It was with such skepticism that I picked up Scott Stratten’s Unmarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. The first contrarian business book you pick up feels revolutionary. The 100th feels like you’re stuck on a giant swing, back and forward, back and forward …
Yet Stratten manages to lay out a convincing case for how to best use Internet-based marketing tools, even if in retrospect most of it seems like common sense, such as his preference for email over Twitter and Facebook.
“Today, the sexy thing to talk about in business is followers and likes. But they are not worth as much as a subscriber to me," he says, referring to those who sign up via his website to receive his email newsletters or blog updates. “They are 100th as valuable, or even 1000th as valuable as a subscriber. A Tweet will last minutes, a Facebook status will last minutes – and that’s if it’s even shown in the news feed – but a subscriber has to do something with your email message. They’ll see it in their inbox, and to me that’s much more valuable. Email marketing is alive and well. Don’t ignore what has been the backbone of communication for a long time now.”
As the self-described “Jedi of Social Media,” Stratten is certainly no slouch when it comes to using Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, where he has 120,000 followers. (Just how he built up such a massive following makes for interesting reading. The Canadian says that in 2009 he had almost given up on Twitter but decided to give it one last shot. In one month, he Tweeted 7,000 times, with three-quarters of those blasts being replies to other feeds. “I went from 1,200 to 10,000 followers,” he says, with momentum doing the rest. He has never repeated that volume of Tweets.)
Stratten’s view is that social media’s primary role is to provide the day-to-day conversation with your community, while customers’ email addresses will ensure you have a long-term relationship with them in the future.
“Small business owners don’t have the budgets that big brands do. All they have is themselves. All they have is their personality. So use your personality as your strongest point. You can’t out-brand Coke. You can out-advertise Walmart. You can’t out-direct mail United. But you can out-personality them. You can out-engage them because they’re still doing a horrible job of it today.”
With, so many social media options to choose from, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Path, Google+, Stratten advisers business owners to pick one and invest time in it. “The problem I see entrepreneurs making is they open an account on every platform and spend five minutes on each,” he says. “That’s like trying to go to five networking events in one night. Social media is not about being everywhere. Social media is not being scalable on every platform – it’s being great at a few.”
It’s also important to be human. In a world of impersonal autoresponders, he says that the personal touch is vital. While productivity gurus may advise that you ignore non-critical emails, Stratten believes the opposite. “I get emails every day – from Australia, South Africa, Brazil – and it’s not hard to say thank you. We’re very spoilt people if we can’t say thank you. I’m surprised at the number of business owners who don’t reply to these types of things. That’s rude. And it will actually change the perception of the sender of the message. It can take someone from being a person who loves what you do and it will drop their opinion of you.”
Sounds like something your mother would say. Yes, common sense.