, you must go to extremes. You must do something worth talking about.
Aggressively go to the edges.
Consumers desire to do what the people they admire are doing.
There is always a peer group and a much bigger consumer group that wants to be like them.
A lot of people want what everybody else wants.
There are 4 possible reasons why a story fails:
- no one noticed it.
- people noticed it but decided they didn’t want to try it
- people tried it but decided not to keep using it.
- people liked it but didn’t tell their friends.
Most of us have a very simple default frame: If it’s not remarkable or exceptional, ignore it. If someone tries to seell you something, decline.
What does the consumer feel comfortable sharing?
It’s almost impossible to out-yell someone with the same story. You cannot succeed if you try to tell your competition’s story better than they can. All human beings are trained to follow the leader.
All successful stories offer one of these elements:
- a shortcut ⏱️
- a miracle 💫
- money 💰
- social success 💖
- safetey 🔒
- ego 😎
- fun 🤪
- pleasure 😚
- belonging 🤝
The goal of every marketer is to create a product or experience so remarkable that people feel compelled to talk about it.
If a consumer figures something out or discovers it on his own, he’s a thousand times more likely to believe it than if it’s just something you claim.
The process of discovery is far more powerful than being told the right answer.
Consumers buy things because of the way it makes them feel.
Consumers hate to admit they’re wrong.
Why you should care about the First Impression
- In order to escape choice overload, consumers make snap judgments.
- Snap Judgements are incredibly powerful.
- Humans do everything they can to support those initial judgements.
- Snap Judgements happen whether you want it or not.
- One of the ways people support snap judgements is by telling other people.
- You never know which input is going to generate the first impression that matters.
- Authentic organizations and poeple are far more likely to discover that the story they wish to tell is heard and believed and repeated.
- It’s every point of contact that matters.
- Coherence is what sews is all together.
Consumers make decisions with almost no data.Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
Almost every important buying decision is made instantaneously.
What is a Frame?
Frames are the words and images and interactions that reinforce a bias someone is already feeling.
A frame allows you to present an idea in a way that embraces the consumer’s worldview.
The best marketing stories are told (and sold) with frames but ultimately to spread to people who are open to being convinced of something brand new.
The best marketing goes on when you talk to a group that shares a worldview and also talks about it – a community.
Personal Worldview Examples
- I like to beat the system (take a shortcut).
- I’m capable of changing myself through action.
- Technology can improve my life.
- I have a great selection of media sources I consume.
- Books are a valuable medium.
- I don’t have enough time. I need to be more efficient with it.
- I’m lazy and that’s smart.
- Doing the right thing pays off.
- Long-term thinking is better than short term thinking.
The public demands that you tell them a story. The story is part of the product or service that they buy – and in many cases, the story is what people set out to buy.
If you want to grow, make something worth talking about. Not the hype, not the ads, but the thing. If your idea is good, it’ll spread.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Which worldview am I addressing?
- What frame am I using?
- What’s the story worth noticing?
- How will I live my story?
- What am I not willing to compromise on to keep it real and pure?
- What are the shortcuts your fans can use to tell the story to their friends?
- How can I radically change my product or service so the story is natural?
- What’s the value of my permission asset (to follow up)?
The Main idea
Marketing is about telling a story people can and want to believe in.
Stories are far more powerful than features, benefits, or marketing tactics. We connect with stories on a deeper emotional level.
- New / Remarkable
Consumers are used to telling stories to themselves and telling stories to each other, and it feels natural for them to buy stuff from someone who’s telling a story that aligns with their worldview.
Consumers are always asking: What’s your story?
They want your resume, your packaging, your candidacy, your ads, your customer service to tell a story.
A consistent, authentic story is one that is framed in terms of the worldview of the person you’re telling the story to. The story must be robust and honest and transparent and you have to be prepared to live it out loud.
Successful marketers are the ones that can honestly tell a story people want to believe and share.
Things that could be improved
Although the laid-back style of the book makes it very easy and fun to read, the repetitive and surface-level nature of 90% of the content can become very tiring.
There is very little visual aid or formatting. The most important insights are spread throughout the book and are hard to identify. It also lacks scientific proof or sources for the many opinions and statements Godin makes.
The headlines describe the examples he’s using rather than the content or insight he’s trying to bring across. If one does not take notes or highlights important paragraphs, he would have to read the book all over again in order to find the valuable insights within the lines.