Early in his blogging day, Seth Godin wrote about marketing, storytelling, and liars on his blog.
The book that accompanied this blog post, All Marketers Tell Stories, was one of the first ones that helped me codify any real sense of why the marketing work I was doing was successful and how to make the work I was doing repeatable.
The basis of Seth’s idea was that people have a worldview, you aren’t likely to change it. To change it is expensive and often doesn’t work.
Your best chance at impact is by taking the truth the way you see it and telling your story in a way that fits your audiences’ worldview.
But the most important thing that Seth talks about is that your story has to be true.
Living in Washington, DC, truth can often feel like it is at a premium.
We have politicians that spew stories that are provably false that operate with news agencies and reporters that are willing to support and share these false stories and ideas as a way to advance an agenda or to curry favor with a source.
As we see repeatedly in politics, the closer you get to a truth, the more likely it becomes that savage statements and attacks are made against a politician’s character.
Not based on fact as much, but based on some ill-supported argument steeped heavily in personal attacks.
The Internet likely plays a big part in this because it is easy to denigrate a person or an idea when the person is anonymous or an avatar. Or, to even hide behind distance or anonymity.
As I re-read some of Seth’s writing over the last few days, I realized that the current state of marketing often lends itself to the person that yells the loudest wins.
Or, worse, that the person that feeds the trolls wins.
But real marketing and real marketers know three things that have stood the test of time and that have been reinforced over and over again in my work:
- Marketing is everything you do: If you greet people warmly, that’s marketing. If you try and lie or mislead people, that’s marketing. Everything you say or do, that’s your marketing plan.
- Marketing is about emotion: Good or bad it is all about emotions and you have to realize that every person is going to be motivated by a different emotion or their emotions will be activated by something different.
- Marketing is about making and keeping promises: If you make a promise to a customer and you break that promise, people remember that. By the same token, when you make a promise and keep it, people remember that as well.
These three ideas create a feedback loop that either pushes you forward or knocks you down.
I guess the point of this riff is that all marketers tell stories, but not all stories are true.
The challenge of modern marketing isn’t in the telling a story, that’s a given. The challenge in modern marketing is whether or not you are going to tell a story that is true or convenient.