Sunday July 06, 2014

Read this book: “UnMarketing”

How everybody can do with a little "un-"

A week or so ago Richard Edelman declared “Traditional marketing is broken.” Edelman is the head of the world’s largest PR firm and was speaking to industry executives and academics in Chicago.

Reading about his speech put me in mind of a book I’m always returning to. As business books go, this one is so much more than a “how-to” guide – it presents a whole different way of looking at things – and I love it.

“Drums Please!
Summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind.”

And that last word – “unwind” – is key, because the book, its concept and prefix, is “UnMarketing” by Scott Stratten.

UnMarketing book on a beach

“Summertime, And the livin’ is easy”

When we’re in full-on work mode we can get overwhelmed by all the business and marketing advice, inspiration and direction that’s out there in our noisy online world. Jumping on the latest social media platform or saving ourselves time by automating activity can seem to be the quick-fix we’re looking for when FOMO (fear of missing out) is our guiding light.

We all need a little “un-“

“UnMarketing” takes you back to first principles. It’s like when my eldest son started his journey to becoming a professional musician: despite having already achieved a certain level of competence, he had to learn his craft again, pretty much from scratch, so that he’d have a truly firm and lasting foundation.

Scott reminds us that marketing isn’t a discrete discipline or an activity you look at once a week: “it is every point of engagement,” and “…happens every time you engage (or not) with your past, present and potential customers.” We’re urged to “unlearn” what we’ve been told, not be hypocrites and think deeply about how we like to be marketed to ourselves.

Back to the beginning

The case for UnMarketing is anchored in Scott’s own relatable everyday experiences as a consumer and an influencer. He believes that “business is built on relationships,” i.e. “connection before commerce.”

This links to Edelman’s perspective on the emergence of a “new paradigm” where consumers, and not editors or advertisers, choose and control the content they consume. Companies looking to market their products and services now have to bring relationship-building to the fore.

Relationships come first

To be effective, the content they come up with has to overturn the established “marketing first and communications as a servant,” shifting from a marketing communications, to a communications marketing, model. Relationships don’t just happen as a result of one-off, one-way sales communication but by attracting consumer attention and conversation through sharing useful information.

When Edelman says “sales will [then] eventually flow if done appropriately,” the “appropriately” takes us straight back to “UnMarketing” and how we have to do “something great” for those who have our attention. What happens next has to be immediate and engaging – landing pages and email newsletter sign-ups that are easy to navigate and then great content to follow.

Getting to know you

“UnMarketing” is packed with examples and ideas for adopting a mindset that gets and keeps IRL (in real life) and virtual visitors, however casual, engaged, and for creating content that’ll scale and keep ’em coming back for more. Ever heard of the 3 P formula? Read “UnMarketing” and you’ll learn an oh-so-easy-to-remember, no brainer way of making your content useful.

Scott’s six degrees of separation resonates with the best advice I was given in my first PR job:- “you never know who somebody really is and who they might be down the road” and [do] “fulfilling for everybody…if you’re only being awesome with influencers you’re being elitist and that’s not being awesome” (Scott Stratten on the Social Media Examiner podcast 14 March 2014).

To whet the appetite…

And because I can’t resist, here’s a taster of some of the word-gold you’ll unearth in the book:-

“You can admire and take points from someone, but you shouldn’t try to be that person or company. You don’t see behind the curtain.”

[Don’t have] “a presence in social media and only talk and not listen. It’s…like showing up in the room with earplugs on.”

“It also makes sense to match your platform with your market. Playing heavy metal in a jazz club isn’t going to work well…”

“Consistency breeds familiarity, which creates relationships.”

So, what are you waiting for?

Whether you’re planning a staycation or a getaway, have a few spare hours or a fortnight, “UnMarketing” is everything great content should be – informative, useful and entertaining. And if you enjoy it, the great news is Scott Stratten’s new book “UnSelling” is just around the corner – scheduled to come out in autumn 2014!

I’d love to hear what you think – feel free to comment below and give me your summertime must-read suggestions too!

Find Scott Stratten: where you’ll also find the fabulous UnPodcast

Read Shane Snow on Richard Edelman:

Song lyrics from DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince “Summertime” and George and Ira Gershwin, and DuBose Heyward “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.

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