What is the job of your marketing department?  Well, in a way, it’s to lie.  At least, that’s the argument that Seth Godin makes in his book, All Marketers Are Liars.  

Does that sound a little odd?  You’re right.  You see, it’s not really about lying or deception.  It’s about learning how to share real, authentic stories in a way that truly connects with your customers.

I’ve summarized some tips from Godin’s book below that will help you create effective stories:

create a story with your marketing, like this person is with a typewriter

1. Tell stories that spread or you’ll become irrelevant.

Everyone is a liar…Stories are shortcuts we use because we’re too overwhelmed by data to discover all the details…We tell ourselves stories that can’t possibly be true, but believing those stories allows us to function…The reason all successful marketers tell stories is that consumers insist on it.  Consumers are used to telling stories to themselves and telling stories to each other, and it’s just natural to buy stuff from someone who’s telling a story.

You see, people don’t buy facts.  They buy a story.  They buy the heart behind the company and what your product or service makes them feel.

This is something that I’ve found myself discussing many times – What makes people buy one brand of toothpaste over another?  Why does Apple have such devoted customers?  Why will Starbucks fans argue for their coffee over Dunkin Donuts?

Are these products necessarily miles better than the others?  Probably not.  But people resonate with their stories.  They love the way that Apple and Starbucks make them feel.  So, therefore, what matters is what the consumer believes about your product or service.

And your stories are the tool that can make people love your brand.

2. Make sure you tell a great story.

Great stories are authentic and trusted.  Buyers are smart and not only do you want to be authentic and ethical with your messaging, it’s also so easy for your customers to decipher inaccurate or untrue stories.

Great stories make a promise.  How will your product make their life better?  Is your customer service the best or the cheapest?  Make sure that you’re promising something to your customers and that you can fulfill that promise.

Great stories allow customers to come to their own conclusions.  Don’t overexplain; your story will be more powerful if your clients can determine their own meaning of your story.

Great stories appeal to specific people. Narrow down your target audience and direct your messaging towards their needs, desires, and language.

Great stories reinforce ideas that your customers already have.  They make your customers feel good about their decision and feelings.

your audience looks at things through a specific lens

3. Your audience looks at things through a specific lens.

Things like upbringing, background, schools, experiences, nationality, beliefs, values, etc. all play a role and they see your products, services, and marketing efforts through the lens that they’ve developed.

So, we should create stories that leverage the worldviews that your customers already have rather than trying to change their worldview.  You’ll generally be much more successful and profitable by reaching people where they are than trying to change a mentality that they already have.

Your opportunity lies in finding a neglected worldview, framing your story in a way that this audience will focus on and going from there.

But you’ll also want to identify an audience whos worldview you can not only fit into but who can also influence friends and family members around them to purchase your product or service.  That’s where you’ll find a lot of potential!

Make sure to also pay attention to the words that your audience uses, the colors they’re drawn to, etc.  Those should all play a role in your marketing efforts.

4. You don’t get much time to tell a story.

First impressions are critical.  In fact, most purchases are made based on a first impression.  Why?  Because your potential customers instantly decide how they feel about your company, product, or service and then use the information they gain later to support the decision they’ve already made.  That’s just how our brains work because this method helps us process the outside world!

So what does this mean for you?  It means that if you make an excellent first impression and connect with a customer, they’ll be more likely to forgive blunders in the future.  But if you make a negative first impression, it can be very difficult to turn that around.

Put thought into all of the elements that make a first impression and consider how they’ll resonate with your audience.  This means that you should think about everything from the music that greets your customer when they walk in your front door to the packaging of your product on the shelf and the uniform that your customer service representative wears.  All of these little factors work together to convince (or turn away!) your customers.

The problem is, though, that we don’t know for sure when the first impression will occur.  That’s why it’s more important than anything else to be genuine and authentic.  All of the pieces of your story need to line up.

5. Be ethical with your story.

I keep going back to the idea of authenticity.  This is critical.

Authentic marketing from one human to another is extremely powerful.  Telling a story authentically, creating a product or service that actually does what you say it will leads to a different sort of endgame.  The marketer wins and so do her customers.  A story that works combined with authenticity and minimized side effects builds a brand (and a business) for the ages.

Don’t trick people with your marketing.  Don’t make up facts that will hurt them in the long run just to bring yourself success and money.  Your business AND the lives of your consumers should benefit because of your products and services.

In the long run, good, ethical stories will pay off anyway!  Customers will come back to an honest business time and time again and you’ll be able to sleep better at night, anyway.

6. Personal interaction is powerful.

The best way to change your story or establish your story is through personal interaction.  No, it’s not dead!  Eye contact, facial expressions, and handshakes are exactly why retail stores haven’t disappeared in the age of online ordering.

One of the biggest things you can do is empower your employees to make decisions and work with customers to find solutions to problems.  Excellent customer service (rather than just reading a script) tells a story and shows that you’re authentic.

So what does good marketing come down to?  Create a story, be authentic, and connect with people where they are.

What should we read next?  Leave your recommendation in the comments.