Unmarketing by Scott Stratten Book Review

I first heard of Scott at the 2010 Blogworld in Las Vegas when he leapt (almost literally) onto the stage to give one of the keynote presentations. Having never heard of him before, I quickly wondered how I had gone so long without hearing of him, as his presentation was full of a kind of energy and electricity that completely filled the auditorium.

I bought his book at the Wiley booth, and at the end of the conference vowed to read it, “Get Seen” by Steve Garfield and “ATTENTION!” by Jim Kukral as quickly as I could. Well, things didn’t quite happen as I predicted and they sat unread on my shelf for almost a year, until this week.

I’m a skeptic. If you read through these blog posts you will find that I am very critical of the “hype” certain “social media experts” tell their followers. Followers is actually a pretty good term for many Twitter users, by the way. Just saying.

Anyway, I started reading the book, which I expected to be the same, dry social media book I am used to. I was again surprised and delighted to find the book was not only entertaining, but a quick read. When writing this post I hesitated on using the term “quick read” because that should not at all be linked with “unengaging” or “useless” information. I got it. And it was clear Scott “gets it.” The tone of the book had me curious, and later I found out he partially used a text-to-speech program to write the book. I could tell, as the book closely resembles his in-person personality.

The chapters are short, but memorable. There are several parts I immediately related to. First, it may sound like something simple, but if you aren’t going to promote and be a cheerleader for your brand (or yourself – or maybe you are your brand) then nobody will. How true! You can’t expect the disgruntled employee in cubicle 512 to be your social media presence and be engaging if they hate their job, hate talking to people and hate hearing people complain. If you aren’t willing to speak up for your company 100% or 200%, then just don’t do it. Don’t expect others to refer you if you wouldn’t even refer yourself.

Another comment that I identified with was one I have posted here on my blog and causes a ruckus every time I mention it – that a large percentage of the social media experts make money only by selling a product on how to make money. Every time I mention this to my friends who have IM products, they get all fidgety and say I’m just paranoid, or Im just a natural skeptic. But its true. “For only $5 I can tell you how to make a million dollars on the Internet, $5 at a time.” that is the subtext of a good majority of information on how to make money on the Internet.

I have bought ebooks, online teleconferences, attended real-world conferences, and even spent close to $1,000 on a series of DVDs – and I am still in the same boat as I was before I bought them. The exception being Joel Comm’s Elevate Seminar, which is always valuable and inspirational to watch. It isn’t on the elevate seminar DVD’s, but if you haven’t yet, you have to see Joel’s “penny” demonstration from back in the day when he was talking about Adsense. Classic demonstration, and there is also a sub-story about Wells Fargo and ACQUIRING the pennies for the demonstration that is valuable in and of itself.

If there is a downside to this book, and many others it is that it assumes the reader is actually empowered to make changes at a company. In fact, many of these types of books are written for entrepreneurs or solopreneurs (when is that going to be in the dictionary?) and are not written for the average worker pulling the 9-5 at a company.

I highly recommend “Unmarketing” if you are serious about rethinking your social media mindset. I know that sounds like a pitch or the back of the latest guru book, but it is true “Unmarketing” will get you to reconsider all the “push and pray” marketing your company is doing. Goodbye yellow pages, goodbye trade shows with flyers on the counter, goodbye 30 second spot, goodbye mass mail (or even email). We’ve all heard about engaging customers, this is about engaging fans.

Get it.

(note, I have been an Amazon affiliate since 1996, and I will receive a small, minuscule commission if you buy the book through my link.)

Recharging Your Batteries

It can be called blogfading, podfading or just plain laziness – but sooner or later there may come a time when you just don’t have the enthusiasm for the blog or topic you once had? How do you recharge those batteries and get your creativity flowing again?
Find an Expert
Locate an expert in your niche or blog space and reach out and touch someone. Make a connection – comment on their blog. Ideally this should be someone that may have a little bit more exposure than you do so you can learn a few tricks from them. Just write them an email, you may be surprised what you hear back.
Case in point, a speaker I know tells his students/attendees at the end of the conference to try and get through to a celebrity to get a response to a question, an interview, etc. Most of his students, after hearing his speech go on and actually DO get through. Most people think celebrities are inaccessible – but determination, confidence and just trying can go a long way.
Once you establish a relationship, trade RSS feeds, twitter follow, etc. You have not only met a colleague, but maybe a friend and confidant. explore that, repeat that, gain new insights and ideas.
Go to a Meetup
Explore local meetups in your area for other people who might share your interest in technology, if not necessarily your niche.   There are bound to be meetups within an hour drive once a month that you can attend and meet other people that are active in the space.  These local connections are a great resource – since they are going through the same pains that you are in your local area.   Get involved!
Attend a Convention or Camp 
When I think of growing up and recharging my excitement for something, one of the best examples was going to Boy Scout Camp.   After camp you are rearing to go finish more merit badges, advance, do more service projects, etc.   The same kind of recharging can happen after attending a podcamp or blogging convention.
The people you meet at the larger conventions are TOP PICKINGS for getting to know.  These are people who, like you, are passionate about their space, want to grow, and are looking for advice and opportunities to enhance their own business and media offerings.
You HAVE to be proactive in obtaining contacts at these conventions, however.   It is easy – way easy – to sit back and watch all of the other attendees laugh it up and do “live” social networking – but you won’t get anywhere.   Jump into a conversation, the experience is what you make of it.
Hang Onto the Experience 
After attending or recharging your batteries, make sure you get something to remind you of what it was that got you more inspired.   Buy a t-shirt, keep your pass, obtain a transcript, buy the seminar DVD – whatever it is you need to do.  Then revisit that when you are feeling down.
Recharging your batteries is something that everybody needs to do…  recognize when you are starting to fade and get out there!

How Do You Invite Community?

With so many community “tools” out there, just what is the best way to form a community around your site/blog/podcast?
One blogger whom I follow regularly and has a strong voice in new media, Chris Brogan, regularly ads a question to the end of his posts, inviting people to comment.   Other people get more comments and reaction from their community if they simply give out information. (See Courtney Tuttle.)

Back when I helped launched the Entertaindom portal for Time-Warner (and yes I know it failed miserably, but my part was sound…)  the way the top veeps decided to encourage community was to adorn many different fake message board personas and go into the boards and starting topics like: “Wow, the God & Devil Show is awesome – when will I see more?”  Then another person in the office would reply, and also start another reply.   This was seen as “jump-starting” the message boards.

And the users saw through it immediately.

Faking responses/replies is probably below a “last-ditched effort” to encourage community.  If you are caught, it might rev up the community, but not in a good way.  unfortunately, this practice is all-too prevalent on message boards that have a “staff” of people running the boards.   There is definitely a line drawn that, if you step over it, will completely ruin your board or blog’s credibility.  It isn’t a fine line either, it is laid out there plain and simple.  Do not fake multiple personas to fake traffic/interest in your blog/site.  It will get back to you.

So how do you invite real, credible community, especially on a new web site/blog?
Content.  Bring in the content.  The community of readers/fans will come soon enough.  But content was, is and will always be the number one reason somebody visits your site.