Those goals come closer to fruition each time someone visits a lens and clicks through to Amazon or eBay to purchase one of the books, albums, or services endorsed by the lensmaster, who receives a commission for the sale. (Squidoo also makes it easy for lensmasters to redirect all income to a favorite charity.)
One of the tactics Godin uses in pursuit of those goals involves the idea of marketing as storytelling, set forth in his most recent and most controversial book, All Marketers Are Liars. “Liars is selling more [copies] every week, but the title really put people off, so it’s depending entirely on people hand-seling it to each other. I wrestle with myself about, if I were to do it all over again, whether I’d change the title. I’m not sure. I should have called it Green Kangaroo or something like that,” he jokes, referencing his wildly successful book Purple Cow. It’s fitting that the book depends on word-of-mouth marketing. All Marketers Are Liars has nothing to do with lying. The word liars simply made for a far better title than storytellers would have. The cheeky title refers to the relative truths that marketers tell people about a product, as well as to the stories people tell themselves — and other people — when using that product.
Godin asks the price of the caviar-extract shampoo and tells me that my wife “got at least $20 of joy out of the purchase. Never mind taking it home. Just buying it gave her joy, because what people pay for when they buy most anything these days is the anticipation. The feeling of self-satisfaction, the way it feels when you put it in the bag, the dream of how it’s going to make you happier or more attractive tomorrow. When it comes down to using the shampoo, in practice, it’s way less important. What’s important is the dream.”
That dream is the story. Liars discusses the stories we tell, whether about why we buy SUVs with needlessly flared wheel wells or about the spectacular service we think we received at the Union Square Café. Those stories spread as ideaviruses, infecting new people, exposing bigger demographics.
One of the book’s theses states that everyone is a marketer, whether you’re introducing a new line of soy chips or embarking on a first date. “I don’t think that most of the people outside the world of marketing who listen to me think they’re doing marketing,” he says. “They think they’re trying to spread ideas, which is my definition of what the new marketing is, so it’s good that I’m reaching them because I’m trying to broaden what the topic is altogether. It used to be you couldn’t do marketing without $10 million, and there were only 200 companies. Now you can do marketing for free. So, it’s everyone.”