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Business Strategy

Why “Lying” is the Best Marketing Strategy: The Difference Between Accuracy & Truth

Georg Riedel comes from a long line of glassblowers and his family’s been in the business for 10 generations.

Riedel knows just about everything there is to know about making glasses and he believes the shape of a wine glass has a noticeable impact on the taste of the wine.

This means a $10 bottle of wine tastes significantly better in the right glass while a $300 bottle of wine will reach exceptional levels.

“The delivery of a wine’s ‘message,’ it’s bouquet and taste, depends on the form of the glass.”

That’s on the company website.

If you’re thinking, “The taste depends on the glass? That can’t be right!” you’re not the only one.

Most people, including professional reviewers and wine connoisseurs, arrive at a Riedel wine tasting as non believers but it doesn’t take long for them to change their minds.

Robert Parker Jr. a respected wine reviewer said, “The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.”

Riedel glasses are now used by wine lovers around the world and every one of them swears the glass improves their drinking experience.

But that’s not the most amazing thing about this story…

Results of double-blind scientific tests show that the shape of a wine glass has zero impact on the taste of the wine in it.

The “Lies” I Tell Every Day

You can read all about this incredible story in a book by marketing expert Seth Godin.

In his book All Marketers Are Liars, Godin says Riedel glasses make the wine taste better because people believe the story that goes with it.

To be more precise, it’s because people want to believe the story.

Godin talks about the crucial differentiator between a true story and a fact…

A story is true not because it’s factual but because it’s authentic and consistent.

I agree 100% and I share my version of Godin’s message with my students all the time…

Marketing is truthful, but it’s not accurate.

And I’m not afraid to put my money where my mouth is. 🙂

Take a look at the marketing, sales and value content we share at Live Your Message and you’ll immediately see this principle at play.

Here are just some of the “lies” I tell every day:

Be the Superhero to Your Tribe

Change the World From Your Living Room

Even my company name — Live Your Message — is a lie!

Superheroes wear capes and save people’s lives. It’s not accurate that you’re actually being a superhero but it is truthful because it’s the experience people have or want to have as part of your tribe.

Change the World from Your Living Room isn’t about literally making a difference and changing the world from your living room couch.

It’s about doing whatever you can from wherever you are in the world, to create positive change.

Live Your Message isn’t about literally living and breathing your message every second of your day…

It’s about showing up in a way that’s aligned and congruent with the transformational message you want to communicate in your business.

But if you get up close and personal with all 3 lines and you believe all marketing messages must be 100% accurate and factual…

Then yes, all 3 of those are technically “lies.”

Animals Doing Unexpected Things

When I teach my students about truth vs accuracy in marketing, I talk about Werner Herzog.

Herzog is a German fiction and documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, author, actor and opera director who makes highly stylized docudramas.

His stories often feature animals doing unexpected things.

Lots of people love Herzog’s work. And lots of people don’t.

Detractors and critics think his stories are just too fantastical and outlandish to make any kind of sense.

But Herzog isn’t concerned with any of it.

He believes in creative filmmaking that is based on truth and he believes that, “Facts do not constitute truth.”

Herzog also says, Fact creates norms, and truth illumination”

And…

“… poetic, ecstatic truth can only be reached through fabrication, imagination and stylization.”

This is the heart of great marketing… illumination, imagination and stylization.

It’s not about cold, hard facts that fall flat and it’s not about being precise and accurate.

Great marketing is about activating authentic belief and inspiring emotion…

It’s about getting people to feel, and to desire

It’s about motivating your audience, your clients and your customers to reach for what they want…

To go above and beyond…

To fly higher, dig deeper and become more than they are.

Best vs. Great

You’ve just experienced the power of the “lie” vs the truth in marketing because I “lied” in the headline of this post… Why “Lying” is The Best Marketing Strategy.

If wanted to be 100% accurate, I’d write…

Why Storytelling is a Great Marketing Strategy.

Storytelling and “lying”… they could be the same and they could be different.

There are stories that are factual, there are stories that are fictional.

Best and great… they’re not the same but both words are used interchangeably.

Best means “to the highest degree,” great means “considerably above average.”

If I’d gone with an accurate, factual headline, would you have read this post?

Maybe but then again… maybe not.

Either way, I’m guessing a lot more people clicked to read because of the “lie” in the headline (and in the email too).

This means a lot more people learned how to become better at marketing their products and services…

A lot more people are going to be that much better at selling their products, creating a profitable business and living the kind of life they want to live…

And that’s the truth 🙂

Over to you…

How can you “lie” in your marketing and messaging? How can you include truthful stories to captivate your audience and inspire them to reach for more?

Let me know in the comments!

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Siobhan Tomkinson

    “I learnt that EPM is really a gateway product for mentoring (which I suspect I wish that I had known when I bought it)”
    Hmm, that doesn’t sound good really. Its certainly not marketed that way.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi Siobhan – I teach my students to always have a next step once people finish a particular program. That’s good business practice — not just for your business but for your customers. Once someone receives the increrdible transformation you offer in your program, there’s more possibility available to them than when they started. So once someone finishes EPM — they’ve designed and launched a product — they often do want additional support to grow their business beyond that product, so about 11% of our EPM students do continue on to our Mentorship program. I wouldn’t call EPM a gateway product. It’s a standalone program with an incredible success rate and an iron-clad guarantee. If that’s all people do with us, they’ll receive huge value and transformation. Just watch some of the stories here: https://liveyourmessage.com/epmev/reviews/

      And if students choose to continue their journey with us, we can go beyond what we cover in EPM. Make sense?

      Reviewing Elise’s comment she says EPM has: “Generous and excellent content and help available”. You won’t find more value for a $2K program anyway else and I have been considering raising the investment to $3K because of that. We support you as much as possible during the 3-months of the program and some students find the need for ongoing business mentorship. That’s natural. I still invest in several programs a year to grow my business, because that’s how you stay on a growth path.

      Reply ·
  2. Wendy Petties

    I love this article. It made me think about Apple vs. Android and how polarized users are. In truth one is not better than the other just different but people will get into heated debates based on what they have been convinced of based on marketing. Love the concept of being truthful but not always accurate. Going to explore that more in my work with women creating a life they don’t need a vacation from. In my program Rethink Your Life I am always encouraging them to figure out how to think differently about whatever is going on. Thanks for this.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      So glad you got a lot out of this Wendy! Love the Apple vs. Android example — spot on!

      Reply ·
  3. Paul Moretto

    My time to belong is “near.” Just some unexpected duties along with outsider-power are affecting my tic-tac (as in French,or)my tick-tock,

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      You’ll get there Paul 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

      Reply ·
  4. Mary Stephenson

    It is what we all want to believe to be a truth. Then again the wine glasses are a half-truth, it is the shape of the glass so the person consuming the wine can capture the aroma perfectly. Any store selling cheap wine glasses, if shaped the same could also capture the aroma. It reminds me of years ago when I went to a car show that paid you for your opinion of the car on display. They hid the manufacturer’s name and said it was a Mercedes and wanted us to rate the quality as opposed to a cheaper model. Of course we perceived it was better because the price tag would be greater. It ended up being a cheaper car, about a third of the price. So the participants wanted it to be better so they rated it better. In reality we want to believe in our wildest dreams. The bent truth gives us hope and if it means we can push ourselves to fit the reality, that is not half bad. If something is a straight up lie it will soon be known and trust of that person will coming crashing down.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      That is a great point about the perceived value of the car in your example and really captures the essence of what we’re talking about here, so thank you for sharing! I also love this — “The bent truth gives us hope and if it means we can push ourselves to fit the reality, that is not half bad” — You’re painting a picture of how your offer has the potential to make your ideal customer’s life better. You set them up for success but ultimately it’s your customers’ job to rise to the occasion and get the results for themselves. Great insights Mary! 🙂

      Reply ·
  5. Elise

    Have I read this right?
    How can it be ok, and great marketing, to sell wine glasses as changing the taste of wine, when it is rubbish?? Does that not make a fool of people?
    Surely great marketing is the story that teaches the truth? Not the story that sells a lie?
    …. I used to market musicians and I never purposely marketed anyone, just to sell tickets!! I had to know they were good.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi Elise! The title and theme of this post (Why “Lying” is the Best Marketing Strategy) is designed to create a bit of shock to get you thinking… so thanks for your comment! I shared the Riedel wine glass story as an example of the power of storytelling. The owner believes his glasses genuinely improve the taste of wine, and — even though science doesn’t back this up — he has many wine experts and customers who agree with him.

      But you’ll see above that I don’t actually condone dishonesty as a great marketing strategy. What you DO want to do is paint a story of how your programs, products or services have the potential to make your ideal customer’s life better. For example, in the messaging for my Experience Product Masterclass program, I share that the program has the power to help you create a lot more freedom and fulfillment in your life, so that you can work less, travel more, spend more time with your family, whatever you choose.

      Someone might read this and say, “How can this be true? How can she promise that? That can’t be right”… But this is why it’s important to 1) make sure your product or service is of exceptional quality and does what you promise and 2) back up your big promise behind it with a strong guarantee that removes the risk for the prospect to try it. Riedel could make their offer much stronger if they offered a money back guarantee for example 🙂

      Reply ·
      1. Elise

        Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. I enjoy your articles.

        Re-reading – I understand that you are describing selling potential, what people want to believe, (and that explains why I paid for EPM!). Seth’s words “A story is true not because it’s factual but because it’s authentic and consistent” – is surely just playing with words? Authentic means based on fact, genuine. Let the stories be true?!

        I guess I questioned as I have discovered that all this illusion marketing is making me uneasy – a more basic truth laid out from the start, sits better.

        I learnt that EPM is really a gateway product for mentoring (which I suspect I wish that I had known when I bought it)- authentic if you have an established niche. Generous and excellent content and help available: if your life runs like clockwork (probably no children); if you have a niche and if you are going on to M2M Live / mentoring.

        I seem to be in the minority, feeling the uneasiness. Thus I could celebrate that uniqueness!! 🙂

        Take care

        Reply ·
        1. Marisa Murgatroyd

          Yep Elise, the stories you tell should be TRUE but don’t have to necessarily be ACCURATE — and I think that’s where the uneasiness of marketing comes in for a lot of people (you’re not alone in that). If you want to skirt around that uneasiness, you can always gather testimonial success stories from your students and work them into your marketing. Then you’re using true AND accurate stories to convey the results people could get from working with you 🙂 But getting comfortable with painting a picture of what your ideal customers’ lives could look like after they consume your product (knowing not EVERY person will get those results if they don’t put in the time/effort) is a central tenant of marketing, so I would recommend doing whatever you can to get more comfortable with it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I always welcome this kind of feedback 🙂

          Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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