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Business Blog Book Tour: Seth "Pinocchio" Godin

So it's day two of the "All Marketers are Liars" BBBT. If you missed day one over at Brand Autopsy, read it first (last time I ever follow those lads at anything).


Below you will see the seven questions we put to Seth, and more importantly, his answers. On with the show...

Sethgodin1 - Before we open the book, the title could be perceived as a bit of sensationalism; "All marketers are liars"  fib or fraud?

There's no question it's a fib. Why? Because people don't usually seek out business books. Because even if your ideas are terrific, if you don't sell the package of the ideas, they won't get read and they won't get spread. Purple Cow is a two paragraph book, really. The rest of it... all the words, all the stories, the title... are there to help the idea move around. The reason that a book sells and spreads is that the core is worth spreading. No amount of hype will get you over that hump. Which makes it a fib. A fib is a lie that people are glad they believed, even (especially) once they discover the truth. A fraud is a lie that rips people off or takes when it should give.

2 - No fancy packaging this time, no free downloads, however you have launched a corresponding blog. Given the subject matter, I'm guessing that this was strategic rather than simply a buzz generation tool. What was your thinking here, and how does this relate to the "story" concept introduced in the book?

Well, the cover is a little fancy, but this isn't a book about packaging, it's a book about stories. Blogs are a great place to tell stories. I built a separate blog for it because I didn't want current blog readers to feel alienated or distracted. What's fascinating to me is that the Liars blog gets about 20% of the traffic of the other blog. Why should that be? I cross post a bit, and the topics are very complementary. Maybe it'll change over time...

3 - In Purple Cow, the epiphany came while driving through France with your family. Did you have a eureka moment like that when you came up with the core concept of this book, if so, what was it?

I did. It was watching the Democrats lose the election. Watching Howard Dean get tarred and feathered. Watching Karl Rove doing his evil genius shtick. He's a very, very good liar, and he understands how to tell a story that many people in the US really want to believe. Once I saw things through this lens, I saw it everywhere. I saw it in my town, in the supermarket, in world events. It was sort of scary how clearly it made everything appear.

4 - Permission Marketing asked for it,  Unleashing the ideavirus did, and Purple Cow was one. At first I thought that you had missed this step in All Marketers are Liars until I realized that the book itself creates a new worldview for the reader, thus explicitly proving one of its key concepts. Was this intentional, or am I just looking to deep?

Well, I'm trying for a lot here, so I'm flattered if you feel like it was deep. The mistake of LIARS is that I'm not playing to the existing worldview. By telling the truth as I see it instead of packaging it in a way that most of my potential readers see it, I'm taking a huge risk. That risk is that those people will reject this message out of hand because it isn't clean, positive and simple, which is generally what sells a business book. BUT, since the idea came to me, liars and lying have become the buzz of the day. So it may very well be, after the fact, that my story matches an emerging worldview. That's when hits really happen (the Beatles didn't invent rock and roll, but they sure had good timing) and maybe I'll get lucky again.

5 - By way of a case study; I love google, I've told myself a story about google, I've told myself, and others, that it's a clean, simple, bare-bones, yet brilliant search engine. Now it seems that google is trying to get me to change my story. Clever or crazy?

Neither. Inevitable. As the brand grows and expectations increase, there's just too much pressure to keep it simple. The question is this: can the market absorb the added complexity (as it did with cars--the Model T didn't have a radio, didn't have onstar, didn't even have air conditioning) or will it reject it once the baggage gets to be too much (microwaves, for example, continue to be pretty simple appliances).

I think Google has a challenge as they try to get to the next level. They have to invent NEW stories that attract people with DIFFERENT worldviews while not jeopardizing their core. Not easy.

6- I mentioned in a review I wrote that I felt that this was your best book to date, definitely the most important. As I see it, it's a prequel to your other books, it's the one I would now tell people to read first in order to create the worldview that is required for them to better implement the practical stuff presented in your other books. How does this one rank for you in terms of personal pride? Is it the one Seth Godin book you should read if you could read only one?

Unfair question, which I'll probably try a trick answer for. My favorite book is Survival is Not Enough. It was a total failure. So read that one, because if you do you'll probably read the others. Whereas if I tell you to read something popular, you'll just stop there.

LIARS is totally consuming my thoughts because I see the necessity of it everywhere. I figure that'll pass for me, but this is an important book and one that applies far and wide. I wish I had made it a tad shorter, but I think so highly of my readers I flattered them by leaving in some of the riffier stuff. I hope I'm right. I think I am.

7 - Lastly, the lads at ilovepdg are starting a Seth story of their own, is it true that you are actually the true biological father of Luke Skywalker?

Those guys are too funny. I wish I was funny. I keep trying to be funny, but I fail.

That's it from the "Hello_World" lads. Thanks Mr. G, much respect.

It's a great book, of course that's just our opinion. Make your own, pop over to 8CR and buy a copy, or better still, buy two.

Then follow Seth on the rest of his book tour:

METACOOL (Thur., May 26)
BRAND MANTRA (Fri., May 27)

Now piss-off and tell some lies...!

Posted by Rich...! | Permalink


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Kudos, guys. And a nice metion on Seth's blog too. Much respect.

Posted by: The Salami from Killarney | 24 May 2005 15:31:46

Karl Rove is an evil dude for sure..

Posted by: Jeff | 24 May 2005 16:09:12

Very nice sir!!!! Great questions on a few points I've wondered about myself, very well done! Hopefully, we'll all see more of these being showcased on "Hello World" in the future.

Cheers mate!

Posted by: aaron | 24 May 2005 20:52:14

:-) Nice.

I wish I had more time to read books!

Posted by: Martin | 24 May 2005 21:07:17

Hmmm, not sure I agree with the time issue Martin. Can you really afford not to stay up to date with the latest thinking?

Posted by: Rich...! | 24 May 2005 22:07:46

Nice work!

Great questions.

Great answers.

Posted by: Brand Examiner Paul | 24 May 2005 22:12:07

OK, I suppose I sounded stupid, seeing as I didn't disagree at all :-)

Somehow, all my reading is done on my screen, but it's not ideal. I suppose I need to force myself to grab some good ol' fashioned paper every now and then!

Posted by: Martin | 24 May 2005 22:23:51

I was just discussing this during a great skypecon with johnmoore, there's just something about attacking a good book, armed with a pen and highlighter that goes way beyond screen reading. Underlining a point you love three times, with three definite strokes just feels good. Equally, scribbling "CRAP" in the margin when you disagree makes you feel part of the book.

I love my Mac, but if I was forced to choose, I'd take a book any day...!

Posted by: Rich...! | 24 May 2005 22:46:58

I agree, but can't wait for the digital paper age!

Posted by: Martin | 24 May 2005 23:29:57

Also seen this at E-Vendi B2B Platform the import directory is available. This fast growing resource contains company information of 150000+ importers, distributors and wholesale companies.We also got payed Member there.

Posted by: Thomas Hanke | 14 Dec 2006 02:07:34