In my last post I was criticizing the media overexposure of Seth Godin, the writer of tremendously popular marketing books such as Purple Cow and All Marketers Are Liars. I was prating on about how I was sick of hearing about him and this and that and so on and so forth, enough so that I avoided reading his books.
Through a bizarre course of events, I found myself with a free copy of All Marketers Are Liars, his latest book. After I posted about that, he actually found my blog and posted a gentlemanly comment on it, despite my dickness. You can see what he said in the comments of my last post. 🙂
Feeling quite the dingus since I haven’t actually read the books I was criticizing, I dove into reading the book and was pleased and surprised to find that, in fact, it’s one of the best books on marketing I’ve ever read.
To set aside time to read it, I made a trip out to the beach last Monday, busted out my beach chair, plopped it down a few feet from the water, aimed toward the sunset and burned through a huge part of the book in one sitting. It was bliss. I haven’t devoured a book that quickly in quite a while. It even distracted me from Winning by Jack Welch, which I love.
The book is terrific. I’ve mentioned before that always felt like, as good as the other books I read are, they’re almost all vague high-level concepts I have difficulty finding a direct application for.
All Marketers Are Liars is an extremely well-written distillation of marketing theory, human psychology and practical applications woven into a series of bullet points explaining how storytelling is an immensely powerful marketing tool, and his thesis is punctuated generously with relevant real-world examples both well-known and obscure.
What’s interesting is that he weaves a wide array of concepts like Positioning, word-of-mouth marketing, branding, viral marketing and classic storytelling into one solid, cohesive picture, all described effortlessly, engagingly, and with a surprisingly common touch anyone can understand.
I find this remarkable because these concepts are usually presented as different facets of this hulking, unknowable and faceless beast called Marketing. This is intentional because the natural instinct in marketing a book on marketing is to become deadly focused on one single thing and write an entire book or series of books around it to carve out their own niche. It’s been constant divergence ever since, to the point that it’s difficult to see how anything fits together. The really interesting trick here is that Seth broke away from the flock with a strategic convergence of concepts to synthesize another, bringing them together harmoniously.
Usually I want to stomp the life out of people that say things like “This man brought [some vague concept] down to the people!” but it feels like Seth Godin’s accomplished that with a coherent, integrated, differentiated marketing strategy explained clearly and without pomp. The impressive part is that he’s apparently an extremely avid reader on all manner of subjects, such as biology, neuroscience, psychology, and distills their teachings and marketing-related applications into something that’s fun to read.
The whole book feels like it was written straight from his heart, showing his passion, enthusiasm, lust for life and hope for the future as well as his anger with unethical marketers and fraudsters. It’s really no wonder he’s so popular, because even if you’re not interested in marketing, it’s fun to read it simply for insight into why we like the things we like.
I was so, completely wrong about this guy’s work, and I need to watch my damn mouth in the future. 🙂 I’m going to buy the rest of his books, and I’ll comment on them as I read them.